Investigations into Sex Acts at Church Camp Leads to Arrests

By Ryan Duffy
First Coast News
June 3, 2008

[with video]

BAKER COUNTY, FL — Deputies have arrested an 18-year-old on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor at a camp for troubled teens.

The Baker County Sheriff's Office says Ben Lewis, a camper, admitted to sex acts with a 14-year-old while at Camp Tracey in Glen St. Marys.

The camp is run by Harvest Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Investigators say Lewis is among eight teenaged boys who admitted to performing sex acts on each other while at the camp. Authorities said the teens would go out into the woods and touch each other inappropriately. The kids range in age from 14-18 years old, but only Lewis could be charged.

The Baker County Sheriff's Office says the sexual activity went on for at least two years.

During the investigation into the sexual activity detectives also arrested 46-year-old John Wilson, a dorm father, on child abuse charges.

Campers told investigators Wilson has choked and hit them and on one occasion slammed one person's head into a wall.

The Department of Children and Families is now investigating the church camp.

The pastor of Harvest Baptist Wilford McCormick tells First Coast News Wilson will continue to work at the camp. McCormick refused to comment on any of the other allegations.

The camp has been sued five times since 2003 all alleging physical and sexual abuse by counselors.

In 1987 a Baker County grand jury investigated Camp Tracey for similar allegations and criticized the corporal punishment used at the camp.


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