A West Virginia pastor has been accused of sexually abusing and assaulting his 7-year-old niece.
Gary Adkins, 52, has been charged with "two counts of third-degree sexual assault (felony), and one count of sexual abuse (misdemeanor) by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust of a child," according to West Virginia State Police Senior Trooper C.A. Allen, according to The Floyd County Times.
Until several months ago, Adkins had been a minister at Parsley Bottom Freewill Baptist Church. He had also worked as a youth leader there.
Adkin's niece reported to her mother that she had been sexually abused by her uncle in the summer of 2012, said the arresting officer. In the reports, which were filed with Child Protective Services, earlier in 2013, the elementary-school student told her mother that her uncle made her "play with his belly button" and "it was nasty." She also informed her mother that she had been forced to put her hands down her uncle's pants.
The victim's mother had first suspected that something had happened to her daughter after the girl had displayed a fearful reticence about visiting her uncle and refused to touch objects with which she believed her uncle had been in contact. The victim had also allegedly asked her mother repeatedly if she was "nasty on the inside and out."
Another family member who is currently 28 has since come forward to accuse Adkins of touching her inappropriately when she was between the ages of seven to 10.
In the midst of these allegations, there are still some at the church who see this behavior as inconsistent with the Adkins they know. Jacqueline Parsley, who attended the same church as the former minister, defended him.
"That's just not in his character," sad Parsley. "If the family will just be careful and be patient, the truth will come out, guilty or not."