The youth pastor of Merrywood Baptist Church was arrested Tuesday by Statesboro police on child molestation charges.
Douglas Randall Pope, 31, South Zetterower Avenue, is charged with three counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of child molestation. Additional charges are expected, said Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner.
A 14-year-old girl told police Pope touched her inappropriately and had been doing that and other inappropriate behavior "over the past two years, and also involved other juvenile females," Turner said.
Complaints from other victims were made when police interviewed those girls, he said.
Statesboro Police detectives seized computers, cameras and other digital media Tuesday during a search warrant execution at Pope's home. He was there, and was later interviewed at the police department, Turner said. A short time later he was arrested and taken to the Bulloch County Jail.
Wayne Miracle, pastor of New Life Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church, located not far from Merrywood on Highway 80 East, commented on Pope's arrest.
"It greatly saddens my heart to hear of this tragic event, and is a great embarrassment to those of us who strive to uphold the moral virtues of Scripture," he said. "However, we must understand this is only a byproduct of the sex-crazed culture in which we live. We that dare to call ourselves ‘Christian' must double our efforts to establish, and maintain, our reputation of integrity among our community, so that people who come to us for spiritual help can do so in a loving, caring, and safe environment. My prayers go out to the family of the offended, the pastor, and the entire church."
Turner said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are anticipated.
"Merrywood Baptist Church personnel have been made aware of the investigation and Pope's arrest," he said. "The church is cooperating with the investigation."
Detective Ben Purvis and Detective Sergeant James Winskey are leading the investigation.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Criminal Investigative Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department at (912)764-9911.