Charges against NN Pastor Dropped
The Preacher Was Accused of Failing to Report Possible Sexual Assault of a Minor
By Jennifer Latson
December 21, 2006
Newport News -- A judge on Wednesday dismissed charges against a longtime Newport News pastor who was accused of failing to report sexual abuse of three young girls by a man in his congregation.
Prosecutors agreed to drop charges against the Rev. Floyd Blackwell, pastor of the Miracle Temple Baptist Church on 32nd Street, after he attended a training program on detecting and reporting child abuse.
Stephanie Pass, a commonwealth's attorney in Chesapeake who prosecuted the case on behalf of Newport News, said she was pleased with the outcome of the case.
Blackwell was arrested nearly a year ago and charged with obstructing justice and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after he was accused of staying silent about a 19-year-old parishioner who had for years been sexually assaulting three girls, ages 7, 8 and 9.
Police investigating that crime learned that a relative of the 19-year-old had told Blackwell about the alleged abuse. Blackwell reportedly discouraged the relative from calling police, saying he would handle it within the church, police said.
Pass said child abuse reporting requirements may not be well understood by clergy, and Blackwell's arrest was an opportunity for him and others to learn what's expected. Anyone in a professional position of authority over children is required to report serious abuse, according to the Virginia Department of Social Services. That includes teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, day-care workers and clergy.
"I was satisfied, and the judge was as well, that he had taken this seriously, and hopefully it'll turn into something positive for the Peninsula," Pass said. "He bothered to educate himself, and he has shared that information."
Blackwell's attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment. Pass said she thought the case would lead to better reporting in the future.
"It benefits children when we educate those who are best able to help them. I think that's what happened," Pass said. "I was satisfied this was not something that was ever going to happen again (at Blackwell's church)."
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