Former Baptist Pastor Accused of Lewd Acts With a Minor
ABILENE, TX – The former worship leader at Grace Bible Study Jeff Berry, 55, was arrested on Monday, October 14th for a child sex crime. Berry is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old in 1994.
According to KTXS, at the time of the alleged abuse, Berry was working at the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church and leading worship for various church camps. The victim, who is now 35 years old, claims the abuse began when he was in middle school. Allegations include touching and spooning after Berry took the victim’s shirt off.
"He turned out all of the lights and had candles instead; he had us both lie on the floor next to each other in the dark to watch a movie," said the victim, "I was ashamed and embarrassed about what had happened.”
KTXS obtained a divorce affidavit in which the victim details the abuse and describes the shame he experienced.
"It was all very uncomfortable and scary to me, and the next thing I remember, I was in his car and he was taking me home," the victim said.
The victim never told his parents about the abuse and felt at times that it had been his fault. He did disclose the abuse to an aunt years later. While counseling another kid who was molested by another suspect, he told his aunt what happened with Berry.
"I blurted out that was me and then my aunt helped me address the issue," the victim said.
The alleged sexual assault was not reported until October of 2018.
A second victim has alleged that Berry similarly assaulted him, in a candlelight room with music playing in the background. At the time of this alleged assault, Berry was employed by the First Baptist Church of Abilene to lead worship for a summer camp.
The second victim was in high school at the time of the abuse and alleges that he and Berry became friends. One night when they were hanging out at Berry's home, Berry allegedly started massaging the victim's shoulders. The alleged sexual abuse went on for 15-20 minutes.
"Berry then took his shirt off and asked me to take off mine or took mine off himself, and then he put me on top of him, kissing, caressing and fondling me," said the second victim.
Berry currently lives in Franklin, Tennessee, but was arrested on a sealed indictment out of Taylor County. Berry worked for several Texas churches and then moved to Nashville, where he managed several Christians musicians.
He is being charged with indecency with a child by contact and with being a fugitive from justice. His bond has been set at $10 million and is being held at the Williamson County Jail (TN) until he is transported back to Taylor County. He's expected to appear in court on Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.
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