The pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, 527 Park Ave., said the member of his church who was found guilty Wednesday of child rape and molestation charges against a youth who also was a member there never was a full-fledged deacon.
Pastor Charles Daniels said Thursday that Warren D. Locke was examined to serve as a church deacon, but had some "issues" and was only "conditionally made a deacon" after that.
Locke was referred to as "deacon" throughout his trial Tuesday and Wednesday by both prosecution and defense attorneys and witnesses on his behalf.
Daniels also said that Locke was removed from service after allegations were made against him.
"The church didn't know he was involved with this individual until after he was charged," Daniels said.
In court testimony, Locke said he asked Daniels if he should serve as the boy's mentor. Locke said the pastor told him he should think about it and that it was ultimately his choice.
Daniels refuted that, saying he advised against serving as a mentor.
"He was never assigned by the church to mentor," Daniels said. "When he approached me I told him it wasn't a good idea and told him not to get involved with it specifically. It wasn't at the direction of the church."
Daniels also wanted to clarify that Locke did not serve in a leadership capacity when he accompanied youth on a service trip to Allentown and an excursion to Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg.
Daniels said the church is trying to heal after the rift that was caused by Locke's actions.
"I need to say emphatically that we don't condone that kind of behavior," he said.