(Memphis) A COGIC pastor was arrested for sexual battery by an authority figure.
Michael Bryant, 48, is accused of molesting a 16-year-old family member for years.
Investigators said for the last two years, Bryant would sneak into her bedroom when her mother was asleep or at work, expose himself and fondle her.
He’s been the pastor at Hour of Restoration COGIC in Hickory Hill for the past three years. He was also an elder at Greater Community Temple COGIC.
“Knowing him, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Leonard Gray.
Gray says he never saw any signs. He looked up to Bryant at his church.
“He was a great preacher. You know, inspiring, so I mean it hurts to hear these things about a great man,” said Gray.
The alleged victim apparently told church and other family members about the abuse, but instead of calling police, they prayed the Lord would make it stop.
Bryant’s neighbor said he always sees him holding a bible.
“I was blown away. That was shocking,” said his neighbor.
After the alleged victim’s aunt reported the abuse, Bryant was arrested at a gas station next to his church on Knight Arnold.
An employee said Bryant was getting gas when deputies swarmed the place.
“I’m embarrassed as far as that being a COGIC preacher. I mean that is my religion,” said Torey Echols.
Prosecutors said the most recent instance of abuse happened Monday.
It’s up to the District Attorney’s office to determine whether to arrest the people who didn’t report the abuse.
Bryant is being held on a million dollar bond.