Two communities are in shock after a popular pastor was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a child.
Joe Ivey is a pastor at Barnesville Baptist Church in Montgomery County.
The man people call Pastor Joe is known to be very close to his parishioners. Their children would sometimes spend the night at his house.
According to a charging document, the 74-year-old pastor made inappropriate sexual contact with one of his parishioners daughters' on two occasions. One incident allegedly happened at the pastors' home in Walkersville, Md., nearly two years ago when the girl was 10.
“I think it's a shame either way ... either he's been accused of something he didn't do or if he did something he shouldn't have done,” Barnesville resident Robin Garrett said.
Authorities say the girl spent the night at Ivey’s house during a snowstorm. The next morning, Ivey's wife left and he allegedly initiated sexual contact with the girl for half an hour.
The girls' mother went to police Monday after hearing her daughter's story two days before. Authorities then arranged a monitored phone call between the girl and Ivey. The charging document says when the 11 year-old asked him if she should tell anyone, he replied no, saying"this is between you, me and God."
Many of Ivey's Frederick neighbors are shocked at the allegations and say the pastor has been a good neighbor.
“I don't have any complaints… not my business is the way I look at it," said Larry Shepley.
Authorities say the man denied having sexual contact with any other minors, including the victim's two younger siblings.
"We are sorry to the church for what this has caused and to the family involved. A lot is exaggerated and the truth will come out. I am standing by my husband. He is a good man,” his wife said over the phone. There was no answer at Ivey's home Friday.
Ivey is no longer a pastor at Barnesville Baptist church. He's been released on bail and a preliminary hearing is set for September 28th.