Teacher arrested on sex charges had worked at 2nd Christian school

Parents of kids at Robert Browning's previous church school worry about contact

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The teacher accused of sexual assault of a student at a Christian school run by Cedar Creek Baptist Church had previously worked at a second Baptist church on Jacksonville's Westside, News4Jax learned Wednesday.

Robert Browning, 59, was arrested Saturday on charges of sexual battery, molestation and transmitting pornographic images to a girl under the age of 16. He was also fired by Cedar Creek's senior pastor as soon as he learned of the accusation.

"He was a very good teacher and you would never know," said Sally Blaney, whose children attend the Christian school run by Cedar Creek. "That person was old enough to know better and he should have never gone there."

After the story of Browning's arrest aired Tuesday, News4Jax received an anonymous tip that Browning had previously worked as a youth pastor at Old Plank Baptist Church and Christian Academy. The tipster, a mother of a child who attended youth services at Old Plank Road Baptist with Browning, was concerned that there could be other child victims who haven’t come forward.

Old Plank Baptist's worship leader, who is also the school's principal, reluctantly confirmed Browning had worked there, but had no other comment.

The mother who called described Browning as being overly friendly with children when he worked there six years ago.

"We're very concerned," she said. "I always had that guy feeling, 'Do I let her go on trips with the church?' He was just, I thought, a little too close to the kids."

She is worried there could be more victims than the one teenager he was accused of having sex with at Cedar Creek's school. She's even concerned he could have had inappropriate contact with her daughter.

“We’re going to have that conversation," the woman said. "It was really late last night and I even woke her up and tried to tell her about that. She was very groggy. But we’re going to have that conversation later today. I don’t look forward to it, but I've got to know.  It’s my responsibility as a parent.” 

This mother isn’t the only one coming forward with information about Browning’s previous employment at Plank Baptist. Other parents have also reached out to News4Jax with similar concerns. Another mother said she's also urging parents to talk with their children to make sure they're not victims.

"We, as parents, are to protect and be vigilant for out children," she said. 

School officials with Cedar Creek said they were told by Browning that he was that let go from Old Plank Baptist because of a dispute with faculty.

Browning had a clean record before his arrest Saturday. Cedar Creek officials said they conducted extensive background checks on Browning before he was hired, and he passed with no problems.

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