Former church elder is indicted on sex crimes charges - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Former church elder is indicted on sex crimes charges

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Timothy Probert Timothy Probert

A former church elder and youth leader has been indicted by a grand jury on fifty charges related to the sexual abuse of children.  Timothy Probert, 56, of Mercer County was arrested on the charges in December of 2013.  The charges came about after Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bluefield launched its own investigation into Probert and alerted law enforcement of their findings. 

WVVA News spoke with arresting officer Sergeant M.D. Clemons of the West Virginia State Police when the initial arrest occurred.  She told us that the alleged incidents involved boys ages 12 to 17 and went as far back as 1986.  A graphic criminal complaint laid out incidents of sexual intercourse and other sex acts committed at Probert's home and on mission trips.  Some of the sexual crimes allegedly involved children placed in Probert's care by a local mentoring agency.  

Prosecutor Scott Ash says the charges include sexual assault in the first, second and third degree, and sexual assault by a parent, guardian or custodian. Ash says there's also a delivery of a controlled substance charge after one of the boys claimed that he had been given Xanax in preparation of the sexual encounter.

Ash says the arraignment is set for February 23rd.

WVVA received the following statement from Pastor Jonathan Rockness of Westminster Presbyterian Church:  

"There really is not much new to say at this point regarding this specific case, but I might just reiterate some things that we've already said publically:

--We acted quickly to alert authorities when we became suspicious of sexual misconduct.

--Though there was not sufficient evidence for the authorities to act at that time, we conducted our own investigation.

--When our own investigation yielded more allegations, we again went to the authorities, at which point they did indeed pursue the case.

--We are very thankful for our public servants who are seeking truth and justice, and we continue to pray for truth and justice to prevail.

--Whether it regards this situation or any other potential abuse situations, we encourage survivors of abuse to come forward. We also consider those who do come forward with truthful allegations of abuse to be heroes, deserving the utmost respect.

The only thing I would add to the discussion at this point is this: because of this situation which is so personal and painful to us, we have done a lot of homework and tried to educate ourselves further on abuse in general. We believe it is very common for survivors of abuse to stay silent for many years. Skeptics of abuse allegations often question, “Why now?” “Why would someone wait 30 years to make an allegation against Bill Cosby?”

We have discovered there are many valid and personal reasons people stay silent.  Because of this, we are advocates of further education on this issue, and we also believe that many jurisdictions need to revisit their statutes of limitations regarding abuse cases."

Jonathan Rockness

Sr. Pastor, Westminster EPC

Bluefield, WV

Editor's Note:
Mr. Probert's former residence, shown in some of the video, is no longer his residence, but is a suspected scene of the alleged crimes.

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