Church leader charged with sex crimes against teen

Church leader charged with sex crimes against teen
Jolly leading a gospel concert in Rowan County in 2012
Jolly leading a gospel concert in Rowan County in 2012

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A local man known for his work with youth in schools and churches is facing a number of sex crime charges involving an underage victim.

Michael Lynn Jolly, 54, of Mooresville, was arrested Thursday night and booked into the Rowan County Detention Center just before 10:30 pm.

Jolly is charged with statutory rape/sex offense of a person 13, 14, or 15 years of age by a defendant at least six years older, indecent liberties with children, and dissemination of obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

According to the report at the Rowan Sheriff's Office, the alleged victim was 15 at the time of the incidents, that are said to have occurred between March 22, 1998, and June 1, 1998.The alleged victim told investigators that he was raped by Jolly, and that Jolly showed him pornographic materials.

Jolly met the alleged victim through a church activity, according to the report.

Michael Jolly is well known in the southern Rowan and Mooresville area for church work, FFA participation, and volunteering to drive activity buses for local schools.  According to the report, Jolly was not an employee of the school system.

According to Rowan-Salisbury School records, Jolly completed paperwork in 1993 to drive an activity bus for South Rowan High School, but he was not on the school system payroll.

Many in the Atwell area are in shock over the allegations.  One man who is a neighbor and close friend of Jolly says he does not believe the allegations.

"I cannot believe this is true," the man told WBTV.  "Michael is the last person that I would believe to be capable of something like this.  Why did they wait 16 years?  Something about this isn't right."

Jolly was listed as a "youth leader" on the web site for Unity United Methodist Church on Unity Church Road, but his name was removed Friday afternoon.

"This has just happened last night I understand, so I've got a few phone calls, a few texts, but we're going to deal with this the best we can and continue to worship and support one another," Unity United Methodist Pastor Timothy Whittington told WBTV.  "We will also be praying for Michael.  We don't know when and where or any details about Michael other than this has happened, and I'm sure there are going to be quite a few others shocked."

On the arrest report Jolly is listed as a self employed carpenter.

Jolly is being held under $250,000 bond.

"We're just speechless and the only thing I can say is just we have a great church that looks forward to getting out in the community and working and worshipping with one another," Reverend Whittington added. "Michael been a member of this church for a long time and a lot of people here have grown up with Michael, so we'll do the best we can to get through this and embrace out church and do the best we can. We'll just leave it in the hands of God and do our best."

Investigators want to hear from anyone else who may have information on this, or any other case involving Jolly.  The contact person at the Rowan Sheriff's Office is Sarah Benfield, 704-216-8739.

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