By Bob Allen
The Mississippi Board of Pharmacy recently revoked the license of a convicted child molester who had worked at a drug store in Clinton, Miss., since resigning as music minister at a prominent Southern Baptist Church in 2011.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests reported the regulatory board accepted the voluntary revocation of John Langworthy’s pharmacy license during a public meeting Feb. 21. An agency official did not respond to a reporter’s e-mail seeking confirmation, but in recent days Langworthy’s record no longer appears in a search of a license-verification database on the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy website.
Langworthy, 50, served 22 years at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss., before resigning as associate pastor of music and ministries. After his resignation from the church, Langworthy confessed to the congregation Aug. 7, 2011, his sin of having “sexual indiscretions with younger males” while serving churches in Mississippi and Texas in the 1980s.
Afterward, six men went to police claiming they were sexually abused by Langworthy when he babysat for families he met through serving in Baptist churches while a student at Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College between 1980 and 1984.
Langworthy pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to five felony counts of gratification of lust, but avoided prison time in a plea bargain offered in part by prosecutors because they were unsure their case would hold up in court due to ambiguity in Mississippi’s statute of limitations for sex crimes. If Langworthy violates terms of his suspended sentence, he could serve up to 50 years in prison.
Prior to moving to Clinton, Langworthy served five years at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas and was reportedly fired amid allegations of sexual misconduct with boys in 1989. Officials at the Southern Baptist megachurch have not responded publicly to questions about why they didn’t report their suspicions to police.
In January, SNAP held a vigil outside Prestonwood’s main campus in Plano, Texas, that included reading a letter from the mother of an alleged victim who charged that at the time pastors seemed more concerned about the church’s reputation than her son’s safety.
SNAP leaders say it is possible that Langworthy can still be charged with crimes committed in Texas a quarter century ago because he fled the state to avoid prosecution and never returned. An advocate close to the case says at least one Prestonwood victim has come forward to make a report to Dallas police and encouraged other possible victims to do the same.
SNAP leaders protested when Langworthy was licensed as a pharmacy technician on Nov. 28, 2011, and expressed gratitude that it is no longer valid.
“This will keep him out of a position that gives him authority and access to drugs that he could [use] to abuse more kids,” said Mark Belenchia, SNAP’s Mississippi leader. “Consequently, kids in Mississippi are safer.”
Formed in 1988 for support and advocacy by survivors of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, SNAP now claims 10,000 members representing multiple faiths and support groups that meet in 60 cities across the United States and internationally.