The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Artie Sturm, pastor of DaySpring Baptist Church (no web presence) in Newport, Tennessee, was arrested last week and charged with using his position of trust to rape a church teenager. DaySpring Baptist is affiliated with the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. Sturm was released after the judge reduced his bail from $150,000 to $50,000.
The indictment said the victim was less than 18 years old, but at least 13 at the time of the incidents.
Sturm was reportedly a pastor at DaySpring Baptist Church at the time, according to the Newport Daily Times.
In the arrest report, the victim said her preacher had been sexually assaulting her since around December 2014 and that Sturm asked her for sexual favors when they were alone together on several occasions.
Sturm had previously been arrested for solicitation of a person under the age of 18 for making contact with the victim and sending her inappropriate photos with his cell phone, according to the arrest report.
According to Cocke County County records, Sturm pleaded guilty to three counts of statutory rape. As of this date, I have found no report on Sturm’s sentencing.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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