Camerius Mills, a Baptist preacher in Alabama, has been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl, whom he was supposed to be teaching piano.
The clergyman, pictured above, allegedly raped the unnamed teen this summer and has been brought up on three counts of second-degree rape, according to the Daily Mail.
Additionally, he is looking at one count of second-degree sodomy and three counts of traveling to have intercourse with a child.
It is believed that “at least one” of the charges occurred on federal property, meaning that additional felony charges are pending.
According to the AL website, the 29-year-old Camerius Mills preached at a church in Abbeville and the girl was a member of the congregation where he worked.
He is being held in the Henry County Jail on $455,000 bail, the site notes.
“We interviewed him and he confessed to it,” Henry County Sheriff William Maddox said. “He said he’d been pastor of the church for three years.”
For those concerned that Camerius Mills had no remorse for his actions, he did apologize to the victim and is “seeking God’s forgiveness,” he said in a press conference earlier in the week.
Unfortunately, the Camerius Mills case isn’t an isolated occurrence. Churches appear to attract an inordinate amount of sex offenders.
The Religion News Service detailed just how prevalent child sex abuse is in religious circles, citing an Abel Harlow study that revealed disturbing numbers.
“This study found that pedophilia molesters average 12 child victims and 71 acts of molestation. An earlier study by Dr. Abel found that out of 561 sexual offenders there were over 291,000 incidents totaling over 195,000 total victims. These are enough victims to fill 2 ½ Superdomes! This same study found that only 3% of these sexual offenders have a chance of getting caught.”
Perhaps worst of all for religious people, approximately 93 percent of these abusers identified themselves as “religious.” Furthermore, the extent of their abuse was characterized as “more dangerous.”
There are two oft-cited theories as to why this is.
Firstly, religious people, according to the RNS report, have a tendency to be more trusting of individuals’ motives because they feel spiritually obligated to give people the benefit of the doubt.
This leaves a wide opening for sexual predators to break into a church’s inner circle and exploit trust, particularly among youth group participants.
The second theory: religion has a tendency to “criminalize” sexual openness to the extent of repression, with many doctrines teaching that it is a sin to have sex before marriage or a sin to use birth control or a sin to masturbate.
Some have theorized that greater levels of sexual repression in a belief system can serve as an impetus to more mentally troubled individuals to “act out.”
Unfortunately, the aforementioned youth groups and children’s classes make for a fertile hunting ground, with some sexual predators even choosing to go into the ministry just to satisfy their urges.
Take the case of 31-year-old Jonathan Neeley, who was arrested for first-degree sexual assault in February of this year, per 5NEWS.
Neeley, like Camerius Mills, was able to use his position as a means of finding his victims. Three women filed reports in all — one 17-year-old, and two 18-year-olds.
While Neeley and Mills are both of Protestant faiths, the problem has also touched the Catholic and Mormon churches as well as Islam, so it doesn’t discriminate in religious circles.
What do you think about the problem of sexual predators in church, readers? Do you think that it’s a matter of sexual repression or external predators targeting overly trusting people?
And do you think people like Camerius Mills suffer from a mental illness?
[Image of Camerius Mills via Henry County Sheriff’s Office]