ALBANY, GA (WALB) – A Coffee County pastor and former Christian school headmaster is in jail charged with child molestation.
Sheriff's investigators say 50-year-old Steven Rowe admitted he abused at least four victims while he led Faith Christian Academy and First Community Church in Douglas.
Car after car filed into the school's parking lot Tuesday night. Parents were called in to meet with school and church leaders about the child molestation charges filed against a man they trusted with their children.
"We've got people with a lot of questions. We've got families out there who are hurting that are involved in this and a church that is involved in this," said current FCA headmaster and interim First Community Church Pastor Ben Warren.
Less than a mile away from the church and school he helped establish nearly a decade ago, Rowe sits in the Coffee County Jail charged with 4 counts of child molestation and 2 counts of aggravated child molestation.
Warren, who took over headmaster duties three weeks ago, says the news of Rowe's arrest has shocked the entire community.
"I'm standing here tonight in a state of shock. I would have never figured this. And if you ask around the community here you'll find that no one ever really thought this," said Warren.
He says Rowe has not been affiliated with the church in more than a year and was teaching in Brunswick at the time of his arrest.
Investigators say the crimes were likely committed sometime between 2005 and 2008 and parents were asked to talk with their kids to find out if there could be more victims who haven't come forward.
"We want to be proactive and let them know we're not running from this. We're hitting it head on and we're going to deal with it," said Warren.
It was also meeting of reassurance to let parents know their kids are safe at the school and church that has been rocked by its former leader accused of betraying a congregation and abusing the most innocent victims.
Coffee County sheriff's investigators wouldn't go into detail about the case so we don't know whether all the victims were students at the school or whether they are boys or girls.
The sheriff's office did release a statement asking parents of children between the ages of 12 and 15 who had contact with Steven Rowe between 2005 and 2008 to speak with their kids about possible inappropriate contact.