13-Year-Old Reports Sexual Assault at Church

By Nathaniel Cary
Greenville News
July 18, 2008

The pastor of a church in Campobello said the church is installing a new security system following a 13-year-old girl's claim that she was raped while attending vacation Bible school at the church in June.

Sketch of suspect

Rev. George Searles, pastor of New Pilgrim Baptist Church, 5040 Rainbow Lake Road, said security equipment should be installed by next week and that church staff has double-checked doors to make sure they're locked.

"We're just making sure we keep our eyes open and do the things we can do now to ensure safety," Searles said.

A girl told authorities she was sexually assaulted by a man in the basement of the church while everyone else was outside at about 8:30 p.m., June 17.

Searles said adults and the 50 children attending VBS were playing water games on the church lawn. An incident report states that the girl told police she had gone inside to use the restroom and the man pulled her into a classroom and assaulted her.

She didn't tell anyone at the church about the incident and didn't tell her mother until June 30 because of "fear of being in trouble," according to a Spartanburg sheriff's office report.

The girl's mother took her to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center but a rape kit wasn't administered due to the elapsed time since the incident, the report states. It was reported to the sheriff's office on July 2, said sheriff's office Capt. Dan Johnson.

The victim did not know the assailant, who is described as 6-feet tall, weighing 280 pounds, 30-40 years old with very dark skin, buck teeth, an overbite and a large gap between his two front teeth. He's believed to have fled on foot.

Searles said he never saw the suspect and though a few children said they'd seen him, nothing has panned out.

"No one has come forth and said they saw this particular person," Searles said. "We're still trying to ascertain facts and get to the bottom of it."

Anyone with information may call CrimeStoppers at 58-CRIME.


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