Police: ‘Extremely high likelihood’ more children sexually abused by Abilene church worker

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Police say there is an ‘extremely high likelihood’ more children were sexually abused by an Abilene church worker arrested for child sex crimes. 

Benjamin Roberts, 25, was arrested for Possession of Child Pornography and Indecency with a Child – Sexual Contact Wednesday and is being held in the Taylor County Jail on bonds totaling $300,000. 

During a press conference following the arrest, Sergeant Lynn Beard said investigators believe Robert may have groomed and assaulted more victims.

He’s asking parents to talk to their children if they may have had contact with Roberts to talk with them, and if any crime is suspected, to make a report with the Abilene Police Department at (325)673-8331.

A press release from the Abilene Police Department states Roberts was contacted in connection to a child pornography investigation that began at a community outreach home at 465 Cockerell Street in February.

The suspect, later identified as Roberts, is accused of downloading porn at the home multiple times between July and September of 2017, according to the press release, which states Roberts was finally taken into custody when a search warrant was executed at the home Wednesday.

During the search warrant execution, the release states officers seized several items of child pornography as well as a pair of children’s underwear. 

The press release also states that after his arrest, Roberts “admitted to touching one child under 12 inappropriately in 2017.”

Roberts’ Facebook page shows he has worked with children at the following Abilene churches: 

  • Wylie Baptist Church Child Development Center – Pre-K Teacher (Feb 2016 – Present)
  • Southern Hills Church of Christ – Nursery Worker (Aug 2013 – Present)
  • Beltway Kids South – Childcare Provider (Aug 2014 – May 2015)
  • Camp of the Hills in Mineral Falls, Texas – Counselor (May 2008 – August 2013)

Abilene police say Roberts also worked with children at a community outreach home, the same location where the search warrant was executed. 

“APD is working to determine the timeline regarding when Roberts worked for each entity. We are also trying to determine any other locations where Roberts may have worked. In this case and with others like it, there is a high likelihood more victims are in our community,” the press released reads.

KTAB and KRBC have reached out to all churches listed on Roberts’ Facebook page, but as of 4:30 p.m., only two had responded with comment. 

Southern Hills Church of Christ, where Roberts was employed as a Nursery worker, released the following statement:

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Abilene Police Department informed our church office that Ben Roberts, a former employee of Southern Hills children’s ministry, was in police custody and under investigation for indecency with a child and possession of child pornography. 

Southern Hills has a vigorous background check system in place that all employees and volunteers seeking to work in our children’s ministries must go through before being allowed to participate in those ministries. Ben went through that system, and his report showed no areas of concern. As an extra safeguard, Southern Hills strictly prohibits any employee or volunteer from ever being alone with a child or children. Our children are blessings from God, and their safety and well-being are our highest priorities. 

And, this statement was released by Beltway Park South: 

Beltway Park Church was informed by the Abilene Police Department that Benjamin Roberts, a former employee of Beltway Park Kid’s Club After School Ministry from Sept 3, 2014 through May 28, 2015, was arrested on child pornography and indecency with a child charges.  He served in our After School Ministry but was not involved in any other children or youth ministry at our church.

To do all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our children on a daily basis, all employees must go through a criminal background check.  This was done and returned to us clear.  We also maintain a strict policy in all areas of youth and children’s ministry, including our after-school program, that no adult may be alone with a student or child at any time.  We work to strictly enforce this policy at all times.

We are deeply saddened by these events, and our prayers are with all who may be involved.

Wylie Baptist Church released the following statement: 

Wylie Baptist Church Child Development Center was informed earlier today that official charges had been made regarding Benjamin Roberts, who was terminated upon notification of arrest. The information we have at this time is that the case is revolving around activity in the home and is not associated with our facility. We are cooperating fully with the Abilene Police Department in this ongoing investigation and have notified Child Care Licensing as we work through this case with them and APD. Regular background checks and observations have not indicated any activity that would raise concern. Our primary concerns are for the safety and well being of the children in our care, keeping parents informed, and being in prayer for all involved as we process this information. Should you have a
concern regarding your child, the APD has asked that you call the non-emergency line immediately to file a report at 325-673-8331 so it can be handled accordingly.

BigCountryHomepage will update this article as additional information on the allegations against Roberts’ is released. 

Full video of press conference: 

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