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Preacher Charged With Child Abuse:
Cobb Pastor Accused Of Fondling Two Girls
BYLINE: By Cynthia Durcanin Staff Writer
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta
Journal and Constitution
|A Baptist preacher who
established a Cobb County ministry after leaving two other churches
amid allegations of sexual misconduct was arrested in Marietta
Monday on charges of child abuse, police said. |
arrested the Rev. Tony McGowan, pastor of the New Grace
Baptist Church in Powder Springs, Monday on two counts of cruelty to
children and one count of child molestation in connection with
alleged fondling incidents involving a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old
he met through his ministry.
The allegations came to light
after the youngest girl, now 14, told her mother that the minister,
43, fondled her in a church van. "She just decided somebody had to
be told because she didn't want anyone to go through what she did,"
Lt. Robert Pittman said, adding the child initially refrained from
telling her parents because "she did not think anybody would believe
In February, the Georgia Department of Human Resources
(DHR) also investigated the Rev. McGowan after he and his wife took
in a child he met through Cobb Street Ministries, a shelter run by
Cobb County Commissioner Harvey Paschal and his wife, Carol.
A woman who made a temporary foster care agreement with the
McGowans filed a complaint with authorities when the couple later
refused to give up the child, Lieutenant Pittman said. However, once
police intervened, the Rev. McGowan and his wife returned the child
to its natural mother without incident and the case was dropped.
DHR is currently investigating Cobb Street Ministries on
unrelated allegations that it is placing children in foster care
without a license.
Calling the Rev. McGowan "a good friend,"
Mr. Paschal said he has been "very active in the [Cobb Street]
ministry," and has helped to feed, clothe and shelter the needy.
Mr. Paschal said he was stunned by the news of the Rev.
"It knocked me right off my feet," he
said. "That is totally out of character from what I know about Tony
McGowan. . . . If I had been looking for a child molester it would not have been
Asked whether he knew of allegations that forced the
Rev. McGowan to leave an Alabama church, Mr. Paschal said he did
According to Capt. Sharon Moody, the Rev. McGowan
established a ministry in east Cobb after a board of elders at a
Gadsden, Ala., church asked him to leave amid allegations of sexual
misconduct and misappropriation of funds.
The Rev. McGowan
served as pastor at Morningview Baptist
in east Cobb until 1985 when church officials asked him to leave
after similar allegations, Captain Moody said. He established New
Grace Baptist in September 1986.
The Rev. McGowan, of 2795
Old Carriage Drive in Marietta, is being held in the Cobb County
Jail without bond and could not be reached for comment.
reached for comment, his wife, Betty McGowan, said she was unaware
of the charges. "I know that it's not true," she said.
Police identified three other alleged victims during the
course of the investigation, but no charges are being filed because
of the statute of limitations, Captain Moody said.
told detectives the Rev. McGowan often invited young girls from his
church to spend the night at his home where he tickled and chased
them around in their nightgowns.
The 17-year-old was
allegedly molested in the Rev. McGowan's
car and the younger girl allegedly fondled inside a church van,
police said, adding that the investigation is still open.
The Rev. McGowan, who began his most recent Cobb County
ministry in a Powder Springs warehouse, now preaches to his 100 or
so followers in trailers that serve as a makeshift church on Macland
Road, Lieutenant Pittman said.