CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Instead of spending time at the church where he once was a volunteer youth leader, 45-year-old Jeffrey Clark now sits behind bars. Police said Clark inappropriately touched a little boy at his Chester home. Clark met the child through the church youth group, police said.
"In August we received a report of sexual battery of a minor, and Mr. Clark was identified as the offender by the victim," Sgt. Brad Connor, part of Chesterfield Police’s Special Victims Unit, confirmed.
"I was not shocked,” Debbie McCarter, the former Director of Youth at Immanuel Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, said.
She said similar allegations involving Clark, split the church five years ago.
"The situation years ago was awful and gut-wrenching, but no charges came about,” she said.
McCarter said she left the church in 2010, while Clark stayed on as a youth volunteer.
Even though Clark's title now includes the word “former,” another woman said Clark’s resignation had to have been recent, because her kids attend programs at Immanuel Baptist and Clark was there.
"It's alarming that no one in the church saw the red flag, because he has been there a long time," Kristen Holun said.
Police said they do not believe any sexual misconduct happened at the church.
Neighbors said they had seen a church van pull up to Clark's home and kids would jump out to help with yard work, but said they never saw anything inappropriate.
McCarter said she felt there was a lot of blame to be passed around.
"I feel so sorry for the child because there's no way another child should've suffered like this,” she said. “It should not have happened. It should've been nipped in the bud a few years ago."
David Hay, a friend of Clark’s, said via phone that people are condemning Clark in the court of public opinion when he has done nothing wrong.
Hay said as a youth leader Clark was never alone with a child and that that was one of his strict rules. Hay also said the only thing Clark was guilty of, was being a good guy.
Clark was booked in Chesterfield County Jail and is being held without bond.
While police said they do not know of any other victims, parents should contact them if they learn of something inappropriate involving their child.
Anyone with information was asked to call Chesterfield Police at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.