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Monday, December 19, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor is charged with sexually abusing teenager


He is the second leader at Redemption Christian Fellowship in Woodlawn to be charged in a month

By Nick Shields

For the second time in a month, a leader at a church in the Woodlawn area of Baltimore County has been charged with sexually abusing a teenager.
Gary Warren Warfield, described in court records as a deacon at Redemption Christian Fellowship, has been charged with sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy at the church. Last month, Gerald Fitroy Griffith, a pastor at the church, was charged with sexually abusing that boy and two other teenagers during counseling sessions.

An attorney for Warfield said yesterday that Warfield denies the allegations. A lawyer who represents Griffith said that many in the congregation stand behind the pastor.

According to charging documents filed Wednesday in District Court, a 17-year-old boy told a social worker last month that Warfield, 44, of the first block of Fallridge Court in Gwynn Oak, touched him improperly starting when he was 14. The boy said the last incident occurred in September, according to the court records. He said that he told Warfield to stop and that Warfield replied, "It's not like that. I'm just showing you my love," court papers say.

The boy told the social worker that the incidents happened at the nondenominational Redemption Christian Fellowship, in the 6500 block of Dogwood Road, and in a church van on the way to a store, according to the documents.

Warfield is charged with sexual abuse of a minor, second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense. In an interview with police Dec. 6., Warfield, with an attorney present, denied touching the boy inappropriately, charging documents show.

"He adamantly denies that he ever did anything that in any way was inappropriate to any member of the church community," said Joe Murtha, an attorney representing Warfield. "He denies the allegations and will stay committed to the community of the church."

Griffith was charged last month with multiple counts of child abuse and sexual abuse of a minor and with several other sex offenses.

A teenage former parishioner told police that Griffith told her he would be her father figure because she did not have one, court records show. The girl said that Griffith, while providing counseling in his office this year, touched her sexually and told her that they should be closer, the charging document states. He is charged with sexually abusing the girl and with sexually abusing two teenage boys.

Griffith, 39, of Bowie, who has traveled internationally with his ministry, was arrested Nov. 15 while waiting to board a previously booked flight to London at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

David B. Irwin, an attorney representing Griffith, said the congregation raised the money for Griffith's release on $600,000 bond to ensure that he could continue to preach as the abuse case works its way through the court system.

"There are a lot of parishioners who think he is the real deal," Irwin said yesterday. "There are a lot of people who are standing behind him and standing with him and who believe in him."

A Web site for Gerald Griffith Ministries referred to Griffith as "a modern-day apostle, called of God for these end times" and says that he has held "crusades" in Chicago, Canada, Nigeria, the West Indies, London and elsewhere. He is described on the Web site as senior pastor at Redemption Christian Fellowship.

Church officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. Warfield was released Wednesday after posting $50,000 bail, his attorney said.