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Illinois pastor suspended after arrest on grooming minor for sex

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.

DECATUR, Ill. (BP) – Illinois pastor Joseph Krol has been suspended from his ministry post after a 15-year-old minor he previously pastored accused him of sending her “sexually inappropriate” Snapchat messages.

Krol, 36, is in the Macon County (Illinois) jail after being arrested Oct. 15 on a charge of “grooming,” a class 4 felony, according to a sworn statement of deputies on file at the Macon County Circuit Court. Krol is being held on $75,000 bond, a Macon County Circuit Court spokesperson told Baptist Press.

Krol is accused of committing the alleged crime Oct. 7 by asking a 15-year-old girl he previously pastored at Galilee Baptist Church in Decatur to play an online true confessions game, the girl’s mother told deputies. Officers responded by intercepting Snapchat messages Krol is accused of sending the girl, which gave deputies probable cause to obtain a search warrant and arrest Kohl at his home.

Rochester First Baptist Church in Rochester, the church Krol has pastored since July 18, has suspended him from duties. A Rochester First Baptist spokesperson did not respond to Baptist Press’ request for further information.

“Dr. Krol was arrested by the Macon County Sheriff’s Department on October 15, 2021, and charged with grooming,” Rochester First Baptist said in a statement on its website. “We as a church are grieved to learn of this allegation involving Dr. Krol. Because we take this seriously, we have immediately suspended Dr. Krol from all responsibilities.

“We have great concern and are in prayer for all affected by the situation and will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.”

Galilee Baptist Church, Krol’s immediate past pastorate, also lamented the allegations and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

“We are saddened to hear of the recent allegations made against Dr. Krol. We as a church take these allegations seriously and will cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation,” Galilee Baptist said on its website. “We are eager to minister to all involved in this situation and will be offering professional counseling services to the victim of the alleged incident. We are praying for all involved.”

The alleged grooming reportedly began during Krol’s pastorate at Galilee Baptist, the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA) said in a statement on its website, but the officer’s sworn statement only references Snapchat messages as early as Oct. 7.

“IBSA ministry staff are assisting leaders in both churches with their reporting information to the congregations and in communications with their communities,” the IBSA statement reads.

While each Southern Baptist church is autonomous, messengers to the 2019 and 2021 Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings approved amendments to the SBC constitution to specifically state that mishandling sexual abuse is among grounds for a church to be deemed as “not in friendly cooperation” with the Convention.