Pastor arrested on sex crime charge

Published: Mar. 14, 2012 at 3:55 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2012 at 10:19 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - The pastor of one of the oldest churches in the south is arrested -- accused of trying to arrange sex with a minor. Curtis Mathews is pastor at Springfield Baptist Church. Right now, he's behind bars -- facing two felony charges. News of his arrest is being called "unbelievable" by members in his congregation.

Mathews appeared in court Wednesday. He told a judge he'd retain his own attorney. His alleged victim lives in Petersburg. Police say aren't saying much about what happened...but do say the child's guardian is the one who alerted police.

Pastor Curtis Mathews has preached the gospel at Springfield Baptist Church for 15 years. Now, he's in trouble with the law. Around 11 o'clock last night, Petersburg Police arrested Mathews at his Prince George home. He's charged with two felony counts of using a computer to facilitate sex with a female minor.

Members of Springfield Baptist are floored. They say Mathews is one of the best pastors to preach at this church.

Ordained Deaconess, Carolyn Diggs, has been a member of the church most of her life.

"His preaching and teaching -- I've grown a lot spiritually since he's been here. We really thank God for him," she said.

She says the congregation is praying...and reserving judgment.

"We're all hurt. That sums it up," Diggs said. "When times like this come we need to come together and not drift apart."

No one opened the door at his home this afternoon.

Mathews is 50-years-old. Church members say he has 4 daughters, a 12-year-old son, and that his wife is an Associate Pastor at Springfield Baptist. Diggs says she spoke with the pastor's family today.

"I told her we have the family in our prayers just as well as the church family - we just keep each other in prayer," she said.

Tonight, the leadership team at the church will meet to discuss Mathew's role as pastor in light of the criminal charges he's facing.

Police say it appears Mathews and his alleged teen victim met online. Mathews is being held at Riverside Regional Jail. During his arraignment Wednesday a judge set Mathews' trial date for April 19th.

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