Friday, August 3, 2012

Georgian Pastor arrested for molesting four girls

Steven Rowe is accused of molesting 4 kids at a Douglas church and school; parents are asked to talk to daughters who might have had contact with him.

A former Coffee County pastor has been arrested and charged with four counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated child molestation.

Investigators said Steven Rowe, 50, was pastor at First Community Church and headmaster at Faith Christian Academy in Douglas from 2002 until 2008. He is accused of molesting at least four children from 2005 to 2008, said Guy Wolfe, a Coffee County Sheriff's Office detective.

Rowe was questioned Friday after Wolfe said a complaint was filed with the Department of Family and Children Services. Rowe was held after questioning and charged Saturday. He remains in the Coffee County Jail after bail was denied.

Wolfe said the investigation is ongoing and he can't release many details, but he did say the victims were females. Investigators are asking parents to talk with their children if they were between the ages of 12 and 15 and attended the church or school while Rowe worked there.

"There's potentially other victims out there, so it's really sensitive," Wolfe said.

The church's interim pastor and headmaster at the academy, Ben Warren, said Rowe's arrest was briefly mentioned during Sunday's church services but the issue was not discussed in detail until parents gathered at the church Tuesday night.

"I've known Pastor Rowe for years. It's a shock to everybody," Warren said. "We tend to elevate the pastor. It's a major breach of trust."

Warren said parents were united in their support of the church and academy. He said Rowe's involvement with the church and academy had diminished the past 14 months because he was working at another school in Brunswick. Wolfe identified the school as Paxen Learning Corp.

Richard Semancik, executive vice president at Paxen, said Rowe is no longer an employee because of his arrest. Both Wolfe and Semancik said they don't believe Rowe had inappropriate contact with students at the center because they are all at least 16 years old, which is the age of consent in Georgia.

Warren said the issue will also be discussed with the 75 students enrolled at the academy.

"Most of our students did not know him that well," Warren said. "We're going to do some teaching with our girls and boys on how to react when something inappropriate happens."

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