|Police: Buckeye Church Set up for Pastor's 'Carnal Needs'
April 15, 2009
The Lord's House Church in Buckeye is being investigated as a front for sexual exploitation, police said in the wake of its leaders' arrests.
On Tuesday, police arrested Debra Hinkley, 47, the church's assistant director, at a home in Tonopah, said Lt. Phil Harris, a Buckeye police spokesman.
The church's pastor, Charles Carfrey, 59, has been in custody since March 20, accused of running a criminal syndicate, having sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse. He allegedly used his position to sexually assault women during counseling sessions, police said. Investigators also are looking into unspecified fraud charges.
Hinkley is accused of hindering prosecution, influencing a witness, resisting arrest and simulating an explosive device, he said.
Police believe Hinkley threatened and bullied some of the witnesses in the case and attempted to hide evidence. She refused to let police in when they arrived with a search warrant and fought with them when they attempted to arrest her, Harris said.
When searching the Tonopah home, officers also found what appeared to be an explosive device. But it turned out to be three sticks of wood tied together to look like dynamite, a hoax intended to prevent officers from conducting the warrant, Harris said.
"I'd be surprised if it was legitimate," Buckeye police Detective Doug Dodge said of the church. "We think that this whole corporation is just set up for (Carfrey's) enrichment and his carnal needs."
Buckeye police said Carfrey was renting the Tonopah house where Hinkley was living.
Carfrey started as a pastor in Oregon in 1990 and moved to Buckeye in 2000 or 2001, Dodge said. He allegedly fondled adult and teenage women in Buckeye and Oregon during counseling sessions.
Police have been investigating the case since accusations were made against Carfrey in 2005. They made headway recently when people left the church and came forward, Dodge said. They said the victims and witnesses felt trapped and betrayed by Carfrey.
Police said more arrests are possible.
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