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Thursday, February 22, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor arrested for online soliciting of 14-year-old girl

Neighbors and friends of Camden pastor Kevin Ogle, who is charged with sending pornographic messages and pictures via the Internet to a police officer posing as a teenage girl, said they were shocked by the arrest of a “very loving, kind, caring individual.”

“You could’ve taken a gun and shot me in the heart, and it would’ve had the same effect,” said Mike Clifton, chairman of the deacon committee at Northgate Colonial Baptist Church.

“He is just like a brother. He loves his church, and he loves his family.”

The 42-year-old pastor waived his rights Wednesday to stay in Kershaw County and will be transferred to Walton County, Ga. Sheriff Steve McCaskill said Ogle will be sent either today or Friday to Loganville, Ga., where he will have a bail hearing.

Ogle was arrested Tuesday and charged with 11 counts of sexual exploitation of children. Authorities say he chatted with and transmitted pornographic depictions of himself online to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

According to authorities, Ogle was actually communicating with an undercover officer from the Loganville Police Department’s On-Line Predator Unit, which has been investigating Ogle for three months.

Ogle is being held at the county’s detention center.

The pastor grew up in Lugoff, graduated from Lugoff-Elgin High School and attended Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville, N.C., Clifton said.

Ogle, who is married with two sons, adores his wife, Clifton said.

And he is a good father, said neighbor Pam Barker, tears in her eyes.

“He’s very involved with his children — he’s always playing football outside with his boys,” she said. “He’s a great neighbor and is always willing to help.”

Barker said if Ogle is found guilty, she will not condone his actions, but will forgive him.

“He loves his family,” she said. “He and his family are hurting bad, and we need to support them.”

After an emergency meeting Tuesday night, Ogle’s church resolved to unify its members and not let the situation destroy the 106-member congregation, Clifton said.

“This congregation has an opportunity to become a stronger congregation and come together and really seek God’s help for healing if they can forgive the pastor if he is guilty,” said Otis Scott Jr., pastor at Camden First United Methodist Church. “This can split the congregation.”

Ogle’s situation is a personal, human tragedy, said Bill Drees, director of missions for the Kershaw Baptist Association.

Drees had lunch with Ogle last week and visited him at the detention center Wednesday.

“This is why this is such a total shock to everyone — he grew up around this community, and it’s something no one expected,” Drees said.

“Northgate is a good church, and those are good folks in that church.

“We’re a small town, and this is just not the norm.”