Female Youth Worker at Baptist Church Accused of Statutory Rape
A 35-year-old Tennessee woman is behind bars for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old boy she met at church.
Courtney Michelle Bingham was arrested on Dec. 4 after allegedly sending nude photos to the teen she met at Bethany Baptist Church in Loudon, Tennessee, where she served as a youth leader.
“She chaperoned him at several church events,” Detective Sgt. Jason Smith of the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “She was actively involved with the youth.”
Bingham faces charges of aggravated statutory rape and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor. She is being held at the Loudon County Jail in Lenoir City, Tennessee, in lieu of bond totaling $57,500 for both counts. Her next court appearance is scheduled April 3.
According to local media, both Bingham and the boy told police they had sex but disagreed about how many times. Authorities believe the pair began communicating over the summer but that nothing inappropriate happened until November.
The News-Herald in Lenoir City said Bingham served the past four years as family activities coordinator at Bethany Baptist Church.
“You just don’t think about this kind of thing going on in your Christian church family and certainly we loved her and considered her a special part of what we did here,” Pastor Rick Harrell told the newspaper. “She was faithful to the church, always had a bubbly attitude. The young people loved her, were drawn to her.”
News of the arrest coincides with an investigative reportby the Fort Worth Star-Telegramdocumenting hundreds of sex abuse allegations involving independent fundamental Baptistchurches around the country.
Bethany Baptist Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, a separate Baptist movement with abuse problems of its own.
[Editor’s Note: Article written by Bob Allen and originally published at Baptist News]