Pastor accused of child sex crimes in AR two years after TN church asked him to leave
A pastor was arrested on sex crime charges Monday while officiating a graveside service in Tennessee.
Larry Michael Berkley was taken into custody at Covington Memorial Gardens on charges out of Arkansas, where he had previously served as a pastor.
Berkley was indicted in Boone County, Ark., on first- and second-degree sexual assault charges and multiple counts of supplying alcohol to minors, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual solicitation, and loaning pornography to a minor.
The investigation began in late March, when Berkley was pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Harrison, Ark., and police interviewed more than a dozen alleged victims by mid-April.
All the victims were teenage boys between 14 and 18 years old, police said.
One of the teens told investigators he went to Berkley’s house in Harrison, Tenn., for Bible study, but instead the pastor allowed him to drink, smoke marijuana, and tobacco from a hookah.
Some of the teens said they would walk around the house nude with Berkley, and they said the pastor showed them pornography.
A church employee said at least $4,400 in money intended for a mission trip was missing from Shiloh Baptist.
Berkley previously served as pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Henning, Tenn., but was asked to leave.
“We are saddened to hear the news of his alleged activity and are praying for him and healing for those involved,” said Victory Baptist Pastor Obadiah Hedrick in a statement.
But church officials declined to say why Berkley had been asked to leave.
Watch this video report posted online by WREG-TV: