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In July 2019, Todd Spain, Jr, a youth pastor at Crossroads Church in Pelham, New Hampshire, was accused of coaxing his wife to ledge while they were out hiking and hitting her over the head with a rock. Allegedly, the couple had been arguing over Spain’s admission of an affair.
Pelham resident Todd Spain Jr., 26, was indicted in Carroll County Superior Court last month for second-degree assault, according to a court clerk. He is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence simple assault, the clerk said.
A probable cause affidavit written by Carroll County Sheriff’s Detective Brian King says the assault took place Saturday, July 6.
King said in his report that Spain’s wife, Molly Spain, called police for help from the Boulder Loop Trail in Albany, New Hampshire, at about 3 p.m. She told police that she would be running down the mountain to meet emergency responders.
“She stated that she and Todd got into an argument after he admitted to having an affair,” King’s report states. “When she turned to leave the mountain, she was struck in the back of the head with a rock. She said that she fell to the ground, and that Todd fell on top of her.”
According to the affidavit, “She said that she had to kick and punch him to get him off of her. She suffered apparent minor injuries. She was transported to Memorial Hospital in Conway, New Hampshire.”
At the hospital, she told police she was “in fear of her life,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit states Spain kept insisting that his wife go with him to the edge of one of the cliffs along the trail.
According to the affidavit, the victim said, “I thought he was going to push me off the edge and kill me.”
She also told police Spain kept putting his arm around her neck and asking what she would do if he choked her, but he never actually did.
Spain’s suggestion to go on a hike was odd from the get-go, according to the affidavit.
“Todd is not active, and has never wanted to hike or do anything outside in the past,” King reported the wife saying.
The victim was granted an emergency restraining order, according to the document.
King wrote that Spain admitted to police that he hit his wife in the head with the rock and gave written and audio statements to that effect.
Spain’s father, Todd, Sr is the pastor of Crossroads Church. (Nepotism is common in Evangelical churches.) After his arrest, Todd, Jr. resigned or was fired from his position at the church. His father denies that there is any connection between his son’s alleged crime and employment termination.
Yesterday, the Eagle-Tribune reported:
Todd Spain Jr., a former youth minister at Crossroads Church indicted for assaulting his wife, avoided a jury trial scheduled to start last week as his attorney and a prosecutor explore settlement options.
Deputy Carroll County Attorney Steven Briden filed paperwork on Feb. 19, the day before trial was set to begin, to inform a judge that both parties would like to participate in a settlement conference.
Briden explained that settlement conferences are frequently “a useful tool in trying to find a resolution to a case without having to put everyone through the difficulties of a trial.”
Briden, Spain Jr. and his attorney Kirsten Wilson will meet with retired Judge Peter Fauver, who will evaluate the case and try to see if a plea resolution can be found without going to trial.
They are scheduled to meet March 4, according to court documents. If a decision is not made that day, a trial will begin soon after.
After Spain, Jr. was arrested, former leaders at Crossroads accused him of sending their daughter sexually explicit texts in 2013.
News of the arrest incited memories of a 2013 situation involving Spain Jr., who was 19 at the time, and a 14-year-old girl who regularly attended a Crossroads youth group.
According to Michele and Ken Woonton, the girl’s parents, their daughter received sexual text messages from Spain Jr. when she was a minor. She responded, they said, but quickly became uncomfortable and brought the messages to the attention of church staff.
The Woontons said they were told by Spain Sr. that his son’s behavior was the result of a pornography addiction. He was sent to a family member’s house in the South “to heal” for several weeks, the family recalls.
The couple said they were disturbed when Spain Jr. came home to Pelham and his dad, the pastor, had the idea to appoint his son to lead middle and high school-aged kids in the youth ministry.
The Woontons went to police about the text messages, they said, but were told no crime had been committed.
At the family’s request, police would have gone to talk to Spain Jr., they said. But the family declined.
Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark said there is no record of the call and there are no other complaints involving Spain Jr.
Two other couples in leadership positions at the time have confirmed the Woonton’s account of what happened six years ago, including how the Spain family kept it concealed from the general church population and went against all of their wishes to keep Spain Jr. away from kids.
Several attempts to contact the Spains or anyone at Crossroads Church have been unsuccessful.
“Our coming forward is about transparency,” Ken Woonton said. “This is not about a church. This is not about religion. It’s about leadership. There are going to be members of that congregation that want to defend it. But we want to empower them to question their leadership about whether they’re protecting their children.”
At the time of the February 2013 incident with his daughter, Ken Woonton was a church trustee. His family was involved at Crossroads since its inception in 2001.
“When Todd Jr. came home and his father approached my husband about making him a youth leader, that was the beginning of the end for us,” said Michelle Woonton. “It was insane.”
Spain, Jr graduated in 2011 from nearby Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His Facebook page lists him taking college classes at Boston Baptist College, Baptist Bible College, and Louisiana Baptist University — all Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institutions.
On September 11, 2019, Crossroads Church released the following statement:
There was an article in a local paper about a youth minister of this church. We cannot comment on the personal and legal issues involving Todd Spain Jr. and his wife. We can state that Todd Spain Jr. is no longer employed by the church for reasons other than the legal charges mentioned in the article. His employment ended on Monday July 8th. Unfortunately, we cannot provide details of confidential employment issues. Crossroads remains committed to providing spiritual guidance to all of its members and we pray for the wellness of those involved in this situation.
This is the first and last statement released by the church.