South Jersey Deacon Accused Of Molesting Boys At Church Sleepover

Associated Press/November 2, 2004

Camden, NJ -- A church deacon who allegedly molested two young boys during a sleepover at the church this weekend has also admitted fondling other children, authorities said.

Lawrence Johnson Jr., 29, of Camden, was charged with sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and child endangerment after being arrested Friday and was being held at the Camden County Jail on $100,000 bail.

County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi said Johnson was serving as a chaperone at the New Mickle Baptist Church event -- which was aimed at keeping children off the streets on mischief night -- when he fondled the boys, ages 10 and 12, inside the church.

The boys told church staff members what happened, Sarubbi said, and Johnson confessed after the Rev. Melvin N. Allen, the church's pastor, confronted him with the allegations. Allen then called police.

"We used to point to him as a model person. This isn't someone we were questioning or that the parents were questioning," Allen said, adding that 16 children attended the sleepover and that Johnson was one of several adults who were supervising the event.

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