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.
WEWOKA, Okla. (BP) – A public middle school principal who also volunteered with youth at an Oklahoma Baptist Church was arrested Thursday (Oct. 27) and charged with lewd or indecent proposal or acts to a child.
Local media reports say Cody Barlow is accused of fondling a male student in his office at Wewoka Middle School.
“The male child reported to authorities that Barlow had inappropriate contact with him on multiple occasions this school year,” the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a news release. “The behavior escalated in September when the child was sexually assaulted.”
Local news outlets also refer to Barlow as a youth pastor. His role with youth at First Baptist Church in Wewoka was volunteer.
“We are grieved by these serious charges against Mr. Barlow,” First Baptist Pastor Pastor Nathan Brumley told Baptist Press. “We are aware that law enforcement is working with the Wewoka School District in this important matter. This individual, who previously served in volunteer role at our church, has been removed from all responsibilities. We treat these allegations with the utmost seriousness, and we are praying for everyone impacted by this tragic situation.”
Barlow, who has been released on $100,000 bond, is 33 and married with children. He became a teacher in Wewoka in 2013 and had been principal at Wewoka Middle School since 2020.
An OSBI spokeswoman told the Oklahoman newspaper on Friday (Oct. 28) that the bureau is “investigating allegations made by multiple victims.”
“I am grieved to learn of these troubling charges surrounding this school administrator and former volunteer leader in his church,” said Todd Fisher, executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists. “These are crucial times for Southern Baptists. We must have the highest standards of safety in our ministry contexts. Oklahoma Baptists will continue to lead the way in preventing abuse and care for abuse survivors. We are praying for all those impacted.”
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.