GBI: Former youth pastor in Metter charged with sexual exploitation, sexual battery
METTER, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) says a former youth pastor has been arrested on sexual exploitation charges.
The GBI says 22-year-old Steve Macallin Thomas, of Garfield, Ga., turned himself in Monday night.
Thomas is charged with two counts of sexual exploitation and two counts of sexual battery.
They say the investigation was started at the request of the Candler County Sheriff’s Office, and that the victims identified so far were children under the age of 15 at the time of the incidents.
The GBI says Thomas is a former youth pastor at the Restoration Worship Center in Metter.
Pastor Tony Brown from Restoration Worship Center spoke to WTOC and explained that Thomas served on their staff for about a year as the children’s pastor, not over youth. Brown says accusations came up in September about questionable contact between Thomas and teens and that Brown removed Thomas from the church staff. The arrest caught many church members, past and present, by surprise.
“It’s shocking to me. I don’t know about the other members of RWC, but it’s shocking to me,” said former church member Lashay Daniels.
The Candler County Sheriff’s Office says they’re still awaiting a timeline for Thomas’ first appearance in court.
The investigation is ongoing, anyone with information should contact the GBI.
Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.