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Church officials asked victim about inappropriate contact at City of Refuge

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
UPDATE: Authorities say the allegations against a Christian school employee who shot himself last week involved three teenage girls.
The girls were living at the City of Refuge boarding school, where Danny Ray Kesler was a house parent, and came forward with the allegations that he’d had inappropriate “sexually related” contact with them, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said.
The school is run by Bible Missionary Baptist Church and is on the same Old Concord Road property. When church officials confronted the 59-year-old Kesler about the allegations, he went outside and took his own life.
Rowan County Sheriff’s Capt. John Sifford said it’s not clear when church officials learned of the allegations, but they had not notified law enforcement prior to Kesler’s suicide.
Sifford said as far as he knows, the church is cooperating with law enforcement. He also said Kesler’s wife Sherry, who was also a house parent at City of Refuge, didn’t appear to be involved.
Investigators want to make sure there are no other possible victims, he said.

ROCKWELL — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations that a local boarding school house parent who committed suicide last week had inappropriate physical contact with children there.
Danny Ray Kesler, 59, was a house parent at City of Refuge Christian School, part of Bible Missionary Baptist Church on Old Concord Road.
According to authorities, church officials confronted Kesler about the allegations involving victims in their early teens around 4 p.m. on Feb. 13. Kesler put his coat on and said he was going outside for fresh air. He was found a short time later on the church property with a gunshot wound to his head.
“At this time, it would appear that Danny Kesler died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound following the meeting at the church,” the statement from the Sheriff’s Office said.
Before taking his own life, the statement said, Kesler told church officials he was sorry for what he had done but that he was not going back to prison.
Kesler has previous convictions for possession of marijuana, soliciting the sale of cocaine, driving while impaired, injury to personal property, probation violation, disorderly conduct, violation of court order, (felonious) forgery of instrument, and common law forgery.
The church’s website lists Kesler and wife Sherry as house parents at the school, located on the same property as the church at 11360 Concord Road.
The first child attended the school in February 2000. However, the church broke ground in March 1997.
The church and its pastor, the Rev. Buddy Hoffner, are not without controversy. In 2002, allegations surfaced of physical and sexual assault of children there, but no charges were filed. Hoffner denied any such abuse occurred.
A Post reporter contacted Bible Missionary Baptist Church for comment. A man who answered the phone declined comment.

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