FAIRFAX, Va. (ABP) — A British Baptist minister is being held in a Virginia jail on charges of child molestation. Robert Dando, senior minister of Worcester Park Baptist Church in suburban London, was arrested July 24 in Oakton, Va.
He is charged with four counts of aggravated sexual battery of a victim under 13. A spokesman for the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office said Dando is being held without bond in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. His next court date is Sept. 23 at the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Amanda Allchorn, head of communications for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said in a statement on behalf of the congregation that Dando "has tendered his resignation from Worcester Park Baptist Church with immediate effect." She said the church and Dando's family "would welcome some space at this difficult time."
Dando's wife, Janice, is an attorney in the United Kingdom and a national vice president of the Boys' Brigade, an interdenominational Christian youth organization that involves 60,000 children and young people in over 1,500 groups in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Dando served as executive assistant to David Coffey when Coffey took over as president of the Baptist World Alliance in Birmingham, England, in 2005. Coffey, who recently completed his five-year term as BWA president, said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by news of Dando's arrest.
Coffey said Dando's duties as his assistant were voluntary and that he paid his own travel expenses. Coffey said no BWA funds were involved in Dando's service, which ended when Dando decided to become full-time pastor at Worcester Park in 2007.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.