Thursday, November 23, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Minister already on sex offender registry faces new charges

Tyrone Moore appears on South Carolina's sex offender registry.

On Sundays, he also appears behind the pulpit at a nondenominational North Charleston church.

Police on Tuesday arrested the senior pastor at Full Word Ministries on a new charge of second- degree criminal sexual conduct.

An arrest warrant affidavit accuses Moore, 39, of performing sex acts on a male parishioner in 2002 and 2003, when the parishioner was 17 years old. Moore's past criminal record includes a 1989 conviction for committing a lewd act on a child under 16 and a 1991 conviction for criminal sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 11 and 14, according to State Law Enforcement Division records.

During a bond hearing Wednesday, much of the discussion centered around whether Moore would be able to return to preach.

"I think the state would be imposing on his religion if he's not allowed to come to his church," said attorney George Counts, who represented Moore during the hearing. "It's a church that he founded."

A victims advocate for North Charleston police, Lisa Bullard, countered by asking, "If he's allowed to return, what message does that send to the victim?"

"I really believe he is sick," the accuser said of Moore during the hearing. "He has done this before and I believe he'll do it again."

Charleston County Magistrate Patricia Baldwin set several conditions on Moore's $200,000 bail.

If he gets out of jail, he is not to be in the company of any children, including his own children, without another adult present. The judge barred him from any contact with the man who said he was abused.

This presented a dilemma. The accuser said he wanted to continue going to the church. Baldwin made him choose which of the two Sunday-morning services he would like to attend, and said Moore can only go to the other service.

The pastor's expression remained calm throughout the hearing, and he answered the judge's questions politely.

The attorney portrayed him as a family man with strong local ties and a dedication to his flock. Married, Moore has four children ages 4 to 16, Counts said. His wife and a woman identified as a family friend also attended.

"He's not a threat to the community," Counts said. "He's been here his entire life."

The victims advocate argued that Moore has been deceptive because he has two different addresses. The sex-offender registry lists one on Realm Street in North Charleston, yet an arrest warrant lists an address on Applebee Court in Goose Creek.

Counts said that he was only handling the bond hearing. Attorneys Carl Grant and Eduardo Curry will be taking over Moore's defense.

Full Word Ministries occupies a brick building at the corner of Gordon Street and Peacock Avenue in the Waylyn neighborhood. It sits directly across the street from the Garrett Academy of Technology.

North Charleston police arrested Moore at his church Tuesday. Their investigation began after the man who claimed to have suffered abuse spoke to a detective in January. Later, he mailed a letter to police detailing allegations of what was happening at the church.