8 victims now tied to ex-Abilene church worker accused of child sex crimes

8 victims now tied to ex-Abilene church worker accused of child sex crimes

ABILENE, Texas — Police say they now have identified eight victims tied to a 24-year-old Abilene man who was arrested last week on child sex charges.And Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said there’s an “extremely high likelihood” that Benjamin Russell Roberts sexually assaulted even more victims.Police are continuing to conduct interviews with potential victims, and Standridge said he expects more victims to come forward.

Meanwhile, Standridge said the former director of the child development center at Wylie Baptist Church is expected to be charged in connection with the case.Before being arrested last week, Roberts had previously worked at Wylie Baptist Church’s Child Development Center and youth programs associated with at least two other Abilene churches.Seven of the eight victims are from Wylie Baptist Church’s CDC, according to the police chief. The eighth victim is from a north Abilene neighborhood center.Standridge said the director hasn’t been arrested, but that “we do anticipate filing charges at some point.””We have reason to believe that she (the director) was aware of some of these criminal accusations (against Roberts),” Standridge said during a news conference.Professionals are required by law to report child abuse, Standridge said.“Failure to do so can be an offense in the state of Texas,” the police chief said.Meanwhile, Wylie Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor Mike Harkrider issued a statement Wednesday.

“As you all know Wylie Baptist Child Development Center has been working closely with the Abilene Police Department and the Department of Family and Protective Services in regards to the Benjamin Roberts investigation. At this point in the investigation, the acting director of the Wylie Baptist Child Development Center, has been released from her position as per the Department of Family and Protective Services. The investigation is still ongoing and this is all we know at this time. We are in heartfelt prayer for all of those involved in this difficult situation — Wylie Baptist Church CDC Board of Directors”

When asked the name of Wylie Baptist CDC director, Harkrider said, “The information given on the previous email is all that we can give at this time.”

According to police, Roberts worked at three places where he was in contact with children, including the Wylie Baptist Church’s Child Development Center, Southern Hills Church of Christ daycare and Beltway Park Church’s youth program.

Roberts had no criminal record, according to police, so he would have passed any background checks.

Police are encouraging parents of children who attend or have attended Wylie Baptist’s CDC, Southern Hills or Beltway Park to talk to their kids. If they disclose abuse, you should call Abilene police immediately at (325) 673-8331.

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