A Baptist pastor in Indiana has been arrested on child molestation charges after sexually assaulting at least five girls under the age of 10.
According to FOX 59, 72-year-old Garry Evans, pastor of Rushville Baptist Temple Church, was placed under arrest on Thursday and charged with three counts of child molestation, four counts of sexual battery, and five counts of child solicitation.
Officers with the Rushville Police Department said they first began investigating Evans on September 3, when the mother of a three-year-old girl informed authorities that her daughter was sexually solicited by the pastor after her lured her into his office with the promise of candy.
Authorities subsequently interviewed four more girls under the age of 10 who said Evans molested them after offering them candy. One girl even claimed that she was solicited "nearly every time she went to church."
Investigators said they believe Evans would get the girls from Bible study, offer them candy in his office, and touch them or have them touch him inappropriately. Police said the assaults would last a few minutes before he returned them to Bible study
During the course of their investigation, police said another woman came forward and said the same thing happened to her as a young girl nearly 30 years ago, reports wishtv.
"There's not been a day gone by that we haven't done something associated with this case," said Rushville Police Chief Craig Tucker, adding he believes there are more victims who have yet to come forward.
"If you have a child who has exhibited unusual behavior after being in the vicinity of the church or this pastor and you believe there has been something that has happened to this child that might indicate something inappropriate happened, we definitely want them to give us a call."
Evans was reportedly arrested at the church he pastored for the last 30 years and is being held without bond at the Rush County Jail.
Camishe Nunley, with Healing with Hidden Hurts, said it's estimated that year after year one in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. In a majority of those cases, the abuse is by someone they know, love and trust.
"If they can find a way to develop some relationship where they're in power, where they're in control they will utilize that with pedophiles, they have this unquenchable desire and thirst for that level of intimacy with children," she said. "If a child does come to you, we as adults let them know that we believe them, and that we're going to do our very best to take care of them and to protect them."