Former North Carolina church volunteer arrested on abuse charges

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) – A former volunteer at Hickory Grove Baptist Church (HGBC) was arrested last month on abuse charges. Jeffery Thomas Riesenberg, 50, was charged May 9 with two counts of sexual abuse.

Riesenberg’s daughter told church officials in April that her father had abused her, according to Religion News Service.

“Administration officials immediately reported this disclosure to Child Protective Services, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police were dispatched to begin an investigation,” HGBC Pastor Clint Pressley said in a letter to the church on May 9, the day Riesenberg was arrested.

Church officials said they are working to care for the family.

“While these alleged criminal acts did not occur at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, HGCS or in Mecklenburg County, we are notifying you because Riesenberg previously volunteered in our Harris Campus Student Ministry from 2011-2021 and Recreation Ministry from 2014-2017,” Pressley told church members. “We are further notifying families of children who may have interacted with Riesenberg in these ministries.”

Pressley told the church all allegations of child abuse “are immediately reported to appropriate law enforcement and child protection authorities, regardless of the passage of time.”

The pastor’s letter also said the church would offer sexual abuse prevention training and told church members how to sign up for it.

Pressley was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on June 12.

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