GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A Gaston County pastor was arrested on eight child sex offense charges Wednesday afternoon.
Jerry Friday, 61, is charged with one felony count of statutory sex offense, four counts of felony indecent liberties with a child, two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and one count of felony dissemination of obscene material to a minor.
Investigators say Friday is the pastor at New Providence Baptist Church in Mt. Holly. The alleged crimes, police say, involved multiple juvenile victims and took place on church grounds and at private residences.
Police say there were three victims, who at the time, were between the ages of 13 to 17 and are working to find out if any more kids were targeted.
In his first video appearance, Pastor Jerry Friday had very little to say about the charges he faces, but that’s not the case for some of his church members.
“I was shocked. Kind of hurt a little bit. I never looked at him like that or got those vibes,” said Bre Boatwright.
Boatwright grew up listening to Pastor Friday preach the gospel. She says he was like a father to her and nothing ever seemed off about him.
“I never seen him treat nobody bad. Ever. I never seen that. Ever,” Boatwright continued.
New questions surrounding the pastor’s character come after Gaston county police say he sexually assaulted three teenage girls who were members of his church. Boatwright doesn’t believe the allegations, but if they are true, she says her childhood pastor has some soul searching to do.
“You got to get it right with God, whatever it is. If it’s not you got it get it right,” she said.
“Until proven guilty he’s an innocent man and I just can’t see it,” said longtime church member Timonthy Reid.
Reid has been a member here for most of his life. He says if something fishy was to ever go on, the church would know about it seeing as it’s a small group with just about 30 members.
“I can’t see how that this right here would come about. I mean he would have had to be awful sneaky for that to happen,” Reid said.
Friday told the judge that he would be hiring his own attorney as he is set to be back in court in early January.
Friday is being held in the Gaston County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Anyone with information about the investigation is asked to call Det. Rheinson at 704-866-3320 or Crime Stoppers at 704-861-8000.