Friend "shocked" over suicide of accused child molester who worked at church

59-year-old Danny Ray Kesler (Source: Facebook)
59-year-old Danny Ray Kesler (Source: Facebook)

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A house parent in a Rowan County church school took his own life after being confronted with allegations that he had sexually abused young girls in the school.

Twelve years ago, there were similar allegations but nothing was done and many in the community want to know why.

According to the Rowan Sheriff's Office, Danny Kesler took his own life after leaders at the City of Refuge School at Bible Missionary Baptist Church confronted him over allegations made by three teenaged girls at the school.

The girls had said that Kesler had inappropriate sexual contact with them.

Terry Rollins was friends with Danny Kesler.  Rollins runs a knife store in Kannapolis and he says Kesler visited often, sometimes bringing children from the City of Refuge.

"Him and his wife had given up everything to operate this children's home for the church and they were faithful in doing it," Rollins told WBTV.

Rollins was shocked to hear of the new allegations and of Kesler's suicide just minutes after being confronted by church leaders.

Kesler and his wife were house parents at a dormitory on the church campus on Old Concord Road in Rowan County.

Buddy Hoffner is the church pastor and was not available on Friday.  WBTV went to the church but the doors were locked and phone messages left on were not returned.

Rollins says what should not be overlooked is the good that the church and school have accomplished for troubled children.

"This home was doing a very good job through the years of taking children like this and making them productive for society and many of them had gotten saved and right with the Lord and went on to lead good lives," Rollins added. "Society only looks at the bad things, we have to look at both."

But he also believes that Kesler gave into temptation.

"I think sometimes Satan knows when our weakest moments are, and that's what his job is, he offers the temptation at your weakest moment," Rollins added. "We'll all stand before God one day, and only those who are saved can be assured that their sins are forgiven and society has trouble with that."

Rollins says as a friend he would encourage people to pray for Kesler's wife and for the alleged victims.

One big question in all of this remains unanswered: How does a man with a criminal record, including violent charges, end up working as a house parent for young children?

Though no one from the church was available to answer that, it was known that the church also operated a transition ministry designed to help individuals with a criminal past.

The sheriff says the investigation is continuing.

Captain John Sifford told WBTV that investigators want to find out if there are any more alleged victims.  Right now, no charges are anticipated against anyone and Kesler is thought to be the lone perpetrator, according to the sheriff.

Kesler is survived by his wife, five daughters, and 12 grandchildren.

Twelve years ago, an investigation was launched by an investigators with the Rowan Sheriff's Office.  No charges were filed at the time.

Danny Kesler worked at the City of Refuge in 2002, but it is not known if the allegations at that time were against him.

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