The story that follows is a perfect example of why people should, by default, be skeptical when a pastor comes to town to start a new church. If a man is going to an established church, the church can request a criminal background check. However, when the same man starts a new church, no background check is needed. It’s his church, his business, and people just have to trust that he is what he claims to be. In the case of Rudolph Walls, pastor of Friendly Chapel in Dillon, South Carolina, trusting the pastor means having a registered sex offender and a convicted child molester as your pastor. Released from prison in the 1990’s, Walls eventually became a pastor, ending up at Friendly Chapel in Dillion. Proving that a leopard can’t change his spots, Walls was arrested again for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
WMBF News reports:
A pastor and registered sex offender was arrested Thursday morning in Dillon County for criminal sexual conduct involving two victims under the age of 16, according to officials.
Rudolph Walls, 64, is facing two counts of criminal sexual conduct, third degree, after several people came forward to file complaints…
….Walls is being held at the Dillon County Detention Center, and he may appear in municipal court Friday morning for a bond hearing. Officials at the detention center confirmed Walls is a chaplain, but could not specify where he is employed.
A resident in the area confirmed that Walls is a pastor at the Friendly Chapel on Main Street in the city of Dillon.
Rudolph Walls is listed as a registered sex offender in the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. He was convicted of indecent liberty with a minor in 1989, and was released in 1997.
Not only was Walls convicted in North Carolina in 1989 for indecent liberty with a minor, he is also currently a chaplain for the Dillon police department. The good pastor had the complete trust of the church and the police.
In a 2014 news release for an upcoming women’s conference, Walls is listed as BISHOP Rudolph Walls, Sr. Friendly Chapel is an unaffiliated store front church, so exactly what was Walls bishop of?
Walls is currently charged with “criminal sexual conduct involving two victims under the age of 16.” The victims, both boys, were members of Friendly Chapel. A relative of one of the boys stated that the boy trusted Walls, and Walls was considered a role model for the boy.
This story is a poignant reminder of why I tell parents they shouldn’t let their children out of their sight while at church. According to news reports, the sexual assaults took place at the church. Call me a cynic, but I simply no longer trust people who say they are working for God. Unless they have been vetted and thoroughly investigated, I would NEVER allow them to have private, personal access to children or teenagers. Sadly, in Walls’ case, since he started the church, there was no way to find out if he was who and what he claimed to be.
Perhaps it is time for pastors to be required to submit to annual state and federal background checks.The same should be required of anyone in the church who has contact with children or teenagers. A database could be compiled that would allow prospective church members and law enforcement to search for any previous criminal arrests and/or convictions. This should be a nationwide database so someone like Walls can’t move from one state to the next to avoid detection.
It should be clear to all that we can no longer trust churches or the clergy with our children. Every day I read another new report of a pastor, priest, elder, or deacon sexually molesting or preying on church children. Day after day, the reports pile up in my email inbox. From the Catholic church sex scandal to Rudolph Walls to Jack Schaap, predators who call themselves men of God prey on church children. While Christians will likely say that these predators are outliers, the proverbial bad apple, I am convinced that apple barrel has far more bad apples than Christians are willing to admit. The Bible says that judgment must begin at the house of God. It’s time for sects, churches, and individual church members to clean up their own backyard. Instead of raging against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, premarital sex, and adultery, how about making a serious effort to address sexual abuse in the church.
Friendly Chapel is located in Dillon, South Carolina. Walls is a registered sex offender in Chadbourn, North Carolina. These two communities are 40 miles apart.
Walls’ address in the North Carolina Registered Sex Offender Database is listed as 226 Old Stake Rd in Chadbourn, North Carolina. Based on Google Earth, this is the address for the parking lot of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Chadbourn. Jerry Ganus is the pastor of the church. I found no website for Mt. Zion. I did find numerous funeral notices that listed Ganus as the officiant. I have no idea if there is any connection between Mt. Zion Baptist Church/Jerry Ganus and Rudolph Walls. My gut tells me there is. In the comment section, a commenter stated that Walls’ mother is a member of Mt. Zion.
According to another commenter, there is a road that runs through the church parking lot and Walls lived (lives) in a house on this road.
UPDATE, December 3, 2015:
…Police charged 64-year-old pastor Rudolph Walls in May with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree against two children under the age of 16.
Walls had previously insisted he was not guilty of any crime — but this week he pled guilty to criminal sexual conduct with a minor and failure to register as a sex offender.
Judge Markley Dennis sentenced him to 15 years behind bars. The sentence is the maximum allowed under the law.
“Obviously, we agree with and are appreciative of the court’s imposing the maximum sentence,” prosecutor Shipp Daniel said. “This is a terrible case perpetrated by a man whose position as a pastor makes it that much more heinous. Unfortunately, 15 years is all he could get.”…