Man charged with raping child during church service - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Man charged with raping child during church service

Mark Richard (Source: SCSO) Mark Richard (Source: SCSO)

A man accused of raping a child seven years ago at a Memphis church was arrested last week.

According to the police report, the victim's mother told police about the assault on December 31, 2013. She said her son had been sexually assaulted by a church member in 2009, when he was 7 years old.

The victim told police he didn't feel comfortable talking about the incident at the time of the rape. He eventually said he was raped by a man named Mark at Messiah Baptist Church.

Three years later, police officers arrested Mark Richard, 31. 

Police said after they identified Richard as the suspect in the rape investigation, Richard agreed to come to 201 Poplar to give a statement, but he never showed up. He then failed to show up for another appointment, and he began ignoring investigators' calls and voicemails.

Police tracked Richard down and arrested him in September 2016.

Richard's last listed home had boards over the windows and broken glass on the front door. Nobody answered when WMC Action News 5 crews knocked on the door.

"The one place you should feel safe is in a church," Richard's neighbor Mary Howell said when she learned of the allegations against Richard. "We have this deranged person on this street around our children"

Neighbors said with so many children playing on the street it bothers them that Richard was walking free for so many years.

Messiah Baptist Church said Richard stopped attending the church for a long period of time several years ago. Church leaders did not know why Richard stopped attending, however, they said in the past few weeks he returned to attend services. 

Richard is a member of Messiah Baptist Church, but he does not hold any specific position within the church.

Richard is currently facing charges of rape of a child.

Memphis Police Department said there have not been any other crimes reported against Richard. Nonetheless, officers are investigating previously reported cases.

We know nationally, sex crimes are underreported by victims for many reasons.  We encourage victims to report crimes to the Memphis Police Department.  They can do so at home, at a precinct, or at the sex crimes office.

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