Local News

Sexual misconduct charge rocks Harnett County church

Posted March 27, 2011 2:47 p.m. EDT
Updated March 27, 2011 11:17 p.m. EDT

— A Harnett County church was rocked this weekend by allegations of sexual misconduct against its pastor.

Paul Burke Johnson, 74, who is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Dunn, was arrested Thursday on a charge of sexual battery.

Johnson did not show up at church Sunday.

"Right now everybody is just confused, upset. Everybody is in tears," church member James Norris said. "It's a tough time for everybody."

Norris said he helped Johnson meet a $20,000 bond to be released from jail.

"He was very confused, upset with everything going on. I'm not going to say he was a wreck, but it was tough on him," he said.

Benson police, who are investigating the case, haven't released any details about the allegations. Sources close to WRAL, though, said the incident happened at a nursing home.

"He was at the nursing home," Norris said. "What was he doing there? Well, he's a pastor. He goes around and prays, and he visits the sick."

Johnson is also on the Board of Ministers for the Campbell University Divinity School. University President Jerry Wallace said he had just heard of the allegations and wasn't prepared to comment on them.

Members of Calvary Baptist said they are praying for direction.

"We're just trying to come together as one and see Dr. Johnson and everyone through this thing," Norris said.

Johnson is due to appear in court Monday.