Fayette County

'Rubbing the feet of men and youth.' Minister's former Lexington church launches inquiry.

Associated Press

A Lexington church has launched an independent investigation after allegations of abuse have come out about a former minister at the church.

Brad Waller worked at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church as a minister for youth and college-age people between 1995 and 2006, according to an open letter released by Robert H. Cunningham, the church's current senior pastor.

After leaving Lexington, Waller worked at a Presbyterian church in St. Louis before moving to Savannah, Ga., where he eventually became senior pastor at Grace Church of the Islands, according to Cunningham's letter. Earlier this year, a student at a college in Savannah came forward saying an encounter with Waller had left him "very uncomfortable," according to the letter.

Cunningham's letter states that at an April meeting of the Savannah River Presbytery, the governing body for local churches in the area, Waller reportedly made the following statement: “I, Brad Waller, confess to the sin of abuse of authority in my role as a pastor. I have been rubbing the feet of men and youth in my care. There was a sexual element to this, however, physically it never went past foot-rubbing.”

After sending an email to the Tates Creek Presbyterian Church's congregation, the staff began receiving calls, emails and messages from people who shared stories of abuse while Waller was at the church, according to Cunningham's letter. The church said in the open letter that they've confirmed 10 stories brought forward by victims.

In the letter, the Cunningham addressed the victims, the community and the church.

To the community at large, he wrote the following:

"To our city, I’m sorry this happened at our church. While this took place over a decade ago, this is still our past and our institutional sin to own. And so we own it. Our vision statement is 'We exist for the glory of Christ and the good of the Bluegrass,' and sexual abuse is the very antitheses of that vision. It dishonors Christ and is horrible for the Bluegrass, and so we ask your forgiveness. We also pledge to make every effort to prevent this from happening again at TCPC."

Tates Creek Presbyterian Church has contracted with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to conduct an independent investigation of the church.

The church has spoken with police about the situation, and police are currently not investigating, according to Cunningham's letter. The letter also states that, should police decide to investigate after further information surfaces, the church will cooperate.

Cunningham's full letter was posted on the Tates Creek Presbyterian Church website.

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