Seminary Student Accused of Abusing Child at YMCA Program
Posted December 14, 2007 4:44 p.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2007 6:59 a.m. EST
Wake Forest, N.C. — A Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary student has been charged with abusing a 10-year-old child while working at an after-hours YMCA program at a Wake County elementary school.
The Wake County Sheriff's Office charged Justin Eugene Taylor, 27, of Wake Forest, with one count of indecent liberties with a child. He was arrested on Thursday and was later released on a $40,000 bond.
The arrest warrant – signed out on Dec. 5 – said there was probable cause to believe that Taylor "unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did attempt to take immoral, improper and indecent liberties against (a minor) for the purpose of arousing and gratifying sexual desire."
Investigators said the alleged abuse occurred while Taylor was working for the Triangle-area YMCA at an after-school program at Jones Dairy Elementary School. That program is run by the Banks D. Kerr YMCA in Raleigh.
The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary said that Taylor has been suspended indefinitely but made no other comment. His suspension follows standard procedure when students face such charges, seminary officials said.
In a letter sent to parents on Dec. 5, the YMCA said "an allegation of inappropriate behavior involving a staff member and two minor children at the Jones Dairy program site" had occurred. A YMCA statement released on Friday said, "We are deeply concerned that a former staff member has been arrested by the police for an alleged offense of a sexual nature."
The YMCA immediately suspended the staffer involved, contacted the parents of the children and initiated an investigation, according to the letter. After the investigation, the YMCA fired the staffer, called child protective services and "pledged our cooperation with enforcement authorities," the letter reads.
"The YMCA is cooperating with the local authorities in their investigation," the YMCA said in Friday's statement. "The safety and concern of all participants is always our utmost priority."
As parents picked up their children from the afterschool program Friday, they reacted to the serious charges.
"We were very upset about it," said parent Darien Upchurch. "We sat down with the kids to make sure everything was OK. We ask more questions every day now, just to to see how they're doing and what's going on."
"Of course, I was concerned," said parent Andrea Blackwell. "But I know that they have safety measures in place, and I talked to them and it sounded like it was caught right away."
On his MySpace page, Taylor wrote that he was director of the Jones Dairy YMCA programs. A document on the Triangle YMCA's Web site listed Taylor as a site coordinator for the Jones Dairy programs.
"I do love kids and hope to have a big family some day and have a ball workin' with the little curtain-climbers at the YMCA," he wrote on his MySpace page.
Blackwell said she was surprised at the allegations against Taylor. "He was a very wonderful man. I don't know any of the details of what about what happened," she said.
Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for the YMCA, said she could not confirm anything regarding Taylor's employment and declined to comment further on the case.
"YMCA policy does not allow us to speak directly about this specific employee issue, but it is important for you to know that before a YMCA staff member is allowed to work with children, they must pass a criminal background check, reference checks, abuse training and sign a YMCA Code of Conduct," the YMCA's statement read.
Bill Poston, a spokesman for the Wake County Public School System, said it was his understanding that Taylor was a YMCA employee and was not directly affiliated with Jones Dairy. WCPSS is not responsible handling Taylor's employment status, Poston said.
On his MySpace page, Taylor said he was studying at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to be a pastor.
A background check revealed that Taylor does not have a criminal history.
In August, Brian Doug Goodrich, 26, pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with boys as young as 13 while he was a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The abuse occurred while Goodrich was an intern at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh.
The seminary expelled Goodrich.