Sunday, September 25, 2005


Police charge youth pastor with molestation

BUNNELL, Florida -- The youth pastor of Praise Assembly of God here has been charged with six counts of child molestation involving two girls he befriended through his role in the church, investigators said Saturday.

The Rev. Chris Thomas Miller, 26, 9 Rose Place, Palm Coast, was arrested Friday evening and remained Saturday at Flagler County Inmate Facility on $100,000 bail on lewd and lascivious molestation charges, said county Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debra Johnson.

Investigators said Miller provided details of incidents within the past eight weeks involving the girls, both younger than 16, when confronted during an interview at the Sheriff's office.

On Saturday afternoon, leaders at the church, 1686 E. State Road 100, began notifying parents. Teachers at the church's school, which offers classes from kindergarten through ninth grade, were called in for a special meeting. Before the meeting, a group of grim-faced faculty members clustered in the parking lot, apparently stunned by the news.

To allow time for parishioners to be informed and ask questions, the Rev. Paula Wilburn said, but said the church likely would not make any public statements until Monday. Church services today were scheduled to go ahead as planned, she said.

Investigators said the two girls came forward accusing Miller of victimized them. Miller is one of two pastors listed on the church's marquee, along with a senior pastor, the Rev. Don Wilburn. Authorities were uncertain how long Miller has been with the church.

"Parents need to be in tune with their children because you never know where or when your child may be at risk," said Detective Stacy Pate, the sheriff's lead investigator in the case.

The Sheriff's Office is asking parents to contact Detective Stacy Pate at (386) 446-7625 if they have children who may have been victimized by Miller.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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