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Southern Baptist Seminarian Faces Molestation Charges

A seminarian in North Carolina was arrested last week on charges of sexual molestation of children.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary suspended a student charged with sexually abusing a 10-year-old child while working after hours with a YMCA program in an elementary school.

Police charged Justin Eugene Taylor, 27, of Wake Forest, N.C., with one count of indecent liberties with a child. He was arrested Thursday and later released on a $40,000 bond.

The arrest warrant, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, said there was probable cause to believe that Taylor “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did attempt to take immoral, improper and indecent liberties against (a minor) for the purpose of arousing and gratifying sexual desire.”

On his MySpace page, which is no longer online, Taylor said he was studying to become a pastor at the Southern Baptist Convention seminary and wrote about his work with the YMCA.

“I do love kids and hope to have a big family some day and have a ball workin’ with the little curtain-climbers at the YMCA,” he wrote, according to WRAL.com.

The television station quoted seminary officials who said Taylor was suspended indefinitely, standard procedure when students face such charges, but made no other comment.

The News & Observer reported a greeting on Taylor’s phone answering machine said he could not answer his phone because of personal problems. “I would ask that you keep me in your personal prayers,” he said.

Justin Taylor is the second student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary named in headlines involving molestation in recent months.

In August Brian “Doug” Goodrich was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting eight young boys while working as a volunteer youth intern at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.

Southeastern isn’t the only Southern Baptist seminary marred by connections to sex offenders. A search of the Kentucky State Police sex offender registry by EthicsDaily.com this spring turned up two campus addresses of students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Seminary officials declined comment, but said later both students were no longer enrolled.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention recently passed a resolution calling for increased attention to sexual abuse by clergy but dropped a proposal to create a register of sexual abusers in ministry.

The Southern Baptist Convention last summer requested its Executive Committee to study the feasibility of a national registry of clergy abuse, but leaders appear to be leaning against it. SBC President Frank Page told a Kentucky newspaper if Southern Baptists had a registry, abusers would simply transfer to another denomination that doesn’t have one.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.