MORRIS — A former assistant pastor at a Brookside church, who also served with the Warrior Fire Department, has been arrested on charges of sexual abuse and sodomy.
Jay Strickland, who was an administrative pastor at Sharon Heights Baptist Church, was arrested on June 5 on charges that he sexually abused two separate people, both of whom were children at the time.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jack Self said their office first learned of the accusations three months ago when a male victim came forward. In the course of the investigation, it was determined that another female victim was involved.
Both victims are now adults and live outside the state, Self said.
Strickland, 50 and a Morris resident, was arrested on June 5 and charged with two counts of sexual abuse and one count of sodomy. He was released from jail on $70,000 bond, and faces a preliminary hearing on July 17.
The church had a part in telling authorities about the allegations, according to a statement issued by Senior Pastor Rev. Terry Trivette.
“Upon knowledge of the allegations against Mr. Jay Strickland, the necessary legal authorities were notified, and Mr. Strickland was placed upon an indefinite leave of absence from the church. Upon knowledge of Mr. Strickland’s arrest, he was formally relieved of his duties and is no longer employed by Sharon Heights Baptist Church,” Trivette’s statement said. He declined further comment.
There’s no word yet on just how long ago the alleged acts occurred.
An official with the city of Warrior confirmed that Strickland had worked as an EMS officer, but was no longer on the force. Strickland had previously been a part of the Morris volunteer firefighter roster, and had taught various first-aid and first-responder courses in the local area.
Strickland was also a candidate for mayor of Morris in 2008, losing to incumbent Craig Drummonds.
An attorney representing Strickland has not yet returned a call for comment.