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Illinois pastor charged with two counts of grooming 

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Editor’s Note: In support of the sixth strategic action of Vision 2025 adopted by messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, Baptist Press will continue to report every instance of sexual abuse related to Southern Baptist churches or leaders of which we are made aware.

MT. VERNON, Ill. (BP) – A pastor from McLeansboro, Ill., was arrested Jan. 5 on two counts of grooming minors for sexual purposes. Garrett Biggerstaff was charged after a four-month investigation that included the seizure of his electronic devices and collection of evidence at his home. A juvenile first reported the claims to Benton police. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department led the investigation which produced evidence to support a second charge. Biggerstaff was taken into custody and booked at the Jefferson County Jail. His bond was set for $150,000.

Biggerstaff, 28, was employed by the Spring Garden Consolidated Community School District in Ina, Ill., at the time, but he resigned when the investigation became public in November. He was also the pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Fairfield. The church suspended Biggerstaff immediately and he has not returned to the pulpit. Following his arrest, Biggerstaff offered the church his resignation, which was accepted in a church business meeting on Jan. 8.

If you are/have been a victim of sexual abuse or suspect sexual abuse by a pastor, staff member or member of a Southern Baptist church or entity, please reach out for help at 202-864-5578 or [email protected]. All calls are confidential.

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