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Christian School Teacher, Pastors Arrested in Denver Child Sex Assault Case

Woman's Father and Uncle Accused of Covering Up Affair With Teen Student

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By Nicola Menzie, Christian Post Reporter
November 21, 2011|2:47 pm

In what appears to be a failed scheme to cover up a teacher's affair with a teen student, officials in Delaware have arrested the teacher, her father, her uncle and a former principal who all worked at a Christian high school. Two of the men arrested and charged also serve at a local Baptist church.

According to the grand jury indictment obtained by ABC News 7, Terah Allyn Rawlings, a teacher at Hilltop Baptist School in Colorado Springs, Colo., was charged with eight counts of sexual assault on a child for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy in 2007 and 2008.

Rawlings was arrested Wednesday, Nov. 16 and posted a $25,000 bond, reports CBS Denver.

The grand jury indictment claims Rawlings and the boy had sex on several occasions, including at in the teacher's vehicle in an apartment parking lot, at the woman's home and also at her father's home. On at least one occasion, two of the boy's friends were present, according to the indictment.

Other witnesses, including concerned teachers, students and church members, also testified that they had either seen photos, text messages and emails alluding to an affair between the boy and Rawlings.

Some teachers and students made complaints about the alleged sexual relationship to top officials at the school. However, investigators allege, allegations of a teacher-student affair were never reported to law enforcement officials.

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Also arrested in the investigation were Franklin "Wayne" Knight, the senior pastor at Hilltop Baptist Church and the former superintendent of Hilltop Baptist School. Knight, 63, is also Rawling's uncle. Officials say Knight failed to report child abuse or neglect and was an accessory to a crime.

Knight is accused of ignoring claims made on three separate occasions about the alleged sexual affair between his niece and the teen student. The senior pastor reportedly conducted an independent investigation, without informing authorities, and concluded that claims of a sexual affair were unfounded.

Members of Hilltop Baptist Church soon heard about the alleged affair and Knight reportedly told those who pressed him about it that their "relationship with the church will be damaged" if they persisted.

One of those who informed Knight of the allegation was Jan Ocvirk, the former principal of Hilltop Baptist School. Ocvirk, 51, was also arrested and charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect, according to ABC News 7.

Ocvirk was reportedly asked by a teacher to investigate the claims after that teacher learned from Rawlin's husband that a ball cap believed to belong to the 15-year-old boy was found under he and his wife's bed.

The indictment alleges that Ocvirk did nothing about the teacher's request for an investigation. The former principal also reportedly told other concerned teachers not to approach police about the alleged sexual affair between Rawlings and the boy.

Also charged in the case is Raymond "Allen" Knight, the associate pastor of Hilltop Baptist Church and former athletic director at the school. Knight, 57, is accused of failing to report child abuse or neglect in the case involving his daughter and the teen boy.

Students who had expressed their concerns to teachers about the alleged sexual relationship also told Knight, who did not inform police, according to the report.

One teacher who had become aware of the affair did inform law enforcement in 2010. That teacher and another teacher who had complained about the rumors were fired.

Hilltop Baptist School, is a private school that teaches students from kindergarten through grade 12. The school, which opened in 1979 and belongs to the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools (SBACS), located in Windermere, Fla.

Hilltop closed this year reportedly due to low enrollment.

The Christian Post was unable to speak with representatives of Hilltop Baptist Church and the SBACS.

nicola.menzie@christianpost.com
 

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