Graphic testimony outlines how Mid-South pastor allegedly molested church member - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Paranjape

Graphic testimony outlines how Mid-South pastor allegedly molested church member

Graphic courtroom testimony Wednesday outlined how a Mid-South pastor allegedly molested a member of his church.

Steven Haney served as pastor at Walnut Grove Baptist Church for 20 years. Now, he faces charges of sexual battery by an authority figure.

Testimony in court Wednesday from a young man accusing Haney of sexual abuse was graphic.

"We would start to kiss," the man said. "He would remove my boxers, and then I would know that I needed to remove his."

Action News 5 is not identifying the young man because he claims to be the victim of a sexual crime.

The man said Haney made him perform sex acts inside Haney's church and his house. He claimed the abuse started when he was 15, and lasted for five years. The victim said Haney told him he must be willing to perform the sex acts to get closer to God.

"He was a mentor and someone who told me that we were a team so close together," he said. "He was going to mentor me and disciple me into great opportunities for God."

The young man said he didn't realize he was a victim of sexual abuse until he was 20-year-old.

According to Dr. Jim Whelan, a clinical psychologist at the University of Memphis, authority figures who prey on minors take their time in gaining that trust.

"It doesn't start with someone coming up to you and want you to do something bad," he said.

Instead, Whelan said, it starts with a proposition of something that is in more of a "grey area."  Before long, things that used to seem wrong begin to seem ok.  Once the trust is there, according to Whelan, the authority figure builds a relationship with the victim.

"Once that trust is built, they do what they're told...what they're directed to do," he said. "Because they trust the others, they believe no harm will come their way."

Whelan said while some victims what is happening is wrong, not all have the courage to speak out about their abuse.

Steven Haney's case was bound over to a grand jury Wednesday.

Stay with Action News 5 for updates on this story.


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