A homophobic pastor from Nashville, Tennessee is accused of molesting at least 8 children across two decades while he was the leader of Nolensville Road Baptist Church, a South Nashville congregation.
Matthew Dennis Patterson, 45, known as Denny, abruptly resigned on Sept. 24.
Days later, members of his congregation told police about his requests to “engage in strange activities” with children, authorities said.
Praising God for saving a soul at tonight’s children’s Christmas program! pic.twitter.com/qYxr55hg8r
— Denny Patterson (@Denny_Patterson) December 19, 2016
According to a police statement, children at the church told adult members that Patterson had asked them to sit on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear.
Detectives from the department’s Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Unit led a six-month investigation into the complaints, uncovering multiple victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998-2017.
Authorities did not reveal how old the children were at the time of the alleged abuse.
Police have indicted Patterson on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery, each count is linked to a different child. Police said more charges relating to additional victims “are anticipated” as the investigation continues.
The Tennessean adds:
Nashville police arrested Patterson in Pennsylvania on March 8 — he refused to talk to investigators. Patterson was extradited to Nashville on Friday, and his bond was set at $100,000.
Leaders at Nolensville Road Baptist have been “fully cooperative” with the investigation, according to police.
Church member James Thomas provided the following statement:
We here at Nolensville Road Baptist Church want to let our community know that the sinful actions of one man does not reflect upon the church as a whole. We remain committed to truth, transparency in all our operations, and for the care and support for the victims and family who have been victimized by the alleged perpetrator.
Our hearts grieve for the families involved.
During his time as pastor at Nolensville Road Baptist Church, Patterson railed against an anti-discrimination bill considered by the Metro Council in 2003 to protect LGBT people from discrimination in jobs and housing.
“We want to make sure we keep the pressure on, let them know that anytime they bring this up, we’ll be down here to oppose it,” Patterson told The Tennessean in an article published Feb. 5, 2003.
Praying for Governor Pence and the state of Indiana. The attack on religious freedom will not stop there. Thankful God is in control!
— Denny Patterson (@Denny_Patterson) March 31, 2015
As our world grows increasingly bold in it's ungodliness we must grow increasingly bold in our stand for righteousness.
— Denny Patterson (@Denny_Patterson) September 3, 2014
Saw this a moment ago. It has always been and will always be a sign of God's promise not a symbol of man's sin. pic.twitter.com/tgse0lR81U
— Denny Patterson (@Denny_Patterson) September 12, 2015