Church Usher Charged with Sexually Abusing 7-year-old Girl

By Liam Ford
Chicago Tribune
August 6, 2015

Richard K. Roberts, 51, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a 7-year-old girl at the church he works for in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. (Chicago Police Department photo /)

A Church usher sexually abused a 7-year-old girl attending a summer youth event at the Back of the Yards church where the man works, then was arrested when the girl told her older stepsister, who told the girl's mother, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Richard K. Roberts, 51, was arrested Sunday at the Southwest Church of Christ, 1359 W. 51st St., after the girl’s mother went to the church, and the 7-year-old and the other children she had told about the abuse at the time pointed out Roberts as the man who had abused her, prosecutors said.

Roberts, who is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, was ordered held in lieu of $50,000 bail by Judge Laura Sullivan on Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors did not give a specific date for the abuse.

Sometime between May 31 and Sunday, the girl went to a children’s event at the church along with her brother, 12, his friend, also 12, and the siblings’ cousin, 11, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Kim Przekota. Roberts — an usher and a part-time employee — had gone through the neighborhood, knocking on doors to invite children to the event, prosecutors said.

Roberts worked at the event as an usher, and when the girl had something to throw away and was looking for a trash can, she asked Roberts where to find one, and he told her to follow him, prosecutors said. Roberts told the cousin and the other children to stay behind and to give their garbage to the 7-year-old to throw away.

Roberts took the girl to a back room, where others at the event couldn’t see them, and when the girl bent over to throw the trash away, Roberts touched and rubbed the girl inappropriately, prosecutors said. The girl went back and told the other children what had happened but didn’t tell adults.

When the girl’s 11-year-old stepsister went to the girl’s house to visit Sunday, the girl told the stepsister, who told the girl's mother, who called police, prosecutors said. The girl’s mother walked to the church with the children, who pointed out Roberts as the man the girl had said abused her, telling both the mother and, when they arrived, police.

Roberts, of the 5300 block of South May Street, has no criminal convictions, according to prosecutors.

Church leaders did not immediately return a message left seeking comment.

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Schmadeke contributed.








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