A volunteer youth minister and church choir director has been arrested after allegations he repeatedly sexually abused a girl during Sunday school starting when she was 9.
William Richardson, 47, was charged with capital sexual battery after the girl, now 11, told a staff member at her school that he had molested her over a three-year period at the First Baptist Church of Mango in Seffner, Fla., according to RawStory.com.
Investigators for the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Dept. said the suspect first molested the girl when she was between 9 and 10. At least one other incident happened earlier this year with the girl, now 11, TampaBay.com reported.
Before the arrest, deputies had the victim talk with Richardson by phone. They said that during the conversation, he said things that made it clear he had committed the sexual battery, WTSP-TV reported.
Staff at the First Baptist Church of Mango said that Richardson was only a volunteer and not a paid employee, the station reported.
Nita Allred, the church's Youth Ministries Director, is shocked by the allegations.
"How can it be going on that long and we not know about it," Allred said to ABCActionNews.com "Somebody would have said something, but nobody said anything."
Vest Dickerson, wife of the church's pastor, says all the congregation can do at this time is pray.
"I have to trust in God to see us through," Dickerson told the station.
William Richardson Sr., Richardson's father, told MyFoxTampaBay.com that he was shocked to hear of the charges and described his son as "very much a Christian man" and an important part of church operation.
Richardson's father said his son had a 20-year-old daughter, but was not married.