Volunteer Indicted in Child Molestation
Laurens Man Served As Volunteer Church Youth Worker during Incident
By Liz Fabian
Macon Telegraph [Georgia]
July 26, 2006
A 22-year-old Laurens County man who served as a volunteer church youth worker is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl he met at the church.
A Bibb County grand jury returned a four-count indictment Tuesday charging Matthew Garland Lee with two counts of aggravated child molestation, and one count each of statutory rape and child molestation.
Lee, an emergency medical technician with The Medical Center of Central Georgia, was volunteering at Vineville United Methodist Church when the alleged molestations took place between March 3 and April 29, according to a Macon police incident report.
The victim's mother confronted Lee after first learning he had sex with her 14-year-old daughter, but he begged her not to say anything, the report stated.
Believing Lee was a godly Christian man who said it would never happen again, the mother did not report him, the report stated.
However, the mother discovered in May that Lee had secretly taken her daughter to the church in late April and had sex with her there when the girl was supposed to be spending the night with friends, the report stated.
As a youth worker, Lee had a key to the church, the report stated.
A statement released by Vineville United Methodist through attorney Warren Plowden says that Lee was relieved of his duties with the youth program as soon as the complaint against Lee surfaced. The church directed him not to attempt to contact any of the youth of the church, according to the statement.
"We take any allegation of sexual misconduct extremely seriously," Marcus Tripp, senior pastor at Vineville was quoted in the statement. "Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated. As a church, we are committed to preventing it, now and in the future."
The church held an open meeting with parents and provided counselors for the youth, according to the statement.
"Our entire church shares the pain and grief now being felt by the families touched by this
situation," Tripp said in the statement. "Our prayers go out to everyone involved. Counseling and support are being offered as appropriate. We pray that God will bring comfort and healing to all."
When asked whether the church performed a background check on Lee, Plowden did not respond but said the church has a policy in place.
Although Lee had a prior record, that information would not have been disclosed in a criminal background check because Lee pleaded guilty under the first offender act, law enforcement officers said.
Feb. 13, 2003, in Laurens County, Lee was charged with sexual exploitation of a child and child molestation, according to the police report. A little more than a year later, Lee pleaded guilty in that case under the first offender act to distributing obscene material, the report stated.
After he served his 12 months probation and paid a $300 fine, Lee's record was erased, according to the Laurens County Superior Court clerk's office.
Because Lee had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, he was not a registered sex offender.
The officer who investigated Lee's 2003 case in Laurens County was out of town Tuesday, said Sgt. Gerald Frazier, who investigates cases for the Department of Family and Children Services. Attempts to reach Lee for comment Tuesday were not successful.
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones, who worked with Lee at the Medical Center, said he was shocked to learn of the charges.
"When I was told of the incidents he was accused of, I was floored," Jones said. "I had seen his communications skills with visitors and patients. It really floored me."
To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.