Harlan pastor charged with rape, sexual abuse, sodomy, other sex crimes

Facebook messages lead to his arrest

bestep@herald-leader.comMay 24, 2011 

Jeremy Dewayne Caraway

State police charged a Harlan County pastor with rape after the grandmother of a girl from the church saw email between the two that concerned her, according to a detective.

Jeremy Dewayne Caraway, 36, pastor of Loyall Church of God, was charged Sunday with two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of sodomy and two counts of first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor — illegal sex act, according to state police.

The Church of God International Office in Cleveland, Tenn., placed Caraway on administrative leave Monday, said Scot Carter, a church spokesman.

The girl whom Caraway is accused of raping is younger than 14, according to a news release.

The girl's grandparents are her guardians. The grandmother had set up an account to monitor messages the girl got on Facebook, state police detective Michael Cornett said.

The grandmother, whose name police did not release, called state police at 7:35 a.m. Sunday after seeing something that raised her suspicions.

After an initial investigation, police got a warrant and arrested Caraway at his home, taking him to jail about 7 p.m.

He remained in the Harlan County Detention Center on Monday in lieu of a $45,000 full-cash bond, according to the jail's Web site.

Caraway declined to talk with the Herald-Leader. However, he told WYMT-TV that while he understood how some of his contact with the girl could be misconstrued, he's had no sexual contact with her.

"I've never touched her except around an altar if we were praying for people," Caraway said in that interview.

Caraway has been a licensed Church of God minister for several years. He had pastored numerous churches in more than one state, according to the news release from state police.

Cornett said he would check with police in other places where Caraway has lived to see whether they'd received allegations about him.

Caraway was convicted of cocaine possession and robbery in Polk County, Fla., in the late 1990s, according to online court records. He was placed on probation; records show he was under supervision from July 1997 to March 2000, said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

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