Church backing pastor jailed on molestation charges

January 3, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (ABP) -- An American Baptist church in California is
standing behind its pastor, currently held on multiple charges of child
molestation.

Tommy Gene Daniels, 48. pastor of First Baptist Church in Rio Linda, Calif., was arrested
Dec. 9 on felony charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a child and
engaging in three or more acts of sexual conduct with a child. His bail
is $6 million.

According to local media reports, police arrested Daniels on a warrant
in Citrus Heights, Calif., but postponed publicizing the arrest while
they continued to investigate the case. The Sacramento Bee quoted a police officer who said Daniels' original $1 million bail was increased because he is considered a flight risk.

The charges stem from acts that allegedly occurred between June 2004 and
June 2007. Police said they investigated an initial complaint against
Daniels in 2008 but could not find enough evidence to make an arrest.
After a second alleged victim came forward in recent months, the
district attorney filed charges Dec. 9 and Daniels was arrested that
evening.

First Baptist Church of Rio Linda is affiliated with Growing Healthy Churches, a network
of 220 churches in northern California and northern Nevada. Formerly
known as American Baptist Churches of the West, it is one of 34 regional
bodies affiliated
with American Baptist Churches USA. The group changed its name in 2006
because some congregations did not want to be identified with a national
denomination they believed was becoming too tolerant of homosexuality.
 
The church released a statement of support for the pastor Jan. 1. "Until
such time as the courts prove Pastor Tom Daniels guilty, we have an
obligation to support him and his family," said the statement quoted in local media.

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