- (Photo: Sumter Police Department)
Larry Durant, 58, is charged with the sexual assault of three female church members. The minister at Word International Ministries in South Carolina has a criminal record, and many now wonder how Durant was allowed to hold a position of power.
Durant allegedly used his position to get close to his victims, two of whom are between the ages of 11 and 14. He told the victims that the sexual acts were part of the "healing process" and "private prayer," detectives told WLTX News. Court documents added that Durant said he was preventing them from "contracting sexual diseases or becoming pregnant early."
"The manner in which he lured them in, we feel that at some level there's a strong potential that there may be other victims. We're talking about a span of, right now, over two years," Deputy Chief Alvin Holston told WLTX. "It appeared that he may have had a routine of gaining the trust and the private company of some of the juveniles."
Durant is currently free on $120,000 bond but stands accused of two counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, one count of third degree criminal sexual activity, and forgery. One of the victim's family members alerted police to the situation after having a conversation with the teen. Police then began looking into Durant's background and discovered an entire criminal history that left them wondering how he managed to hold a position of power.
Records show that Durant was arrested for distributing marijuana, selling alcohol to a minor, burglary, and grand larceny. South Carolina does not require churches to perform background checks on potential ministers. It is unclear whether Durant will remain at World International Ministries following his arrest.
Police ask that anyone with information about Durant come forward.
"We want to make sure there's no more victims out there," Holston said. "We're really hoping that by airing this that there will be a perfect opportunity for someone to take a minute, to think about some occasions or situations that may have seemed odd and asked questions of their children just to see if everything is OK."
Watch a report on Durant HERE: