Jarrett Booker, a father, husband and pastor of student ministry and worship at Nashua Baptist Church in New Hampshire, left his family, friends and church community with a double dose of shock and grief after he died by suicide two days after being fired for allegedly sexually abusing minors. He was 37.
Booker's death was announced by the elders and deacons of Nashua Baptist Church in a statement on Nov. 29.
"Regrettably, on the evening of November 27, Jarrett Booker took his own life, refusing to face the consequences of his actions. This event added immeasurably to the complexity and pain of the situation," the elders and deacons said.
"Nashua Baptist Church unequivocally condemns all forms of abuse. It is evil and God hates it. We are committed to transparency and to supporting the healing process for victims. We have been, and will continue to, fully cooperate with law enforcement in this investigation, and had encouraged Jarrett to do the same."
On Nov. 22, church officials say they became aware of a criminal investigation into Booker due to "concerning credible allegations of sexual abuse against minors."
"These allegations prompted an internal review which revealed further evidence of misconduct. Regardless of the outcome of any criminal investigation, this behavior undeniably violated the moral and ethical standards we expect of our leaders and did not uphold the standards of our faith. Consequently we made the decision to immediately terminate Jarrett's employment effective November 25, 2023," the church's statement reads.
"We communicated this decision and the existence of the investigation to our congregation on November 26. At that time, we refrained from detailing the allegations to maintain the integrity of the ongoing legal process. We assured our church that we would share all pertinent information as soon as feasible, which we did on November 29," the statement added.
"Our hearts are heavy for the victims, Jarrett's family, and our congregation, many of whom knew and respected him for years. We are dedicated to supporting everyone affected by Jarrett's inexcusable actions, both within our church and beyond. We ask for your prayers as we navigate this devastating situation."
Sgt. John Cinelli, the public information officer and communications division supervisor for the Nashua Police Department, confirmed with Patch.com that Booker was being investigated for child sex offenses.
"We learned of the alleged crimes through an investigation by another police department," he said. "The investigation is still ongoing even though the suspect is deceased."
Booker, employed by the church for nearly a decade, worked "specifically with teenagers" and was "responsible for leading our musical worship each week," according to the church's website.
The late pastor's obituary said Booker was adopted when he was 18 months old and left behind his parents, wife, son and other family members.
"If you have any information relevant to this case or to other cases, please contact the Nashua Police Department at (603) 589-6132 or the Hollis Police Department at (603) 465-7637," the church urged. "We also request that you inform our church leadership if you feel comfortable doing so. This way we can leverage whatever resources are available to us for those who need help."
A funeral service was held last Saturday at a local funeral home.