CORSICANA, Texas (ABP) — A Texas Baptist youth minister was arrested March 19 on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Gary Welch, 42, minister of students at Northside Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas, was arraigned and held on $150,000 bond after a 16-year-old girl reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted by Welch since 2009, according to the Corsicana Daily Sun.
Police said due to the nature of the allegations, no further information would be released, but their investigation continues.
Rick Lamb, pastor of the church, released a statement to media saying he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the arrest and that he was “cooperating fully with law enforcement authorities as they investigate this matter.”
“The Psalmist wrote, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble,’” Lamb wrote. “We are asking God to help everyone involved with this matter during this time. We ask the public to pray for Gary’s family, the alleged victim and her family, for our church, and, until more is known, we also request our privacy be respected.”
According to his bio on the church website, Welch is married and has two sons. He attended East Texas Baptist College and currently attends Navarro Junior College, with hopes of someday attending either Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary or George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.
Prior to joining Northside Baptist Church in 2005, Welch reportedly worked with youth at Baptist churches in Forreston, Palmer and Ennis, Texas.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.