A 14-year-old boy was raped after officials at a Kentucky church hired a registered violent sex offender for their new pastor. Officials admitted to knowing the pastor’s background but said, “God forgave him and we are obligated to do the same.” Pastor Roy Neal Yoakem was arrested and charged with sexual battery by an authority figure, aggravated statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure and fugitive from justice. Yoakem was hired as pastor of New Gospel Outreach Church in Scottsville, Kentucky after the previous pastor’s arrest.
According to an affidavit of complaint, the Gallatin police were first notified on June 18 by the Allen County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky after the teenager told detectives about the sexual contact. Allegedly, the 46-year-old pastor sexually assaulted the boy on two occasions in June 2014. The assaults occurred at Yoakem’s Gallatin residence on Edgewood Drive and inside the New Gospel Outreach Church.
Yoakem was convicted in Kentucky of second degree sexual abuse of an 8-year-old boy. He was convicted in Kentucky but was not registered in Tennessee as a violent sex offender. According to Bill Storment, Spokesman for Gallatin Police Department, if a convicted sex offender has a secondary address or spends a certain amount of time in the state they must register there. Although the pastor’s primary residence is in Kentucky, the Gallatin residence is considered his secondary address and as such he was required to register in both locations.
Before Yoakem was extradited to Summer County he had been incarcerated in Kentucky where he also faces charges. Currently, it is unknown if there are additional victims, if so additional charges could be forthcoming, according to Storment who said,
We are not aware of any additional victims at this time, but because of his position of authority in a church certainly if someone becomes aware or suspicious that their child might be a victim, then we need to talk to them.
Interim Pastor of New Gospel Outreach Church, Stephen Bratcher said although they knew Yoakem was a registered sex offender when they hired him, he was shocked to hear of the allegations. According to Bratcher, the church had concluded that the previous allegations of sexual assault were false. The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and Kentucky State Police were contacted about the legality. The troopers at the Boiling Green post said they contacted the sex offenders branch and were told there is nothing illegal about it. The interim pastor added,
We were not in a position to judge anyone. We are firm believers if the Bible, so if God has forgiven you, then we are in no position to treat you otherwise.
The pastor had been involved with the church for six years but will no longer be preaching there after being arrested on multiple charges. Detective Chad Keen of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department said, He is a predator and does not need to be on the street; I am glad we got him.”
Bratcher said the church is getting information at the same time the community is, so they are still in the early stages of processing all they are hearing. Yoakem was a faithful and dedicated pastor who worked hard with no salary, according to the interim pastor, and they are praying for him, about the situation and for all parties involved. He added,
With these kinds of things happen, it does cause others to look negatively at the church. We ask the community not to view the church or its members negatively.
Keen said the young victim’s mother, who attends the church, contacted police when her 14-year-old son’s behavior changed. During this time she also found graphic messages along with photos from the pastor on her son’s phone. His mother told the detective,
They were along the lines of really, really affectionate. There was some emotion in them. He was calling him a liar and telling him he didn’t have any feelings for him anymore.
Sadly, this is not the first run-in with the law a pastor from New Gospel Outreach Church has faced. Billy Owen Minix, the previous pastor, was accused of embezzling $300,000 from the church. At that time the church’s membership dropped drastically as the news of the pastor rocked the congregation.
Yoakem was appointed interim pastor immediately following Minix’s unethical behavior. When speaking of that pastor’s arrest Yoakem said the members were more heartbroken than anything else. The church consisted of mainly elderly people who could not believe that he would do something like this. He added,
A pastor’s position is a position of trust. We told him we forgave him Biblically because that is what the Bible teaches, but the law has to take its part, too.
The words of Yoakem, who at the time was interim pastor, still ring true for that church today. The law is now “taking its part” on another person the church elected as pastor.
After New Gospel Outreach Church officials hired a registered violent sex offender as their new pastor he turned around and raped a 14-year-old member of his congregation. Officials knew Roy Neal Yoakem’s background but said “God forgave him and so do we.” Yoakem was held in Sumner County Jail on $250,000 bond and charged with sexual battery by an authority figure, aggravated statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure and fugitive from justice. He has a wife and 14-year-old son of his own.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)