Southern Religion

Former Baptist pastor charged with sex crimes & listed as theological seminary dean

Covington Theological Seminary Southeast Alabama Extention School

Former Alabama Southern Baptist pastor Ralph L. Aaron was as of this writing still listed as a Covington Theological Seminary extension dean offering instruction at First Baptist Church in Opp, Ala.

Aaron was arrested Oct. 21 and is being held on $24.2 million bond for some 150 sex crimes involving child pornography and the abuse of eight- to 12-year-old victims. He reportedly has a degree from Covingtion and wrote a print-on-demand book, reviewed by The Alabama Baptist, based on his thesis.

Aaron was reportedly fired upon arrest by non-denominatinal Grace Christian Fellowship in Andalusia, Ala., where he had been pastor for more than three years. Prior to that he was pastor at Victory Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church, also in Andalusia.

District Attorney Greg Gambril said the Covington County Sheriff’s Department has put together a “very strong case” and that the state will be seeking multiple life sentences.

According to the Andalusa Star News

The investigation began last Tuesday after a mother, who had heard rumors of a previous incident involving Aaron, had a “straightforward” conversation with her son. That incident stemmed from a 2005 complaint that occurred while Aaron was serving at Andalusia’s Victory Baptist Church. No charges were filed in the 2005 complaint, which was investigated by the Covington County District Attorney’s office and the Department of Human Resources.

As a result of that conversation, the mother determined her son may have had inappropriate contact with Aaron, and she elected to contact authorities.

“Surprisingly, (the victim) was open and honest, and they discussed it at length before contacting law enforcement,” [lead sheriff’s investigator Wesley] Snodgrass said. “It was quickly identified as a substantial case.”

Not substantial enough for the Alabama Baptist online to report it, however. Thus far. The independent Associated Baptist Press has a thorough account.

Covington Theological Seminary is controversial for “accreditation through an agency that is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and is an outgrowth of a company that was once charged with fraud.”

Covingtion attracted attention the first time Johnny Hunt was elected Southern Baptist Convention president, because it was the source of one of the two honorary Phds. he claimed. Although he has earned no academic Phd., he accepted and still asserts being termed “Dr. Johnny Hunt.” based on one or both of his two diploma mill tokens.

October 30, 2009 - Posted by | Crime, Religion, SBC

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