(Photo: Sumner County Sheriff's Office)
A Tennessee woman who allegedly stole more than $160,000 from a Methodist church faces her first court appearance on Friday.
Crystal Dycus, 30, accepted the position as treasurer at Douglass Chapel United Methodist Church in Gallatin, Tenn., two years ago, and had access to the church's bank accounts, credit card and certificates of deposit (CDs). Dycus is accused of spending church funds on gas, tanning bed visits, ATM withdraws, restaurants and personal bills.
Dycus was arrested last Thursday (Valentine's Day), and was charged with theft of property of more than $60,000 and money laundering. She is accused of stealing $30,000 in cash and $130,000 in CDs from Douglass Chapel UMC, according to Sumner County Sheriff Sonny Weatherford.
Marsha Davis, who previously served as the church's treasurer for 14 years, said she first discovered that something was wrong with the church's accounts after she received a phone call from the bank in November, because the accounts were overdrawn.
When Davis confronted Dycus about the church accounts, she told her there was a mistake. But after David gathered three months of information from bank statements, she called police.
"It's just pretty upsetting and discouraging that someone would do this when they're looking at you every Sunday morning knowing they're stealing our money," said Davis to WSMV. "It was being treated as free money to spend, basically. She had the church credit card, and she just went to town. Even her wedding was paid for with the church credit card."
Davis also said there was no reason not to trust Dycus, because she and her family are members of the church, which has an average Sunday attendance of 30 people. "We feel like we're family, a small country church," she said.
"I have been aware for some time of the circumstances regarding Douglass Chapel," said Nashville Area Episcopal Office Resident Bishop McAlilly, in a statement to The Christian Post. "The matter has been turned over to the proper authorities and we'll allow the legal process to unfold."
McAlilly also said that the church, which has been serving the residents of Gallatin since 1836, does not risk closure. "The future of Douglass Chapel UMC is stable," he said.
Dycus was released last week on a $7,500 bond from the Sumner County Jail.
The Christian Post contacted the Douglass Chapel United Methodist Church office for comment, but a response was not received at the time of publication.