The concerned family member of a victim of sexual assault has come forward after the former pastor of the Mtn. View Assembly of God Church was arrested on child molestation charges.
The family member said she wants to let the public and other church members know this isn’t the first time a church member has been accused of sexual crimes against children.
Gregory Scott Reese, 45, of Birch Tree, was arrested March 4 and released on $100,000 bail. The investigation began on Feb. 12 when a juvenile told an adult relative that Reese had been touching her in a sexual manner. The next day, the girl told a school counselor the same thing, according to reports filed by Shannon County Deputy Keith Rader.
In an interview with a children’s division investigator, the alleged victim said during the incidents Reese touched her in a sexual manner and initiated other types of sexual contact on 10 to 15 occasions, according to Rader.
Reese was charged with three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one count of fourth-degree child molestation after allegedly sexually assaulting the juvenile during December. The charges were filed in Shannon County and each is a felony.
Assemblies of God Southern Missouri District Council Superintendent Don Miller confirmed to the Quill that Reese was fired after the charges were filed. Reese had been a pastor at the Mtn. View church about two years leading up to his dismissal.
“We take these issues very seriously,” said Miller. “I want to make it very plain we handle these things right away, if there’s any substantiation.”
In late May 2018, another church member, James Adam Lindsey, 30, of Mtn. View, pleaded guilty to one count of statutory sodomy with a victim less than 14 years old and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Lindsey reportedly described himself to investigators as someone who was very involved in his church and had interactions with church youth.
He was originally charged with statutory rape and two counts of statutory sodomy related to that case in January 2017.
The incident reportedly happened in the two months prior to being reported by the child, who had just turned 5 years old at the time of the assault.
According to a probable cause statement filed by the Mtn. View Police Department, an alleged second victim came forward after the first allegations were made public, including an additional charge that was later dropped. The other alleged incident, deviant sexual intercourse, took place with a boy less than 12 years old during July 2016. Lindsey reportedly told both victims the assaults were a secret between them.
MORE TO THE STORY
A family member of one of the victims, who read about Reese’s charges in Friday’s edition, contacted the Quill to ask why it wasn’t made public that Reese was a pastor at the Assembly of God Church in Mtn. View. During the phone call, the woman also reported that Reese wasn’t the first church member to have been charged with sexual assault against a child.
The family member said she was concerned because church members had not been informed of charges against either Lindsey or Reese and she wondered if there might be other victims.
The information that Reese was a pastor at the church was released by the Associated Press after the Quill had gone to print.
The family member said Lindsey had reportedly served as a youth pastor in the church. However, after Reese was made aware of an allegation from a young girl that Lindsey had touched her inappropriately, Reese removed Lindsey from contact with children as a youth pastor.
According to the woman, Lindsey was later reinstated by Reese after his replacement didn’t work out. He and Reese were close friends, she added, and she tried to avoid any personal interaction with Reese after the case was resolved.
In an effort to avoid Reese, she said she spoke with officials with the Ava Assembly of God Church while seeking rent assistance but was directed back to Reese. She said she told church officials why she didn’t want to speak to Reese, telling them he had “covered stuff up,” and offered them information from police reports and court records about Lindsey’s case. However, she said they still directed her to Reese.
Court records show on Dec. 10, Lindsey filed a motion against the State of Missouri to “vacate, set aside or correct the judgment or sentence filed” in civil court.
OFFICIAL CHURCH POLICY
The procedure for anyone working with youth or children in an Assemblies of God district council church is for a background check to be run whether the person is credentialed, Miller said. The person responsible for providing the names of youth workers is the church pastor.
Mtn. View is a district council church and falls under the guidelines, said Miller.
The requirement doesn’t apply to general council churches, but they are highly encouraged to do so, he added. He also said the Assemblies of God council has a central agency so anyone banned from one church is red-flagged. This means the person “can’t just move” to another church within the system.
Miller could not confirm Lindsey was working with youth in any kind of official capacity and said he did know of an incident that happened, but the council didn’t know if it was directly related to a church activity or if the incidents happened while Lindsey was officially representing the church.
THE CASE AGAINST LINDSEY
In an interview with Mtn. View police officer Eleanor Carson, who investigated Lindsey’s case, he reportedly told the officer he was very active in his church and took children to church camps for the summer and served as a camp leader and supervisor. However, Lindsey said after he told his pastor about his past he was told to have no interactions with children at the church until the allegations were resolved.
Carson stated Lindsey was named as a suspect in several Division of Family Services (DFS) reports of child molestation with five victims ranging in age from 1 to 9, most of them under the age of 5. According to the reports, Lindsey is a serial pedophile who had been sexually assaulting children for six years prior to the charges. Three different reports from DFS in Dent County allege he had sexually abused four other children from 2011 to 2014.
He had a habit of moving away from areas where he was facing accusations, according to the reports. Lindsey lived in Mtn. View less than two years at the time of the charges.
According to court records, the Mtn. View incidents happened while Lindsey and his then-girlfriend were babysitting.