Former Baptist Youth Minister

By Bob Allen
Associated Baptist Press
November 4, 2008

LEXINGTON, Ky. (ABP) -- A former Southern Baptist youth minister in Kentucky was sentenced Oct. 31 to 10 years in prison after confessing to sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl he met while posing as a 17-year-old youth evangelist on the social-networking website MySpace.

Timothy Scott Richerson, 40, of Greensburg, Ky., admitted in July that he met the girl online and then followed up with computer and telephone messages during the summer of 2007. That September he drove about 50 miles from his home in Greensburg, Ky., to the victim's home in Madison County, where he sexually exploited her.

The girl's mother became suspicious after several visits by Richerson. She found sexually explicit text messages on her daughter's phone and called police. The Kentucky State Police arrested Richerson in Greensburg Oct. 12, 2007, and a federal court indicted him in March, as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department initiative aimed at protecting children from online predators.

"A lot of credit goes to the victim's mother in this case," said prosecutor Hydee Hawkins. "She did what we wish every parent would do -- that's being nosy with your children and their activities. We can't emphasize enough how important that is."

According to the Richmond Register, Richerson is a former youth minister at Freedom Baptist Church in Campbellsville, Ky.

Richerson, who eventually revealed his true age, had sexual contact with the girl short of intercourse, according to CBS affiliate WKYT. However, he had planned to take her virginity on her 15th birthday.

Richerson's MySpace page, which he last accessed Oct. 11, 2007, is titled "Youth for Christ Ministries." It identifies him as a 17-year-old male "in a relationship."

The page's "about me" profile reads: "Here to serve God by providing a Christian view of the youth, as we face many of life's obstacles!"

It continues: "You can talk to us anytime. We are here to help you with your struggles and help lead you to God. Don't hesitate to send a message or comment. In John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. So why should I condemn you. I am here so that you will have a place to turn for help. ILY."

Richerson, who is married with a teenage daughter, listed 216 "friends" on his profile, mostly teenage girls around the Campbellsville area.

His "who I'd like to meet" entry lists, "God, Jesus, and you."


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