By Bob Allen
A former youth minister at a Southern Baptist church in Maryland pleaded guilty March 20 to sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl attending the congregation’s vacation Bible school.
Walter Harrison Yocum, 35, pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual offense in the third degree, according to the Baltimore Sun. At the time of his arrest last August, he was youth minister and contemporary worship musician at Calvary Baptist Church in Bel Air, Md. He will be sentenced May 30 and faces up to 10 years in prison.
Yocum was charged Aug. 23 with third- and fourth-degree sexual offense, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault. According to a letter on the Calvary Baptist Church website, Yocum was suspended with pay when he confessed to his pastor about “having an inappropriate relationship with someone other than his wife.” After evidence pointed to “ongoing misconduct with a minor beyond what was initially confessed,” he was fired.
Founded in 1949, Calvary Baptist Church reports an average weekly attendance of 370 in its entry in the Southern Baptist Convention’s church search database. The congregation has long been active in the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
Senior Pastor Ralph Green said in a statement at the time of Yocum’s arrest that church leaders were “outraged and ashamed of this unacceptable, immoral and sinful conduct unbecoming of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Green would not say whether or not the girl and her family were church members. “Quite honestly that is not what is important,” he wrote. “The safety, security and well being of all children and their future lives are of prime importance.”