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Church volunteer faces child sex charges

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — A 40-year-old church volunteer had sexual contact with several teenage boys he met through a youth ministry, offering some money for sex acts or to keep quiet, police said.

Marshal Seymour was jailed Sunday on charges of using a child in sexual performance, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and tampering with evidence. Bond was set at $325,000.

Lakeland police said Seymour was convicted in the late 1990s of misdemeanor battery in Mobile while working as a youth pastor at the Parkway Assembly of God. Sgt. Gary Gross said Seymour was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy. He was convicted of battery, but a sodomy charge was dropped. Gross said Seymour got a year probation after a 1-year jail sentence was suspended.

Seymour moved to Lakeland in 1999 and began volunteering at the First Baptist Church at the Mall, police said. A church background check reportedly did not show the battery conviction.

Seymour is married. His family’s listed telephone number was not working Sunday. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

The first victim to come forward said he met Seymour through the church and worked for him at a business he owned. Police said Seymour acknowledged having sexual encounters during the past year with the teen.

Some victims said Seymour paid them for sex, and some said he paid them hush money.

Church pastor Jay Dennis said Seymour was a popular parishioner whom he never suspected of inappropriate behavior.

“We are troubled, devastated and shocked by the details of what we have learned,” Dennis said. “What has happened here is every pastor’s worst nightmare.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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