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Saturday, February 09, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Church music director charged with rape

The 31-year-old music director of Bethel AME, a high-profile West Baltimore church, has been accused of rape and child abuse in a case involving a 13-year-old girl who is a member of the congregation, according to city police and church officials.

Timothy D. Price III was charged with second-degree rape, assault and child abuse, and multiple sex offense counts, city police said. Since his arrest Wednesday night, Price, who lives in Owings Mills, has been held on $1 million bail at Baltimore's Central Booking and Intake Center, electronic court records show.

Price and the girl had sex on three occasions in his car, off church property, between early November and January, police said. Twice the meetings occurred in a West Baltimore alley and once in the parking lot of Druid Hill Park, according to police charging documents.

The documents allege that one encounter occurred after Price obtained permission from the girl's mother to bring her home from church Bible study class. Police said the girl was 12 when the incidents occurred. Price confessed to having sex with the girl, according to police charging documents.

Bethel AME's congregation has more than 17,000 registered members. Many of those who come to services on Druid Hill Avenue in Upton commute from surrounding counties.

The church and its pastor, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, are known for their influence. A number of the city's top leaders, including Mayor Sheila Dixon and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, are Bethel members, former mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is Reid's stepbrother, and Sunday services are frequent stops for candidates for city and statewide office.

In an interview this morning, Reid called Price's arrest "a real shock."

He said his church had not received any prior written or verbal complaints about Price, whose full-time job was to lead the various musical programs at the church. He said the last time he saw Price was during services for Ash Wednesday, two days ago. Then, later in the day, he got a phone call from someone who said Price had been arrested.

"For everybody involved it is a great tragedy," Reid said. "He had a good reputation, as far as I was aware. ... The people loved him."

Reid said that Price was hired in 2006 after the church went through a national recruitment process for a new music director. He said Price's references were checked, and that he came from a church in Houston. He has a wife and at least one child, a 1-year-old daughter, Reid said.

"It's a very important and responsible position," Reid said. "He is in contact with all members of the church, because of the position he's in."

Related links:

File interview with Timothy D. Price III

Music Ministry Video