LAWTON — A Lawton church pastor has been charged with child sexual abuse following an investigation that prompted DHS officials to close a local juvenile group home.
Bobby Glen Burrell, pastor of One More Soul Outreach Ministry, is accused of exposing himself and masturbating in front of a 16-year-old boy after taking the boy from the group home to the church.
Burrell is only charged with one felony count of child sexual abuse. But Lawton police reported Burrell took several group home children on unauthorized trips and that “six possible juvenile victims were interviewed.”
In addition to being a pastor, Burrell, 28, was on staff as a youth guidance specialist at the privately run Sequoyah House in Lawton where the youths were living.
Three other Sequoyah House staff members, Stephanie Clanton, 32, Dekota Shedd, 39, and Chevonne Goins, 35, face misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse. Clanton is from Blanchard. Shedd and Goins are from Lawton.
Allegations of child sexual abuse were first reported to Lawton police by Sequoyah House programs director Cheryl Carroll on Oct. 11, according to police reports. Clanton, Shedd and Goins reportedly had known about the alleged abuse since Sept. 18, but failed to report it to law enforcement authorities.
The 16-year-old alleged victim told investigators that Burrell took him to the church in July 2012.
The boy said Burrell took him into the church office, locked the door behind him, and asked him to watch a pornographic video with him on his cellphone.
Burrell masturbated while he watched the video and encouraged the boy to watch the video and masturbate, as well, the boy said.
“At first, Burrell denied all allegations,” Lawton Police Detective Nancy Lombardo said in an affidavit.
Later, Burrell admitted masturbating in the church “bathroom” but contended it was the boy who had been watching the pornographic video and stated the boy had encouraged him to watch the video.
Burrell later denied masturbating at the church during an interview with a DHS investigator, Lombardo said.
“Burrell also stated that he had only taken boys to the church after normal business hours once or twice, and then later gave numerous examples of after-hours outings with different boys,” Lombardo reported.
A telephone call to the church office was not returned.
Possible victims, who ranged in age from 14 to 17, told detectives that Burrell would pick them up at the group home after hours and take them to the church, his home and fast food restaurants.
The Sequoyah House closed Dec. 27 after the Oklahoma Department of Human Services notified the home's operator in November that it was canceling the company's contract and revoking its license, said Mark Beutler, DHS communications manager.
The group home was operated by Sallisaw-based Sequoyah Enterprises, which is currently appealing the contract cancellation and closure, he said.
Beutler said as soon as allegations were received, DHS officials acted immediately to ensure that Burrell was removed from the group home and prohibited from returning.
“We continued to have our child welfare staff on site every day, including weekends, monitoring the safety of the children,” he said. “We take very seriously the safety of the children in our care and take every precaution to ensure their safety.”
The charges filed Friday in Comanche County District Court were the result of a joint investigation by the Lawton Police Department and the DHS Office of Client Advocacy.
If convicted, Burrell could be sentenced to up to life in prison and fined from $500 to $5,000. The other three suspects in failure to report the alleged abuse each could be imprisoned up to a year and fined up to $1,000, if they are convicted.