Pastor: Tennessee church intern accused of statutory rape

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GALLATIN, Tenn. — A Tennessee pastor says a former student ministry intern has been charged with statutory rape.

The Tennessean reports Long Hollow Baptist Church Pastor Robby Gallaty released a statement on the arrest and allegation Sunday. He says the former intern was arrested last week. He says the abuse appears to have happened last summer during the intern’s 10-week service at the church’s Gallatin campus.

The church believes the incident didn’t happen on its property.

He says a student pastor heard about the abuse in December and notified Gallatin police. Gallaty says the intern misused “their position of influence with a student.”

Authorities nor the church released the former intern’s identity or age. However, WTVF was told the intern was Benjamin Widwirck.He was charged with three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure.

The church said they are working to learn how this happened.

“As with all of our employees, every intern we hire must pass a strict background check and interview process before they can serve with our church family. It sickens me that our processes and safeguards didn’t prevent this from happening. Long Hollow is a place where we take moral integrity and accountability seriously, and nowhere is that more crucial than on our staff. We’re doing our best to uncover how this relationship developed, and will do everything in our power to keep this from ever taking place again.”

For the full statement, click here.

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