Brad Waller, a married father and senior pastor of the Grace Church of the Islands, PCA, in Savannah, Georgia, has left his church and several others in his congregation in shock after confessing to abusing multiple men and boys under his spiritual care with sexual foot massages, which prompted his swift removal from ministry by the denomination's leaders.
"Grace Church of the Islands placed Brad Waller, then the church's Senior Pastor, on leave when the governing Session learned of his inappropriate conduct. As Waller ultimately admitted, he abused his role as a Pastor, rubbing the feet of men and male youth in his care," Grace Church of the Islands said in a statement to WSAV.
"The Session asked for Waller's resignation. Waller is no longer the Pastor of Grace Church of the Islands, and he is no longer a minister in our denomination. Our congregation has been grieving. We have experienced shock, denial, pain, guilt and anger. In Christian hope, our goal now is to heal our church. We want to better understand what happened, who was harmed, and how we can help."
Prior to joining Grace Church of the Islands, Waller served as a director for youth and college ministries from 1995 to 2006 at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He also served briefly at Twin Oaks Presbyterian church in St. Louis, before moving to Savannah, where he initially served as an assistant pastor at Independent Presbyterian Church before he was elevated to the post of senior pastor at Grace Church of the Islands.
In an extended statement on Waller and the victims of his foot fetish, Rev. Robert Cunningham, senior pastor of the Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, said the deposed preacher's abuse was exposed by a student at Savannah College of Arts and Design earlier this year. The student informed his campus minister of an experience he had with Waller that left him "feeling very uncomfortable."
The campus minister then contacted the Savannah River Presbytery, which governs local churches, and opened and investigation which resulted in a meeting of the Presbytery on April 17. It was at this meeting that Waller confessed that he had a foot fetish which is having sexual interest in the feet.
"I, Brad Waller, confess to the sin of abuse of authority in my role as a pastor. I have been rubbing the feet of men and youth in my care. There was a sexual element to this, however, physically it never went past foot-rubbing," Waller reportedly confessed, according to Cunningham.
The Presbytery immediately voted to remove him from office and strip him of his preaching credentials.
Cunningham said since Waller also had a long history at his church he started an investigation among is flock and learned that multiple victims of Waller's foot rubbing were also identified.
"There have been multiple unconfirmed stories and allegations that have come to us secondhand, as well as stories from victims that we have not been granted permission to share; that being said, if we only count the number of confirmed stories at this point that have come directly from a victim and that we've been given permission to share, that count is now at 10," Cunningham said.
"The most consistent and common stories were of Brad rubbing the feet of high school and college students (all male) during private counseling and mentoring sessions. This happened too frequently to count, with one victim telling us he can't remember meeting with him without Brad rubbing his feet. However, evidence is also beginning to emerge that conflicts with Brad's statement that 'it never went past foot rubbing,'" he added.
Grace Church of the Islands filed a police report with Chatham County Police in mid-April, according to WSAV. It identifies three victims of Waller's touching, including Charlie Turner, an associate pastor at Grace Church, and Turner's 12-year-old son.
Two of those victims said they felt "sexually assaulted" by Waller's massages.