Pocomoke Youth Group Leader Faces Prison for Sex Abuse
Former Bayside Community Church youth group leader Rodney Harmon will face prison time after being convicted of sexually abusing several young boys who were under his supervision at the church. He could face up to 70 years, but the sentencing is currently deferred until the completion of a pre-sentencing investigation.
Court documents say that Harmon sexually abusing at least 7 teenage boys who he met through working as a youth group leader at Bayside Community Church in Pocomoke City. The offenses took place between January and July of 2018.
The 34-year-old former pastor was convicted on three counts of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of displaying an obscene item to a minor.
Police began investigating Harmon in August of 2018 after the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of child sexual abuse. The Worcester County Child Advocacy Center and Child Protective Services then launched a joint investigation, which revealed that Harmon sexually abused several children while working as a youth pastor.
Legal Recourse for Church Sexual Abuse Survivors and Their Families
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now represents survivors of sexual crimes in civil lawsuits. We’ve asked him to discuss the options for legal recourse available to survivors of sexual abuse in religious organizations:
With international sexual abuse scandals in organizations like the Catholic Church, Southern Baptists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, it should come as no surprise that sexual predators often seek out positions of authority and trust in religious communities. These communities must be aware of the threat of sexual predators and do all that they can to protect the members of their communities from sexual violence.
Religious organizations who cover up sexual abuse or enable it through negligence must be held accountable for the harm they’ve caused. Victims in several types of organizations have fought back by filing lawsuits against the organization for their negligent failure to keep their members safe. This helps demand accountability from these organizations, which can lead to changes that protect others from being abused in the future. These lawsuits also help provide financial compensation for the victims.
Have you or a loved one been sexually abused in a religious organization? We understand how painful this time has been for you and your family and we want to help. You can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking to an experienced sexual abuse survivors attorney.