Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Child Abuse: If Only Marrieds Were Allowed to Become Priests ....Oh Wait

GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- Prosecutors charged the pastor of a church here with four counts of first-degree child rape and two counts of child molestation.

Pierce County sheriff spokesman Jerry Bates said a 7-year-old girl told an older friend that Stephen Kerr had been molesting her. The friend told a youth pastor who contacted police.

Bates said Kerr, who is pastor of the Gig Harbor Church of the Nazarene, confessed to members of the church and told them he was going to surrender to police.

In court on Tuesday he pleaded not guilty to all the charges. In court documents, prosecutors allege that the sexual abuse has been going on since the girl was five years old.

Church members were in the courtroom during Kerr's arraignment.

"We can't condone what he did. It was wrong, but we still love the man," said church member Mimi Hughes.

Kerr grew up in Yakima, Wash., and has ministered in Gig Harbor for two years. He is married and has four children.

Kerr is being held at the Pierce County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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