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Black Collar Crime: IFB Evangelist Benjamin Garlick Accused of Child Rape, Wife Charged Too


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.

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist Benjamin Garlick stands accused of five counts of Aggravated Rape of a Child, five counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Minor who was under the age of 13, one count of Soliciting Sexual Exploitation of a Minor who was under the age of 13, and one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child. Garlick’s wife, Shaantal, was also charged with one count of Facilitation of Aggravated Rape of a Child and one count of Aggravated Child Abuse / Endangerment to a child age 8 and younger.

WGNS reports:

An evangelist who calls the Blackman area home is facing a slew of charges that revolve around the rape of a child. Benjamin Garlick was taken into custody under a sealed indictment that was handed down by a Rutherford County Grand Jury.

According to court documents, Garlick was charged with 5-counts of Aggravated Rape of a Child, 5-counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Minor who was under the age of 13, 1-count of Soliciting Sexual Exploitation of a Minor who was under the age of 13, and 1-count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child.

Prior to Garlick’s arrest, he led church services in Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Arkansas, just to name a few. The suspect spoke Spanish fluently and frequented Spanish speaking congregations, events and organizations. Over the past few years, Garlick amassed thousands of views on YouTube and Facebook as a guest pastor, speaking at a variety of churches both large and small throughout the country.

The 32-year-old child rape suspect is currently behind bars in the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center in Murfreesboro. Garlick is being held under a $750-thousand-dollar bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The suspect was taken into custody this past Tuesday on September 12, 2023, which was the same day that his wife Shaantal Garlick was arrested.

The courts show that Shaantal Garlick is facing 1-count of Facilitation of Aggravated Rape of a Child and 1-count of Aggravated Child Abuse / Endangerment to a child age 8 and younger.

Shaantal Garlick, who is free after posting a $75-thousand bond, was in court just one month prior to her arrest. Mrs. Garlick filed for an Order of Protection against Benjamin Garlick last month on August 14, 2023. The order was filed in the Rutherford County Chancery Court under the Honorable Howard W. Wilson.

MPD Public Information Officer Larry Flowers told WGNS News on Tuesday the detective over the investigation says the Garlick case remains active and is ongoing. The crimes that Mr. Garlick is accused of committing date back to February of 2021, but again, the investigation is ongoing.

The Messenger adds:

Police told WKRN they don’t know how many total victims there are, where they occurred or how Benjamin Garlick knew them. Police say the rapes allegedly happened on Feb. 13, 2021, and that the case is still under investigation.

The pastor was indicted Sept. 12 and booked into the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center, where he still remains. His was booked into jail and released on a $75,000 bond two days later.

One pastor in Murfreesboro told WKRN that he has known Garlick since he was a child, and called him a father with a “role model” family.

The preacher with the “perfect” family with the “perfect” wife, yet both of them are charged with sex crimes. Hmm . . .

benjamin garlick

The Roys Report adds:

According to multiple reports, the couple has ministered as itinerant Christian evangelists with their six children. In recent years, the Garlicks have led church services in multiple states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and their home state of Tennessee. 

Authorities arrested Benjamin Garlick on Sept. 12 at his residence in Blackman, a suburb of Murfreesboro. Garlick remains in custody at Rutherford County Adult Detention Center on a $750,000 bond. 

Shaantal Garlick was also arrested on Sept 12. She bonded out on Sept. 15, paying $75,000 in fees. The charges against both Garlicks stem from actions that were alleged to have occurred on Feb. 13, 2021. 

The Garlicks have been supported in their itinerant ministry by First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, a flagship church of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement. As of publication time, the couple was still listed on the church’s website as church-supported missionaries.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I’m a pacifist, so I oppose capital punishment on principle. That said, pedophiles are prone to re-offend. Those convicted of serious sex crimes should be locked up without the possibility of parole. They need help and treatment, but must not be permitted to re-offend.

      • Avatar
        John S.

        Sentencing Garlick to life in prison would be a very effective punishment. He would most likely be classified as “PC” due to his crime and notoriety. Thus he would spend the remainder of his life experiencing a small amount of the everyday fear and anxiety his victims got to experience. His kind are not well regarded in a men’s prison, and I can only imagine what prison in Tennessee is like, with their nice hot summers. That said while I do not support the death penalty, I am not necessarily opposed to some degree of additional reasonable but harsh punishment for adults convicted of certain wanton crimes such as these. Maybe something a little more than watching tv in a cell and sweeping the floor for a few hours a day. Not sure what that would be (not burning at he stake or drawing and quartering). I’m still trying to have a kind heart but a reasoned mind, I guess.

        • Avatar
          MJ Lisbeth

          John and Bruce—I agree with both of you. I, too, oppose capital punishment on principle. I am not, however, opposed to seeing someone suffer after thoughtlessly or deliberately traumatizing someone, especially a child. And John, you are right about the social hierarchy in prison: People who victimize children are at the bottom. One irony—or form of poetic justice, depending on your point of view—is that those who go to prison for sexual offenses against children sometimes are done to by other prisoners as they did to their child victims..

          (Fulll disclosure: I was one of those sexually abused children—at the hands of a priest—so I can’t talk about such things dispassionately.)

          • Avatar
            John S.

            Thank you MJ. I had to deal with persons who had committed these types of offenses several years ago in my profession . Add to that my own singular incident of attempted sexual abuse when I was around 7 years old by an older boy (this was in the late 1970s- I said “no” and told my parents, who told the principal. Nothing really happened other than they told him to stay away from me). Yes, many had been victimized themselves as children. Like alot of other conundrums in our criminal justice system, it is difficult to discern the right balance between justice and fairness. My first thought is always that their victim(s) got neither, from the perpetrator and many times from the criminal justice system as well.
            I tend to look at sex offenses on a spectrum- was the person in a position of authority? What were the circumstances of the offending behavior? What will be the long term impact on the victim(s)? A priest or Pastor abusing a child is IMO the worst level of offense. An 18 year old boy with a 15 year old girlfriend is still technically a felony, but often there are not nearly the same aggravating factors present. However, there are cases where the 18-19 year old male is a youth group leader, and the 15 year old victim did not totally consent to the sexual conduct.
            I am very sorry for what happened to you. Please accept my wishes for recovery from the trauma of the abuse you suffered. I apologize if my words are not the best way to express what I wish to convey.

  1. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    I have a question for IFB- era everywhere : how come your churches don’t teach against the CRIME ( child abuse and molesting are illegal in all 50 states) of targeting children with such acts, be it at home or in public settings like churches and schools ?? What part of ” this is is illegal and a punishable crime” do you people not get ?! There’s just NO existing excuse under Heaven for these incidents ! Even Jesus warns against ” offending little ones,that it’s better to have a millstone hung around your neck and thrown into the sea” to paraphrase that verse in the Gospel. So, if you believe in this Gospel SO much, why violate that warning with nary a thought of the consequences ? I’m throwing down a challenge to all Fundies who visit this blog- how do YOU plead, when it comes to this challenge to justify these crimes against minors ? I dare you to come forward, to either justify the deeds done, or VOW to end such crimes in your churches and congregations, each one of them. Go for it !

  2. Avatar

    Having grown up in Tennessee with family still living there, I can tell you that this story has blown up all over the news. A lot of the comments on the stories are about how you’re more likely to find child sex offenders in churches than at drag shows. Accurate.

    What kind of sick f&ck does these things to children????

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Bruce Gerencser