Scott B. Sechrist, 61, a former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Morrisville in Pennsylvania, who killed himself Monday a week before he was to stand trial for molesting an underage girl more than 20 years ago, reportedly abandoned his old church and wife for a relationship with a member of his congregation.
Marty Salzmann, a current member and secretary of the First Baptist congregation where Sechrist was senior pastor for about three years and where she has served for more than 30 years, says that's what she was told by insiders of the 100-member congregation.
While she was unable to say exactly when he stopped pastoring the church, she recalls Sechrist disappearing some time in the late-1980s to early 1990s. She was told he informed the church that he had left by telephone.
"Well he left the church because he ran off with one of the ladies. He was still married to his wife and he had an affair with one of the ladies at the church. Eventually they decided they were gonna go together and stay together and he left the church," said Salzmann in an interview with The Christian Post Wednesday. "Of course we couldn't have a pastor that was behaving like that."
The only thing she recalled of the woman he ran off with was that "she used to play the piano."
A Levittown Now report says Sechrist killed himself inside his Red Cedar, Levittown home Monday and left a suicide note proclaiming his innocence of allegations that he had molested a now 34-year-old woman starting when she was 12. The molestation was first reported in 1992, but the woman recanted the allegations that same year.
Salzmann, who has also served as the church's choir director and organist, told CP that she was "dumbfounded" by Sechrist's suicide, because he was a "jovial" person who never struck her as someone who would do something like that when she last saw him more than 20 years ago.
"He was very nice. I didn't find any fault with him. I worked with him. I'm dumbfounded by the whole thing," said Salzmann. Then again, she said, "you have to remember I have not seen or had any contact with the man for 25 years."
Salzmann said Sechrist's wife, Kelly, also left the church shortly after that at the time of his disappearance, adding, "I haven't heard from her since." The couple had a son.
"I guess his guilt (over his life in general) did him in. Being a Christian myself I can imagine how that could get to you," said Salzmann, trying to make sense of his suicide.
When asked if the church was grieving Salzmann said: "Yes."
"In a manner of speaking, yes. It's always a sad thing to see something like this happen. The whole thing was sad. To see somebody, a preacher, a man of God, go like that. It's a shame."