MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 30-year-old Mississippi pastor and teacher has been charged with the exploitation of a child, according to the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department.
Kyle Hilleary was arrested on November 7 by DCSD and his bond was set at $250,000. Reports state, he bonded out of jail on the same day.
Cedar View Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi released a statement on its website saying,
“We will comply with the authorities to the fullest extent, should they choose to question Cedar View Baptist Church. As of this writing, we have not been contacted by any governmental authorities, and we have had no direct contact with Kyle or members of his family. Kyle is suspended from his employment indefinitely until the church can together take further action in accordance with its bylaws.”
Joe Whitten has a unique connection to Cedar View Baptist Church. He says his father started the church in 1963.
Whitten says that he was shocked to learn that Hilleary had been arrested.
“Anything like this is just terrible, and it’s going to be devastating to a lot of people because they put their trust in him,” said Whitten.
Hilleary’s LinkedIn page lists him as a Pastor in Residence at the church.
Hilleary was also employed as a teacher at Cross Creek Christian School but has been terminated, according to a statement released by the school.
“As this matter involves the arrest of a staff member, the Administrator and School Board have decided to immediately terminate Mr. Hilleary and not allow him on the campus while the investigation and legal proceedings are pending against him. … At this time, we are not aware of any of the allegations involving any actions while on campus or as a teacher at the school.
“As a ministry, when an allegation is made against an employee, our organization immediately removes that individual from any contact with children pending the outcome of the criminal matter, and we fully cooperate with parents, state officials, and law enforcement. We believe that if children are safe anywhere, they should be safe at Cross Creek.”
Investigators reportedly searched Hilleary’s classroom at Cross Creek Christian Academy but no details were released.
It’s unknown where the alleged act Hilleary is charged with took place, but Joe Whitten believes that if Hilleary is guilty, it may be difficult for the congregation to forgive him.
“This church has been [here] a long time, and a lot of people, some of the older people that’s been around, they’re not going to take it well,” said Whitten.
This investigation is being handled by the state Attorney General’s Office with the assistance of the DCSD and the Olive Branch Police Department.