The music minister of the First Southern Baptist Church of Phoenix has resigned after being arrested last week in connection with a misdemeanor sex crime.
Phoenix police arrested Gordon Christopher, 59, about 5:45 p.m. on March 9, and sought prosecution on a charge of "public sexual indecency -- sexual contact," records show.
We're still trying to dig up details on this one. The Phoenix city court wasn't able to provide details, and Phoenix police told New Times today that the incident report cannot be released until the case detective gives the okay.
Here's what we can tell you:
New Times called the church at 3100 West Camelback Road last Wednesday and broke the bad news -- no one there had heard about the arrest.
David Daffern, pastor of the 88-year-old church, later called us back with the following strongly worded statement:
We learned early Wednesday afternoon that Gordon Christopher, our Minister of Music, had been arrested on Tuesday the 9th. We learned this information only because a reporter called the church office seeking a "comment."
We were and are shocked and devastated by the news of this incident. We had no prior knowledge or indicators of this or similar behavior. The church conducts annual background checks on all employees, as well as all volunteers who work with children.
After learning of the news, I quickly convened a meeting with several of our key leaders and Mr. Christopher was placed on administrative leave.
Mr. Christopher was released from jail Wednesday afternoon and contacted me via telephone, and then came to see me personally. Late Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Christopher resigned his position as Minister of Music, effective immediately.
Although he is no longer employed by the church, we will do our very best to walk with him and his family through this personal and professional crisis.
Dr. David L. Daffern
This blurb about Christopher in the church Web site's "Meet Our Staff" section:
was deleted a few days ago.
Christopher, a Buckeye resident, could not be reached for comment.
Court records show that the sexual-indecency charge was dropped last week, but Christopher pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace. He was sentenced to one day in jail, with credit for the day he served, and 12 months of probation. His next court date is March 22.
Daffern did not want to elaborate on his discussion with Christopher, but he assured us the incident did not take place on church property or involve children.
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UPDATE: Click here for the latest information about Christopher's arrest.