Former Tennessee church intern who had sex with underage student arrested and charged with statutory rape

Former Tennessee church intern who had sex with underage student arrested and charged with statutory rape

A Tennessee man has been arrested by the police for the statutory rape of an underage student. The accused, Benjamin Widwirck, was an intern at the Long Hollow Baptist Church and has been charged with three counts of statutory rape, according to a report by News Channel 5.

The 24-year-old Widwirck was working as an intern with the church for the summer. He was serving with a team of students for a 10-week period. The pastor, Robby Gallaty, revealed that he had heard rumors about Wirdwirck as early as December and acted by contacting both police authorities and senior members of the church.

Gallaty posted his comments on their website. He wrote, "As we grieve for the victim, we are also deeply saddened that an event like this took place, especially with a student who was entrusted to our care. As with all our employees, every intern we hire must pass a strict background check and interview process before they can serve with our church family. It sickens me that our processes and safeguards didn't prevent this from happening. Long Hollow is a place where we take moral integrity and accountability seriously, and nowhere is that more crucial than on our staff. We're doing our best to uncover how this relationship developed and will do everything in our power to keep this from ever taking place again."

Talking about the timeline, Gallaty said: "The timeline is fuzzy (and details are still coming together), but the abuse appears to have taken place last summer during the former intern's 10-week service period with our student team at the Gallatin Campus."

The name and the age of the student have not been released but according to the authorities, Benjamin would be charged with three counts of statutory rape. The church has said that they would now be restricting interns from befriending students even on social media to try and curb such incidents. The church said that they have "developed a comprehensive Child Protection Policy which includes an extra layer of safeguards, accountability, and training." The church has also updated its training process and the transportation policies after this incident.

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