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Thursday, January 26, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor jailed in child sexual-abuse case

Floyd Blackwell is accused of failing to report allegations that a man sexually abused three girls.

A longtime Newport News (VA) pastor was arrested and held without bond Wednesday on charges that he failed to report allegations that a man he knew had sexually abused three young girls, and that he also discouraged another person from telling police.

The Rev. Floyd Blackwell, pastor of Miracle Temple Baptist Church on 32nd Street, turned himself in during the early afternoon, Officer Harold Eley said. Warrants had been issued for his arrest Tuesday. He was booked on three felony counts of obstruction. He also was booked on three misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, "because he was aware of the situation and didn't report it. He allowed the situation to continue," Eley said. Child Protective Services received an anonymous call on Nov. 30, claiming that a 19-year-old man had been sexually assaulting three girls, ages 7, 8 and 9, for the past three years, Eley said.

Officers investigated the report and arrested the man Jan. 14. He was booked on eight counts of sodomy, eight counts of taking indecent liberties with children and two counts of abduction.

The man is related to the victims, Eley said. The Daily Press is not publishing the man's name because doing so would reveal the identities of the alleged victims.

During their investigation, police learned that a relative of the victims had told Blackwell about the alleged abuse, Eley said. Blackwell reportedly told the person that he would "handle it" within the church and then discouraged that person from reporting it to police, Eley said.

Everyone, including Blackwell, has an obligation to tell authorities of information regarding suspected crimes, Eley said.

"There is an expectation that you would bring forth any information that you know about a crime or an alleged crime so that it can be investigated," he said.

News of Blackwell's arrest stunned members of his congregation and people who knew him. He is entering his 30th year leading the Miracle Temple congregation. Dorothy Rouse Bottom said she has attended Blackwell's church occasionally during the past 10 years. She praised him as a compelling and compassionate preacher who has dedicated himself to helping black youths, particularly young black men.

Blackwell's church "is a place where miracles do happen, and where the pastor is constantly trying to make a change among black men," she said. "And he has done so, and I'm sure he will continue to do so. He's really a hero and I'm really sad about this."