Pastor says Middle Tennessee church intern accused of statutory rape

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – A former Long Hollow Baptist Church Intern was arrested last week for the statutory rape of a student, the church announced Sunday.

According to a statement from Senior Pastor Robby Gallaty, the former intern was arrested on Tuesday of last week. The Sumner County Sheriff’s Office has identified the man as 24-year-old Benjamin Widrick.

The church says the incident took place while Widrick was doing a 10-week internship last summer.

“The timeline is fuzzy (and details are still coming together), but the abuse appears to have taken place last summer during the former intern’s 10-week service period with our student team at the Gallatin Campus,” Gallaty said in a statement.

Gallaty said one of the student pastors first heard rumors in December 2018 and it was immediately reported to the Gallatin Police Department and Long Hollow leadership team. The case was then turned over to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department.

The pastor went on to say in his statement;

“As we grieve for the victim, we are also deeply saddened that an event like this took place, especially with a student who was entrusted to our care. As with all of our employees, every intern we hire must pass a strict background check and interview process before they can serve with our church family. It sickens me that our processes and safeguards didn’t prevent this from happening. Long Hollow is a place where we take moral integrity and accountability seriously, and nowhere is that more crucial than on our staff. We’re doing our best to uncover how this relationship developed, and will do everything in our power to keep this from ever taking place again.”

The church says they’ve also now restricted interns from befriending students on social media. They’ve also updated transportation policies, enhanced their training process, and “developed a comprehensive Child Protection Policy which includes an extra layer of safeguards, accountability, and training.”

Widrick was charged with three counts of statutory rape and arraigned in Sumner County court. His bond was set at $20,000.