Bail Denied for Former Pastor Charged with Sex Crime
The Union County Sheriff Says He's Unsure If There Are More Victims
By Graeme Moore
WSPA - News 7 (South Carolina)
March 22, 2011
A magistrate has denied bond for the former Union County pastor arrested this week and charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Stephen Douglas Berry, 38, of Jonesville, was associate pastor at New Life Baptist Church, though he was not working there at the time of his arrest.
However, according to an incident report, Berry had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl beginning in May 2010 through November 2010, at which time he was employed with the church.
The report states Berry had intercourse with the girl a number of times and at "various locations."
According to the church and the Union County Sheriff's Office, Berry was the subject of a prior criminal investigation involving sexual misconduct allegations from an adult female. Sheriff David Taylor said the woman decided not to pursue charges, so the investigation was closed.
Sheriff Taylor said the current investigation into Berry remains open, and while they're unsure if there could be additional victims, they're hoping anyone with additional information will come forward.
New Life's Chairman of Deacons, Robert Williams released a statement to News Channel 7 late Tuesday night. It read as follows:
On January 27th, 2011, the Deacon Board of New Life Baptist Church placed Associate Pastor Stephen Berry on indefinite, administrative leave upon learning of a criminal investigation regarding inappropriate conduct with an adult female who was not a member of New Life Baptist Church. On Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, the Deacon Board asked for and received Rev. Berry’s resignation, which resignation was reduced to writing on February 3rd, 2011.
As a Church Body we are saddened to learn of the allegations and arrest of Rev. Berry. We will continue to unconditionally love Rev. Berry and his family through grace as we would any member of our church in difficult times such as these.
We will have no further comments regarding these or any other allegations, other than to state that we have never received any prior complaints of this nature involving Rev. Berry.
We offer our prayers and support for all persons affected by this matter. Please ask the Lord in your prayers to help us heal and that above all - His Will be done.
-- Robert Williams, Chairman of Deacons
See also: Former pastor jailed for a second time, FOX Carolina, 4/22/11
SBP Note: New Life Baptist Church in Union, SC, is shown as a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.