JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 56-year-old former choir director arrested over the weekend after authorities said he confessed to having sex with a child was charged with a similar crime several years ago while he worked for the church.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, a young girl contacted police Saturday, saying Charles Brown took her into his bedroom, inappropriately touched her and sexually abused her.
About an hour later, police said, Brown willing went to the police station and confessed to having had sex with the girl. He was arrested on charges of capital sexual battery charge and showing of obscene material to minors.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Brown was a choir director at Murray Hill United Methodist Church on College Street several years ago, and taught students ranging from teenagers to adults.
Investigators said it does not appear he had unsupervised direct contact with the youth programs at the time, but he was active in church functions.
Court records show Brown was previously arrested in March 2008 on a charge of unlawful intercourse with a minor, but that case was dropped within a month after the girl told police the sex was consensual.
Police have not said if either that charge or the new case involved a child at the church, but investigators did say there could be more victims.
The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church released a statement Tuesday about Brown's arrest:
Our former director of music, Charles Brown, was arrested this week for sexual battery on a minor and sale, distribution or showing of obscene material to minors. He worked at Murray Hill UMC from 2006–2010.
Murray Hill considers nothing more sacred than the safety, protection and care of our children. We have had a comprehensive Child and Youth Protection policy in place since 2005, which we diligently follow.
We pray that healing and love for all involved will bring the grace and power of God into this situation, and that we as the family of God may continue to fulfill His purpose for us."
Rheta Voss told News4Jax she was a member of the choir that Brown led. She said hearing the nature of his arrest is upsetting, but added that he never supervised children.
“I’m terribly shocked and surprised about all these allegations," Voss said. "The only position that he held here at my church was adult choir director."
Brown's neighbor, Cheryl Workman, said she was shocked to learn of his arrest.
"I'm totally upset about it. I would be with anybody, but especially with it being right next door to me," Workman said. "It just tears me up. It hurts. It really does."
Workman said she hopes the young girl will be OK.
Brown is being held in the Duval County jail on $200,000 bond.
Anyone who believes they have been victimized by Brown or is aware of someone they believe has been victimized is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500.
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