Local News

Police: Dunn pastor assaulted assisted living center patient

Posted March 28, 2011 10:09 a.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2011 6:37 p.m. EDT

— The sexual misconduct charges against a Harnett County pastor involved a patient at an assisted living center in Benson, police said Monday.

Paul Burke Johnson, 74, the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Dunn, was charged Thursday with four counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.

Benson Police Chief Kenneth Edwards said Johnson had visited patients at Liberty Commons Nursing Center, at 2315 N.C. Highway 242 North, for the past year and had several encounters with a 64-year-old woman there. The woman has a diminished mental capacity, Edwards said.

According to a statement released by police, Johnson had "repeated inappropriate sexual contact" with the woman and has "fully admitted his involvement in the incidents," which took place over the past four or five months.

A nurse at the facility witnessed an encounter between Johnson and the woman on Thursday and reported it to supervisors, who called police.

"At Liberty Commons, we take all allegations of potential abuse very seriously," administrator Jackie Livermore said in a statement.

The alleged encounters didn't involve intercourse or any contact that would constitute a felony, Edwards said, so Johnson was charged with misdemeanors.

Johnson, who was released after posting a $20,000 bond, 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."

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

Johnson is scheduled to appear in court May 6.