A Tennessee youth leader was arrested last week after a 16-year-old boy told police that they had had sex at least 10 times. The youth leader is being charged with of aggravated statutory rape and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor.
According to the Christian Post, Courtney Bingham, 35, served as a youth leader at Bethany Baptist Church in Loudon, TN where she met the boy and was later arrested.
According to local news station WVLT, the local police were informed on the illegal relationship on December 3 and made the arrest the following day. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the boy’s father reported the relationship to the sheriff’s office.
Reportedly, Bingham had had sex with the teen in her home and sent him several “pornographic” photos of herself.
WVLT reports that Bingham did admit to police to having the sexual relationship with the boy but recalled that they had sex no more than four times.
In a statement released by the sheriff’s department, Sgt. Jason Smith urged the seriousness of the case saying, “It’s very serious. You’re dealing with somebody that’s 35 years old and has sent pornographic images of herself with inappropriate comments to a juvenile. Not only that, was also having sexual intercourse with him as a member of a self-described youth leader of the church.”
He continued, “So being in a position of an authority figure, being in a position of a caretaker at times at the residence, [it’s a] very serious matter as far as the crime that she’s committed."
Bethany Baptist Church’s pastor Rick Harrell commented on the incident noting that the church is taking extra precautions to make sure this does not happen again. He said, “We’re certainly looking at every avenue to prevent something like this. Meeting with our youth leaders, directors, to be more cautious about what we see and what’s going on. When people are friendly and befriending people, you never know if something of the irresponsible nature’s going on. It’s just impossible to tell unless you have some sort of clear evidence.”
Harrell described Bingham as “bubbly” and “friendly.” The pastor also noted that he never would have expected this to be happening at his 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,” Harrell said.
Bingham is currently being held at the Loudon County jail with bond set at $57,500. She is set to appear in court in April 2019.
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