Cherokee Church Offers Victims Help Amid Mounting Claims of Child Abuse

By Maria Hallas
Local Memphis
November 17, 2016

[with video]

New information in an a case of sex-abuse allegations at a local church against a man who now works for the Memphis city library. The victims say the abuse happened decades ago.

The three victims, Kenny Stubblefield, Michael Hansen, and Brooks Hansen, who came forward on camera Monday, say they've heard from eight people claiming Chris Carwile sexually assaulted them. Of those, six claim abuse while Carwile attended Cherokee Baptist Church.

"Since the story has been told on Channel 24 and on Facebook social media, things like that, we have had people reach out to us and say that, yes, they were abused by Chris Carwile after our abuse story," said Stubblefield.

Stubblefield claims eight people contacted him or brothers Michael and Brooks Hansen to claim Chris Carwile also abused them. Six of those victims say they were abused while Carwile attended Cherokee Baptist Church. The most recent allegation was in 2003. Stubblefield says none are ready to go on camera.

Jeremy Wright is the pastor at Cherokee Baptist Church. He is a beacon of hope, according to Stubblefield and the Hansen brothers.

"I think that's the greatest thing that he's done. He's recognized the seriousness of this and truly cares about people rather than just his church."

"As we found out, we just try to do everything we can to be as proactive as possible," Wright said. "Our position as a church, and other like-minded churches around us, would be a one of non defensiveness, would be one of trying to receive them, and help them and not in anyway to push them away or keep them quiet so to speak. I think that's the worst thing that can happen."

Wright became pastor at Cherokee ten years after Carwile last attended Cherokee. He points to several steps he has taken to be transparent with parishoners about Carwile and finding victims.

"We have sent word out to all of our members by email," Wright said. "The email denounces abuse, says allegations will not be kept in house but reported to the authorities, and asks possible victims to come forward and find hope and healing."

Wright says he will also spread the word at church congregation meetings and through social media. He wants to use church funds to pay for therapy for Carwile's victims.

Pastor Wright's actions appear to follow the tenor of proactive steps listed in a statement from SNAP, a well known victims rights organization: "Church officials should make pulpit announcements, use church websites, post notices in church buildings and mail congregants (current and former) begging anyone with information or suspicions to come forward, get help, safeguard kids and call law enforcement."

"Our posture is receptivity and hopefully a healing and helping and not dismissing or being defensive. We grieve with the victims and we hope that through that posture we can see others come forward."

Wright says, no victims have contacted him so far.

As noted in Monday's story, Chris Carwile is now under civil and criminal investigations. The Local I-Team is investigating how Carwile came to be a member at Cherokee and may have gained access to minors about fourteen years ago. We are also looking into other locations he frequented.

The Local I-Team would like to speak with Carwile, but he has not responded to our requests.

If you have any information about child abuse, it is your legal obligationto notify MPD. Please also contact the Local I-Team reporter who wrote this story at or (901) 500-0531.

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