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Mississippi pastor charged with child exploitation

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (BP) – A Mississippi pastor was arrested earlier this month on charges of child exploitation. Kyle Hilleary, 30, was on staff at Cedar View Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Miss. He also taught at a nearby Christian school.

In a statement released Nov. 8, the day after Hilleary’s arrest, Cedar View Pastor Matthew Moore said the church had no knowledge of Hilleary’s actions until after his arrest and vowed that the church would “comply with the authorities to the fullest extent.”

“Kyle is suspended from his employment indefinitely, until the church can together take further action in accordance with its bylaws,” Moore’s statement said.

“… In our constant need, we cry out to the God of justice for mercy. And in His grace He already answered us in the eternal Son. … Through tears, but in faith, we cling to Jesus for His endless supplies of grace and mercy, for His wisdom and strength. …”

Cross Creek Christian Academy, where Hilleary was a teacher, released its own statement saying school officials had immediately terminated Hilleary and would not allow him on campus while the investigation is ongoing.

“At this time, we are not aware of any of the allegations involving any actions while on campus or as a teacher at the school,” the statement said.

“As a ministry, when an allegation is made against an employee, our organization immediately removes that individual from any contact with children pending the outcome of the criminal matter, and we fully cooperate with parents, state officials, and law enforcement. We believe that if children are safe anywhere, they should be safe at Cross Creek.”

Shawn Parker, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, told Baptist Press the group is always “heartbroken to hear of any incident of abuse involving a minister.

“We remain firmly committed to making our churches safe places for children and vulnerable adults,” Parker said in written comments. “Though we’ve made a lot of progress, these sorts of stories remind us that we need to continue our diligence in protecting children from predators.”

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office has taken jurisdiction in the case. The offense Hilleary is accused of was unclear as of press time. His bond was set at $250,000, and he bonded out the same day of his arrest.

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