Former Alabama youth minister arrested for allegedly sodomizing teen boys

By David Ferguson
Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:27 EDT
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Oliver Brazelle via Lauderdale Cty corrections
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A former youth minister and music director from First United Methodist Church in Sheffield, Alabama was arrested this week and charged with second-degree sexual abuse and one count of second-degree sodomy.

According to the Florence Times-Daily, 79-year-old Oliver Brazelle was arrested Monday afternoon by agents of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

Brazelle is accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy who was a member of his youth group. The crime reportedly took place at Brazelle’s residence in the suburb Happy Hollow in the mid-1990s.

The arrest came after an investigation by the ABI, said agent Brian Faulkner. Allegations surfaced in 2012 that Brazelle had engaged in inappropriate relations with boys in his congregation, but at the time, no victims were willing to come forward.

Faulkner began his investigation in December when an adult victim came forward and announced his willingness to cooperate with the agency.

Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray told the Times-Daily, “Officially, we never had a victim. We talked to several people, but no one (came) forward.”

“I’m glad someone finally stepped up,” Ray said. “Maybe this will bring others forward.”

First United’s senior pastor Zeke Haselden and chairman of the church’s board of administrators, Billy Don Anderson fired Brazelle as music director in July of 2012. He had not served as a youth minister of the church for more than a decade.

“He was employed by the church and he was dismissed,” Anderson said. “Since the beginning, we moved quick to turn it over to the authorities. I am pleased with the way the church has handled this and supported each other, when this first surfaced.”

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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