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Pastor Jailed In 2nd Abuse Case

Jul 15, 2002 | Newsday

The pastor of a Brooklyn church, who was convicted of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1987, was in jail yesterday after being accused of trying to fondle a teenager in South Carolina.

The Rev. Robert Reaves was arrested Saturday in Bennettsville, S.C., after he allegedly put his hands in a 17-year-old boy's pants, authorities said. He was ordered held on $75,000 bail by Municipal Judge Nan Fleming, according to officials at the local jail.

Reaves, 37, moved to South Carolina after a Newsday story in May reported that he was trying to open a day care center in his church, the Cedar International Fellowship on Thatford Avenue in the Brownsville section, despite having the previous conviction for child sex abuse.

The article also quoted residents of a block in Canarsie who said Reaves had been trying to entice teenagers into working for a male escort service.

Sgt. Curtis McDuffie of the Marlboro County Detention Facility, where Reaves is being held, said the minister was brought in Saturday afternoon for "assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct by touching the private area of" the alleged victim. Newsday is withholding the name of the alleged victim because of the nature of the allegation. McDuffie said he believes Reaves did not yet have an attorney.

In 1987, while Reaves was pastor of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Blenheim, S.C., he was arrested and then convicted of sexually attacking a 14-year-old boy. After serving four years in jail, he moved to New York City, where he lived for a time in southeast Queens and in Brooklyn.

South Carolina probation authorities say Reaves never got the sex abuse counseling he had been ordered to receive.

Marlboro County Sheriff William Simon said he was baffled as to why Reaves would choose to return to a small conservative town in South Carolina, where so many residents were aware of the past sex allegations against him.

"We're still trying to figure it out," Simon said, in a telephone interview yesterday.

Reached by phone in South Carolina yesterday, the alleged victim in the recent case said Reaves, driving a car, approached him on a street in Bennettsville on Thursday and asked him if he needed a job. Once he entered Reaves' car, the youth said, Reaves turned the conversation to sex and shoved his hands down the alleged victim's pants.

The youth said he ran from the car, noted the license plate number and contacted police.

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