MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A Mount Holly pastor is behind bars after he was accused of sexually assaulting children at church.
61-year-old Jerry Friday made his first court appearance by video Thursday afternoon in Gaston County. Friday, who is a pastor at New Providence Baptist Church in Mount Holly is accused of several sexual acts with three girls that attended his church.
“Masturbating in their presence, displaying and showing pornography and ultimately at least one digital penetration,” the prosecutor said in court. “That's where the statutory sex offense comes about.”
The prosecution says the victims range in age from 13 to 17, and the most recent sex crime happened back in September.
According to prosecutors, the alleged incidents happened either at the church, the pastor's home or the victim's home.
Long time church members like Timothy Reid are having a hard time processing the news.
“It’s just shocking to me to hear that the pastor would be accused of that,’ Reid said.
For Bre Boatwright, it's even more personal. She grew up going to the church and says she looked at Pastor Friday as family
“He was like my godfather. He always supported me. That’s why it hurts to hear this. I'm not even going to lie because he was somebody I looked up to growing up not having a father figure around,” Boatwright said.
Her message to pastor Friday: Be the man you preach about.
“I would say honestly, God don’t like ugly. At the end of the day you’re a pastor and you get up there and preach every day and try to tell people to do right and if you’re not doing right, things are going to start to fall apart,” said Boatwright.