Local News

Church Members May Have Known About Allegations In Harnett Sex Abuse Case

Posted February 2, 2005 5:09 a.m. EST

— The investigation surrounding Lloyd Coats is growing. The investigation may focus on members of his church who may have known about crimes he allegedly committed.

Coats is a former postal worker and church van driver charged with molesting 15 children over several years. Erwin police and the Harnett County Sheriff's Office are looking into whether members of Coats' church, Erwin Church of God, knew what he was doing to young girls but never took the information to police.

The Erwin police chief confirms he will consult with the district attorney to see if there is enough evidence to charge members of Coats' church.

"Things keep coming up. There are a lot of questions that are unanswered," Police Chief Tom Chandler said.

"Someone should be held accountable for what happened to us," said Felicia Fisher, Coats' cousin.

Felicia Fisher said Coats touched her inappropriately on the church van in the late 1980s. The 23-year-old said her uncle brought his concerns to the church.

"He did go to the church and tell. It was a member, someone way up in the church," she said.

Erwin investigators interviewed former pastor Currie Parker.

"He said there was rumor and he had talked and counseled Mr. Coats in the past," Chandler said.

WRAL was unable to reach anyone at Parker's home. About 16 months ago, the church got a new pastor, the Rev. Alton Childers. Childers said he was shocked and did not know anything of the allegations made by Coats.

Even if police confirm someone at the church knew of the incidents years ago, the district attorney said no one could face criminal charges. The crime is considered a misdemeanor and the statute of limitations has run out.

Dunn police say they have heard from six more women who may file charges. Coats remains in jail on a $185,000 bond.