Tennessee Baptist church intern arrested for sex with underage student
Benjamin Widwirck mugshot (Photo: Mugshot provided to media via county jail)

A 24-year-old intern at the Long Hollow Baptist Church in Tennessee was arrested and charged with three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure when his sexual encounter with a student was uncovered.


Benjamin Widwirck was working with the church over the summer, according to a website post by Pastor Robby Gallaty. The intern was serving during a 10-week service with a student team. He'd heard rumors of the situation in December, and contacted local police and church leadership, NewsChannel5 reported.

"I am both heartbroken for the victim and angry that this took place," he wrote. "In an effort to be as transparent and open as possible, I want to share with you as much as we can."

"Our primary concern right now is for the victim and her family...we hope to support them with love, support, counseling, and prayer," the pastor said.

There were no details about the age of the student, or the relationship they allegedly had.

Gallaty expressed his sadness about the event, particularly since it was a student entrusted with their care.

National church leadership has had problems in the past when the youth approached church leaders with accusations. In some cases, the parents were given a settlement and told to stay quiet. In the Catholic church, priests were moved around or sheltered from view for years. Rarely did the church contact the police. In this case, the pastor finally did.