The former pastor of a Southern Baptist church in South Carolina has been charged with molesting a child under 16 years old, police and court records show.
Tracy Darin Turner resigned April 18, 2021, from Trinity Point Church in Easley, South Carolina, according to a recent statement from church elders to The Roys Report (TRR). At the time of his resignation, Turner had been lead pastor at Trinity Point for more than five years.
Court records show Turner was arrested seven months later on two charges of criminal sexual conduct with a child under 16 years old.
Church leaders said they learned of the allegations against Turner several weeks after Turner resigned and a police investigation was underway.
“Some time after he resigned, we learned of a situation in their home that would require investigating,” Trinity Point elders said in a statement to TRR by the church’s executive pastor, Chad Hall. Hall told TRR the church made a similar statement to church members after learning about the allegations.
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The situation didn’t involve people at Trinity Point directly, according to the statement. It further stated that the church is continuing “to pray for all parties involved.”
“To be clear,” the statement concluded, Turner “had already left Trinity Point when these things came to light. We have not heard from him since.”
The church has grown significantly in the last year and is now averaging about 225 in attendance on Sundays, Hall told TRR in an interview. Families involved in the children’s and youth ministries regularly receive information about how to report concerns or possible abuse to authorities, Hall added.
Hall told TRR that the elders determined Turner had never had a role in the church’s children’s or teens’ ministries. Once they knew that, Hall said, elders turned their attention to finding a new lead pastor.
“I’m not going to say we moved on, but to some degree, we had to,” Hall said. “We had to continue with leading the church.”
When elders learned of the allegations some weeks after Turner resigned, Hall said, they were also told that a police investigation was already underway.
Four days after Turner’s resignation, someone reportedly called the local sheriff’s office to make an anonymous report. The caller alleged Turner “was having inappropriate contact” with a minor, an incident report shows.
The man who called the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t say who he was or how he learned of the allegation, other than that someone else told him about it, the report indicates.
The deputy who spoke with the man wrote in the report that the man wouldn’t offer more information beyond the names and approximate ages of Turner and the alleged victim. The man “became angry he was being asked questions” about the nature of the alleged inappropriate contact, the deputy wrote. He reportedly told the deputy to “do your job and figure this out.”
Authorities interviewed the child about three weeks after that call, according to the report. The child reportedly told the forensic interviewer that Turner had molested her two weeks before the interview. The report states the child described a previous incident, too.
Deputies also learned Turner had been admitted into a treatment center for a porn addiction, according to the report. Authorities reportedly arranged to interview him in November, after he had finished the treatment program.
An attorney for Turner told a sheriff’s deputy at that interview that Turner wasn’t going to refute the allegations, according to the police report. They reportedly arranged to have Turner turn himself in for arrest a few days later on two charges of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Jail records show Turner was booked into the Anderson County jail on November 23, 2021, on the two charges. He bonded out the same day, jail and court records show. The court case is ongoing.
Turner’s former church is part of the Piedmont Baptist Association, according to the association’s website. PBA Director of Missions Robert Dickard said no one at the association’s offices knew of the allegations until Turner’s arrest seven months after Turner resigned.
“We weren’t keeping up with that situation because it did not pertain to our church,” Hall told TRR. “We just didn’t follow up, we didn’t track that. So when we did finally find out (about Turner’s arrest), we did let the members know.”
No statement was given to people who go to the church but aren’t members, according to Hall.
Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.
8 thoughts on “Former SBC Pastor Charged After Alleged Child Molestation”
So the church’s response was minimal, at best. No notice to all non-member persons and families connected to the church. No notice to the church’s regional association. No offer to assist the victim and family. No ongoing attention to the case.
Just because the lead pastor didn’t have an active role in the children or teen ministries doesn’t mean that he didn’t have contact with those kids, particularly in a church that size. One identified victim and a porn addiction might be an indication that there could be other yet-to-be-identified victims, includes some within the church body.
The church’s response is disappointing. Also, in reviewing the leadership bios on the church’s website, I am surprised that no pastor has any theological training listed (with the exception of one who is currently in college studying religion).
Theological training — or lack thereof — has nothing to do with how well a church responds to allegations of sexual abuse. Thousands of child molesters have been protected by people with MDIVs and doctorates.
Republicans say they’re all about going after “groomers” these days. Well, they’re looking in all the wrong places. They need to start focusing on churches.
So the church didn’t feel the need to contact people outside the church, and Tim Olsen says they needn’t look anywhere BUT the church( “looking in all the wrong places”). Wow. Just wow. Three blind mice, see how they run…
Focusing on schools would be a good idea as well. Roughly one school employee per school day is arrested in our country for sexual misconduct involving a student or students. And that’s just the ones who get caught.
Too often we build church and church like organisations in disregard for Jeremiah 17:3.
I wonder if churches need to have internal auditors: members of the congregation otherwise uninvolved in church committees, etc. Like ‘community visitors’ and with a similar remit. https://www.ageingdisabilitycommission.nsw.gov.au/about-us/official-community-visitors or https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/community-safety/independent-custody-visitors
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