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NEWS DIGEST: Florida pastor on the run; Kentucky church childcare worker arrested

Florida pastor accused of sexual battery now a fugitive

MARATHON, Fla. (BP) – A Florida Keys pastor arrested last month on charges of sexual battery skipped his arraignment Monday (April 1) and was seen fleeing the area in a white van, Local 10 News reported.

Monte Chitty, 62, was arrested March 4 and released on $75,000 bond. Chitty was pastor of First Baptist Church Marathon, and the alleged crime took place on church property.

In a statement at the time, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said it received an anonymous call from a person reporting they had overheard a girl say she’d been raped.

“As deputies attempted to find the victim, communications officers received a second call from the suspect, Monte Chitty …,” the statement said. “Chitty said he believed he was about to be accused of something and he wanted to get ahead of it. He said a young girl at his church had been drinking and had passed out on a couch in the library of the church. He said he helped her to lie down on the couch but did not touch her after that.”

When deputies located the girl, 15, she told them Chitty gave her a drink she believes may have been spiked and she began to feel weak and lost consciousness. When she awoke, Chitty was molesting her, she reported.

In both the girl’s and Chitty’s phones, detectives found messages in which Chitty alluded to sexual acts against the girl.

“Our understanding is that he’s already on the road and he’s left the state of Florida,” Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward told Local 10 News on Monday.

The station also reported that investigators had found evidence of incriminating internet searches on Chitty’s computer.

“The crime he committed is very disgusting, to tell you the truth,” Ward told the news station. “This guy’s a former cop from Alaska and a preacher and he violated a 15-year-old girl. So I’m concerned about everybody in this guy’s path.”

The judge increased Chitty’s bond to $1.3 million and issued a warrant for his arrest, Local 10 News reported. The lead detective in the case said in court that Chitty has lived in 25 states and worked in several churches, so could have many places to hide.

Ward told reporters: “Our concern is not only for this community, but where’s this guy going to go? We want to get this guy and we will bring him into custody.”

Kentucky Baptist childcare worker arrested for abuse

By BP Staff

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (BP) – A former childcare worker at a facility operated by First Baptist Church Bowling Green was charged with multiple counts of child abuse March 30.

Maranya Shobe was charged with 10 misdemeanor counts of third-degree criminal abuse, the Bowling Green Daily News reported. She will be arraigned May 9.

Officials with the Bowling Green Police Department told the Daily News that parents reported that children had been abused at the church-based childcare center.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the past few months and found footage of Shobe allegedly dragging children by the arm and deliberately bumping into them, causing them to fall.

Ten incidents were determined to be criminal in nature.

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