JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A Jacksonville pastor accused of more than 30 years of sexual abuse pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to two counts of sexual battery on a child.
Paul Dyal, 78, pastor of the Jacksonville Assembly of the Body of Christ on Old Kings Road North, was arrested in March after a coordinated police raid on the church.
When he appeared before a judge last month, Dyal was ordered to be held without bond. The judge stated then that Dyal could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
Dyal will be in court again on April 18.
RELATED: Pastor of Jacksonville church arrested in raid 1 of 3 charged with capital sexual battery | Warning signs when it comes to child sexual abuse | JSO: Sexual and physical abuse of minors at a North Jacksonville church started 30 years ago | Alleged victims of Jacksonville church sex assaults meet with media | ‘It became our normal’: 8 women say they endured mental, physical abuse from Jacksonville church leaders | Woman says she was abused numerous times by pastor, arrest warrant states | Attorneys hope to hear from more witnesses in church sex abuse case | Woman told pastor, JSO about alleged sexual abuse by church member more than 10 years ago: warrant | ‘It should never happen’: Women who say they survived abuse at Jacksonville church return to campus
Police say the investigation into Dyal goes back more than 20 years and includes evidence for crimes they believe happened in the early 90s.
JSO got a tip about possible sexual abuse at the church in September 2020.
While investigators were making the arrest of Dyal, additional warrants were being served in Oklahoma. Jerome Teschendorf, 68, who was arrested in Newalla, Oklahoma, and Vernon Williamson, 85, who was arrested in Ardmore, Oklahoma, have both now been extradited to Jacksonville.
Teschendorf and Williamson are also affiliated with Dyal’s church and are also facing two counts each of sexual battery on a child. They have not yet been arraigned.
“The investigation revealed both long-term sexual and physical abuse of minors in the church spanning a period of over thirty years,” the Sheriff’s Office said in its news release in March.
The Sheriff’s Office believes there could be more than a dozen victims.
JSO said that through the course of the investigation, the police “have identified and spoken to numerous victims and witnesses.” As a result, the Sheriff’s Office said, police believe there are additional suspects. It asked that anyone who believes they might have information to share to come forward by calling JSO or submitting an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida.
Eight women have since shared their stories with News4JAX, saying they are survivors of mental, physical and emotional abuse from people at the Jacksonville Assembly of the Body of Christ Church.