August 29, 2003
(Jonesboro-AP) -- A former youth volunteer at Mount Zion Baptist Church and Christian Academy has been charged with aggravated child molestation.
Police say 30-year-old Richard Mark Dickens of Fairburn has been charged with aggravated child molestation. A preliminary hearing for Dickens, who police say was arrested Tuesday and has been in jail since, is scheduled for September 4th.
Dickens has denied the alleged abuse, which police say began in the summer of 1998. The 20-year-old victim, who says the molestation began when he was 15, told police he reported the incidents because he could no longer deal with the mental stress. The victim told police that some of the alleged abuse occurred at the church.
During the investigation, two other men made additional claims of molestation. They were 15 at the time of the alleged abuse but police say the 7-year statute of limitations has expired and those cases can not be pursued.
Reverend Chris Reynolds, the church's senior pastor, says the church is cooperating fully with the police investigation.
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