By Bob Allen
A chaperone for a church youth group has been arrested on 24 counts of sex offenses against minors at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly in Fort Caswell.
Clyde Wesley Way, 68, of Albemarle, N.C., is charged with 16 counts of first-degree sex exploitation of a minor, four counts of employing or permitting a minor to assist in offenses and four counts of indecent liberties with a child.
Incidents involving four juvenile males between the ages of 10 and 13 are alleged to have occurred between June 24 and June 29, the week of the third of seven youth weeks sponsored throughout the summer by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
The Port City Daily in Wilmington, N.C., quoted from arrest warrants alleging Way made the boys play strip poker with him.
Hal Bilbo, associational missionary for Stanly Baptist Association, said in a press release that the children attending the camp reported their chaperone’s inappropriate behavior to parents. The parents notified their pastor and the Baptist association.
After meeting with parents and the volunteer, Bilbo said, the association immediately notified the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives from that office, along with the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, made the arrest. Way was taken to the Stanly County Detention Facility in Albemarle, N.C., and held on $350,000 bond.
The press release said Way was a volunteer student ministries team leader for the Baptist association but was removed after the allegations came to light. Churches across the county have scheduled a workshop Aug. 12 to better equip churches in preventive policies and practices.
Originally a military outpost located on Oak Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Fort Caswell is one of four conference centers owned by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. A reported 7,000 youth attend youth weeks at Caswell each summer. The camp is used year-round for senior-adult and marriage retreats.
A state convention spokesperson did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment before this story was posted.
Last month in Houston, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on sexual abuse of children calling on churches to report accusations of child abuse to police, cooperative fully with law enforcement and develop and implement sound policies for protection of children.