On Thursday, a pastor in Muscle Shoals, Alabama pleaded guilty to 16 counts of sodomy, three counts of sexually abusing a child under 12-years-old, and one count of child pornography.
Jeffrey Dale Eddie, also known as "Brother Jeff," had served as the children's pastor at Highland Park Baptist Church since 1998. He was first discovered molesting a young boy on January 22, 2014, however, it was not until four days later that church leaders notified police of the abuse, which is a clear violation of Alabama law.
Alabama has a mandatory reporting statute that requires "[a]ll hospitals, clinics, sanitariums, doctors, physicians, surgeons, medical examiners, coroners, dentists, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurses, school teachers and officials, peace officers, law enforcement officials, pharmacists, social workers, day care workers or employees, mental health professionals, members of the clergy" to report cases of child abuse or neglect.
According to court documents obtained by WAFF, Eddie confessed to performing acts of oral sex on many of the youths in his charge. When police asked how many youths he may have molested, Eddie said that there were "so many that [he] advised he cannot remember."
Over the protestations of his lawyer, Eddie's bond was set at $1 million.
Colbert County District Attorney Bryce Graham said the reason for that is because, "[b]ased on the evidence in this case and the seriousness of the allegations, we feel it's better for the community that the defendant remains incarcerated."
The church posted a message on its website asking anyone with information about further abuses perpetrated by Eddie to contact the Muscle Shoals Police Department.
Watch a report on the press conference following Eddie's arrest below.