Charles “Rick” Willits

Austin Southern Baptist Church in Austin, TX

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Minister charged with sex assault

Police: Official got teen into his car at bus stop by offering him a ride

By Claire Osborn
December 9, 2007

This story was previously published August 2, 2006.

The minister of education at Austin’s Great Hills Baptist Church has been accused by police of luring a 15-year-old boy into his car at a bus stop and sexually assaulting him.

Austin police said Jerry Dale Carver, 51, was arrested Monday at his home and charged with sexual assault of a child in connection with the July 25 incident. The second-degree felony carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

Police do not think Jerry Dale Carver, a minister at Great Hills Baptist Church in Northwest Austin, has assaulted anyone at the church.

Carver was released from the Travis County Jail on Monday night on $20,000 bail and could not be reached for comment.

Carver told police that the teenager got into his vehicle willingly and initiated sexual contact with him, an arrest affidavit said.

Carver’s arrest marks the second time that a leader at the 5,000-member Northwest Austin church has been accused of sexually assaulting a teen. In 1999, youth minister Charles Richard “Rick” Willits was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy he met at church. Willits is eligible for parole in April, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

In Carver’s case, police say they are looking for other possible victims. Sgt. Brian Loyd would not offer details but said detectives think Carver has picked up other minors at bus stops. They do not think Carver has assaulted anyone from the church, Loyd said.

Police said Carver offered the boy a ride while the teen was at a bus stop at Parmer Lane and Metric Boulevard at about 3:30 p.m. July 25. Police said the boy did not know Carver but got into his vehicle. Police said Carver “engaged him in inappropriate conversation and physical contact” and then grabbed the boy when he tried to get out of the vehicle.

“Carver told the child victim something to the effect of ‘don’t try to do anything stupid,’ ” according to the affidavit.

“The suspect drove the victim to a park near the 11600 block of Mopac (Boulevard) and sexually assaulted him” before driving the victim home, police said in a written statement.

Carver asked the teen for his phone number, and the boy gave it to him, Loyd said.

Court documents say the 15-year-old told police different versions of what happened.

According to an arrest affidavit, the teen initially flagged down an officer in his neighborhood on Thursday, two days later, and reported that three men had forced him into a car at knifepoint and sexually assaulted him.

On Friday, police were called to the teen’s home and found Carver, the teen and a friend of the teen, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, the teen told officers that Carver called him earlier that day and asked for permission to come to the teen’s home. The teen agreed, and when Carver arrived, the teen and his friend struck Carver and his vehicle with a baseball bat, the affidavit said.

Loyd said the teen told officers that he had hit Carver to keep him at the scene until police arrived.

All three agreed to go to the department’s child abuse unit and provide statements to officers, the affidavit said. During that interview, the teen told police that Carver was one of three men who had sexually assaulted him, the affidavit said.

On Monday, the affidavit said, the teen told police that Carver alone had assaulted him and that he had blamed it on three armed assailants “because he was embarrassed by what happened.”

Church officials would not say how long Carver has worked there.

“The church is saddened by the report today by the Austin Police Department, and we are concerned for all of the individuals involved,” read a statement issued Tuesday by Pastor Michael Lewis. The church declined to comment further because of the investigation, the pastor’s statement said.

It is standard practice for Baptist churches to do background checks on people they hire, said Barry Chinn, former pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church who is now a pastor at Cowboy Church of Travis County.

Anyone with information about this or other incidents involving Carver is asked to call the police department’s child abuse tip line at 974-6880.; 445-3871

SNAP NOTE:   The senior pastor of this church, Michael Lewis, is a member of the Executive Committee for the Southern Baptist Convention.

See also:

Child abuse detectives file sexual assault charge,”, 8/2/06

Second former minister of Austin Southern Baptist church convicted of molestion,” EthicsDaily, 12/21/07

Former Austin church minister sentenced in sexual assault of minor,” FOX 7 News, 1/23/08


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