3rd man pleads not guilty to sexual battery charges connected to North Jacksonville church

Booking photo of Jerome Teschendorf (Provided by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former member of a North Jacksonville church appeared Thursday for arraignment on two counts of capital sexual battery on a child, and his lawyer entered a not guilty plea.

Jerome Teschendorf, 68, is the third defendant from the Assembly of the Body of Christ Church on Old Kings Road.

Like Paul Dyal and Vernon Williamson, who are also facing two counts each of capital sexual battery on a child, Teschendorf was advised that he faces life in prison if convicted as charged.

Teschendorf’s next court date is June 22.

On Wednesday, a judge denied a request for bond for Dyal, 78, pastor of the Jacksonville Assembly of the Body of Christ. Dyal was arrested in March after a coordinated police raid on the North Jacksonville church. He pleaded not guilty in April.

While investigators were making the arrest of Dyal, additional warrants were being served in Oklahoma. Teschendorf, who was arrested in Newalla, Oklahoma, and Williamson, who was arrested in Ardmore, Oklahoma, have both now been extradited to Jacksonville.

Williamson, 85, who is also affiliated with Dyal’s church, also pleaded not guilty this month.

According to police, the investigation into Dyal goes back more than 20 years and includes evidence for offenses they believe happened in the early 90s.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office got a tip about possible sexual abuse at the church in September 2020.

“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.