Former Kilgore pastor indicted in Ohio sex abuse case

The Kilgore News Herald, Ohio/September 21, 2010

A sex abuse scandal involving an Ohio clergyman has a Kilgore connection.

Charles W. Savage, II, 66, formerly a staffer at Pinecrest Baptist Church some two decades ago, was recently indicted on two third-degree felony counts of sexually abusing a youth at Freedom Baptist Temple in Xenia, Ohio.

The alleged abuse took place on recreational outings that began when the youth was in his early teens, and reportedly took place from 1990 to 1996.

The Xenia resident was the church's founding pastor.

According to an article in the Xenia Gazette, he took the teen on "non-church sanctioned" hunting and fishing trips Savage took with friends and members of his congregation, Adams County Prosecuting Attorney Aaron Haslam said.

Savage was the pastor at Freedom Baptist Temple from its inception in 1989 until late December of 2009, when the alleged victim came forward.

Savage, who was married with three children, didn't appear to bear the signs of a potential child abuser at the time he made inroads with the Weaver family, said David Weaver, father of the reported victim.

"We let our son go with him. His family had a cabin in southern Ohio. We had no red flags whatsoever.

"He started when he was about 13 or 14 and it lasted about six years," he said in an interview with the Kilgore News Herald.

The episodes had a traumatic effect on his son in the long term, Weaver said.

"It has affected his life so drastically," he said.

"He was very confused. He thought there was a relationship there. Once he had children of his own, he realized what was being done was wrong," he said.

"He's 34 now, and he wouldn't want that done to his children."

The victim came forward in December 2009 - reluctantly so after someone overheard him talking about his traumatic experience, his father said.

"He was very hesitant about doing it," he said.

The accused Savage was reportedly the former assistant pastor and principal at Pinecrest Baptist Church in Kilgore. The elder Weaver contacted the Kilgore News Herald in the hope that any others who may have suffered as victims could realize they're not alone.

"I thought there might be someone else who has been struggling with that from down in that area. This information may help if there were any victims in Kilgore," Weaver said.

"Because it took my son so long to bring this out, there may be someone down in that area who's in the same prison cell as my son … there may be someone who is helped by my doing this. If that happened to my son, it could have happened to someone else," he said.

"I really think if someone had this happen to them like my son, they just need someone to prompt them out - once someone has broken the ice," he said.

"I just felt like at least it should be presented, so that someone would have the opportunity to come forward if they want to."

Weaver said his family walks a fine line between forgiveness and judgment in the case of the man they believe molested their son.

"Even if he doesn't admit it, by God we need to still forgive him, whether the person ever changes or not. But he has to face the consequences of his actions - we're not saying ‘Don't do anything to him.' That's between him and God," he said.

"I want the truth to come out, that's the first thing, because my son kept it in for so long. Whatever the law applies, that's fine with me. The main thing is that the truth comes out and my son can go on with his life," he said.

The pain of having a church official accused of a heinous crime is deeply felt in a religion where the founder warned of the consequences on those who would harm children.

Better, Jesus said in Luke 17:2, if a millstone be hung around the abuser's neck and drowned.

The jury is still out on Savage, who has not been convicted in a court of law.

On a Linked-In profile belonging to a Rev. Charles Savage II of Freedom Baptist Temple, a man appearing to be the same Savage is cited as graduating from Baptist Bible College.

At Freedom Baptist Temple, church official Carl Schmidt told the Xenia Gazette that Savage resigned during the first service after the victim confronted him and that he no longer serves in any official capacity at the church.

"The church lost several members because of the allegations and it really put a damper on people," Schmidt added. "It just upset a lot of people. A lot of people had a lot invested in the pastor."

He also pointed out that Savage has not been convicted of any crime.

"We hope people will understand any one person doesn't make or break a church," Schmidt added.

Dr. Darrel Martin is pastor at Pinecrest Baptist Church in Kilgore. Martin, who has worked in the past with authorities and organizations that help families coping with the aftermath of abuse, said he wants the public to know that Savage is not connected with Pinecrest.

However, if there were any problems in the distant past when Savage was at the Kilgore church and school, people should come forward, Martin said.

"If anyone has been offended by this man, (they should) contact the newspaper or the police," he said.

Having made his initial outcry, the younger Weaver, now a man in his mid-thirties, is scheduled to make an Oct. 1 court appearance in Adams County, Ohio.

"(My son) will need all the support that he can get," the elder Weaver said.

David Weaver said his son has done well, considering the circumstances.

"I was told that many (former victims) would have committed suicide by this point," he said.

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