Pastor says suspect not a youth leader
Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2008
By KEVIN CHIRI
Editor and Publisher
RESERVE — The pastor of a Reserve church said that a young man recently charged with molestation was not a leader in their church youth group, as had been previously reported.
Christopher Davis, 19, of 2401 Yorktowne Dr. in LaPlace, was arrested last week and charged with indecent behavior, and five counts of molestation of a juvenile, allegedly involving a 13-year-old boy who attended the Reserve Christian Church youth group.
The church was linked to the event since Davis reportedly picked the young man up in his car, and took him to and from the church youth group. St. John sheriff’s reports indicate the molestation took place going to and from the youth group meetings.
Even though the Sheriff’s Office investigator said that both victim and suspect called Davis a “leader in the youth group,” which is how it was reported to the media, the pastor of Reserve Christian Church said Davis was never appointed to any official leadership position.
“That’s simply not true, he was only a church member,” Pastor Stephen Aguillard said. “As for the victim and suspect saying that, I believe it probably happened since Chris was one of the older kids in the youth group and hung out with the older college age group.”
St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones said that his investigators can only release the information they obtain in their interviews, and stands by the report as issued by Public Information Officer Mike Tregre.
Aguillard said he was first informed of the pending arrest on Monday, Nov. 10, and was expecting the Sheriff’s Office to contact him during that week. But then he was surprised when he got an early morning call on Friday, Nov. 14 saying the arrest was in the newspaper, and Davis had been called a “worker” at the church.
“That led people to believe he was an employee here, and then they called him a youth leader also. Neither of those things is true and I was unhappy that the Sheriff’s Office never called me all week to give me a chance to give my side of that story,” Aguillard said.
However Jones said Aguillard was not contacted since investigators were focusing on the crime at hand, and seeking other evidence for charges.
“The investigators were doing what they thought was the right thing to do when it came to who they talked to,” Jones said. “And I’m not going to get in the middle of an investigation. We have no obligation to contact anyone in particular that the investigators do not contact. It is not my place to impede an investigation in that way.”
Aguillard said that the youth group saw a drop in attendance of about 30 percent immediately after the news was made public, but at this point he wants to focus on what he says is a lot of good his youth leaders and members have done.
“I just hope people will remember that we have had a reputation for integrity for 40 years here,” he said. “That should stand for itself.
“Our youth group leadership all goes through background checks if they are going to work with young people or children,” he said. “We have always done that. As for what we could have done to stopped this from happening, I don’t see how anyone can prevent this kind of thing if someone is doing it on their own. And I am not talking about Chris. He is innocent until proven guilty.”
Aguillard said that the Reserve Christian Church youth group continues to minister to approximately 400 students each week, which involves going to many public school lunch clubs that are started by students, as well as their own church functions.
The youth group on Wednesday night at the church is currently running around 120 students, from age 6 to 21, which is broken into two groups—a children’s network from age 6 to 12, and a youth group from age 13 to 21.
“We have always felt like our youth group is doing a lot of great things for the young people in this community, and it’s probably one of the best kept secrets in the region,” he added. “I know all of our youth leaders and they truly have a heart for the youth of this community. So I guess I just want people to know that they don’t have to be afraid to let their kids be involved here. Fear can be a terrible thing to people when something like this happens.”
Aguillard added that he is not passing judgment on Davis in this case, and simply wants justice to be done.
“We will be on the side of justice,” he said. “If anyone does something wrong, we will not hide or cover anything up. We are still here, cooperating with any aspect of the investigation and still have a good working relationship with Sheriff Jones and the St. John Sheriff’s Office. I just wish I had been contacted that week so we could have gotten the correct information out when the news media got this. I think we were done a disservice.”
Sheriff’s Office investigators were led to the arrest after the 13-year-old’s mother opened an e-mail message addressed to her son that included a picture of a naked man. Her son, whose name was not released to protect the family, later identified the man as Davis. The mother immediately reported it to the Sheriff’s Office.
Davis was booked that day and released on bond.