JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day after three men linked to a local church were arrested for child sexual abuse, News4JAX is learning more about the almost 20-year investigation.
A report from 2003 names pastor Paul Dyal, 78, specifically. The report details a person telling police they were molested after staying overnight at the pastor’s house.
Dyal’s house is on the property of his church, the Jacksonville Assembly of the Body of Christ.
The 78-year-old is in jail now, arrested Wednesday, charged with capital sexual assault and is a suspect in an investigation with multiple reports of sexual and physical abuse of minors at the church.
Former Sex Crimes Prosecutor Maryanne Sheils explains how difficult it is to prosecute cases like this.
“My assumption would be that they’ve been interviewed a number of people,” Sheils said. “And potentially witnesses that can corroborate what the victims have said about sequence of events. There could have been, you know, phone calls between alleged victims and the suspects that were recorded by law enforcement that could have helped to corroborate what has happened.”
Before his arrest Wednesday, Pastor Paul Dyal made a blog post.
He titled it ‘God Is’ and wrote about evil spirits being emissaries or messengers of God created by God to do evil, which are good for His divine purpose. He posted it just hours before JSO raided his church.
News4JAX asked former Sex Crimes Prosecutor, Rick Alexander, why a raid of the church was required. “The raid can corroborate victims’ stories,” Alexander said.
Alexander spoke to us about the tip in 2020 that JSO says led to the arrest and the over 30-years of reported victim abuse.
When asked why it took so long, Alexander said “It’s the nature of the abuse and the abuser and the power that they have? Over that small set of people? And it’s insidious, but it’s out there.”
Now, the former prosecutors tell News4JAX it’s about proving what witnesses and survivors say happened.
It could be a while before we see this go to trial.
News4JAX got at statement from attorney Cynthia Crawford who is representing survivors in this case.
My name is Cynthia Crawford and I represent multiple victims of the Jacksonville Assembly of the Body of Christ Church where Paul Dyal was a leader, Jerome Teschendorf and Vernon Williamson were members. Our clients provided information to law enforcement which revealed both long-term sexual and physical abuse of minors in the church spanning a period of over forty years. Many of the victims have been diminished, extorted and shut up. We rest easier now that their voices have been heard. We still need more information and are seeking more stories. My office can be reached at 904.422.4634. We will have a press conference on Monday where you will hear more from these brave victims.
JSO believes there are more victims or witness out there.