- (Photo: Clinton Police Department, files/Langworthy)
Shockwaves hit a small town in Mississippi hard this week after a well-known church minister of music was arrested after making a public confession about molesting young boys more than two decades ago.
Clinton police detectives, along with Jackson police, charged John Langworthy, 49, this week with seven counts of gratifications of lust.
In a strange twist, Langworthy confessed his 20-year-old crimes to his Morrison Heights congregation in August. The confession was reportedly kept secret within the walls of the church until just recently.
Langworthy told the congregation of the Morrison Heights Baptist Church that 22 years ago, he committed "sexual indiscretions" with teenage boys in Texas and Mississippi.
He resigned from his job as an associate minister of music at the church in May. He worked in the music ministry with Morrison Heights for 21 years. Authorities told The Christian Post that Langworthy had resigned citing “mental and emotional reasons."
Langworthy said he committed the sexual crimes against young boys in the early 1980s while serving as the minister of music at Prestonwood Baptist, which is a megachurch in Texas.
“I was not asked to resign by the pastors or the elders,” Langworthy said in a video, taped in August, which shows him confessing to his Mississippi congregation about his crimes in Texas. "These decisions were ungodly, and I deeply regret them."
Prestonwood Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch, now stands accused of covering up the case. It has been reported in the Baptist Press that church leaders fired Langworthy and told him to leave town but did not report him to the police as required by a Texas law enacted in 1971.
The ex-minister’s confession video has gone viral after being posted on the blog site named, Stop Baptist Predators.com.
Advocates against sexual predators say no charges were filed in Texas against Langworthy and he might have publicly confessed his crimes because of the work of victim's rights groups that publicized the allegations.
Prosecutors say the case is still ongoing, but they have discovered there are five cases that reportedly happened in Jackson and another two in Clinton.
Local media reports say at least two of the cases happened inside a dorm room at Mississippi College.
Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Jamie McBride told the Clarion Ledger that an investigation shows Langworthy was “involved heavily with the youth choirs from 1980 to 1984 at First Baptist Church of Jackson and Daniel Memorial Baptist Church in Jackson.
Investigators told reporters that Langworthy “befriended the victims' families by spending time with them during the holidays.”
He allegedly was babysitting the boys when the molestation occurred.
County prosecutors told The Christian Post the Clinton charges involve five boys between the ages of 10 and 13 between 1980 and 1984.
Authorities also say while Langworthy was on the church staff in Jackson, he sexually abused boys between the ages of 10 and 12 between the same time period.
Church members told local newspapers that the victims and their families were “active in church.” The reports also say Langworthy taught at Clinton High School.
The ex-minister and former high school choir teacher, who is married with two children, faces up to 10 years in prison for each count.
Police told The Christian Post that Langworthy posted a $200,000 bond in Clinton. He was in the process of being transported to Jackson for those charges late Wednesday.
Just when police thought the case could not get any stranger, they discovered that Clinton School District Superintendent Phil Burchfield issued a statement last month saying he knew about accusations against Langworthy.
“I had no evidence, other than allegations, that the conduct had actually taken place, and the employee never admitted to the district that the conduct happened.”
“We hope that any church officials who knew of or suspected Langworthy’s crimes, but kept silent, face criminal charges as well,” David Clohessy, who is the national director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a press release.
Police say although some of the crimes are nearly two decades old, they hope that courageous victims will come forward and not remain silent.
Jeff Rimes, Langworthy’s attorney, could not be reached by The Christian Post before press time.
To comment on this story email R. Leigh Coleman at leigh.coleman@ christianpost.com.