China Grove pastor accused of assaulting three women

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

CHINA GROVE — A local pastor is expected in court this week to face assault charges after he was accused of inappropriately touching three women in his congregation. Most of the incidents reported occurred at the church, the victims said.

Private warrants were sought against Gene Edwards, 71, of the 5800 block of Self Road, Kannapolis, on Aug. 2 and Aug. 18 for misdemeanor assault on a female. He is expected in district court Thursday.

Edwards is pastor of Genesis Baptist Church on Old Concord Road in China Grove. A call to Edwards’ home and request for comment was refused.

A 51-year-old Mooresville woman took her complaint to the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office Aug. 1, where she said the incident occurred April 1, 2015, at her then China Grove home. In an application for criminal process, the woman said Edwards offered to bring her a plate from the fish camp. He arrived at her home with a man who was a church member. The church member sat in the car.

Edwards and the woman made small talk, and on his way out the door he “hugged me longer and harder than normal,” the statement said.

He pressed against the sides of the woman’s breasts with his hands, according to the statement. She said she felt very uncomfortable.

In a second complaint, the woman said sometime around Feb. 1, at the church, the pastor called her to his office. They talked a short while and then he “put his arms out to get a hug.”

She hugged him back, but he seemed to hug her a lot longer and harder, she said. Then he started moaning and she backed away. She told him goodbye and left the building.

The statement also said she tried to push away from him and back up, but he continued to get closer.

A second victim, a 75-year-old Kannapolis woman, said she was inappropriately touched in August 2015. She filed her complaint through the magistrate’s office also on Aug. 1, around the same time as the Mooresville woman.

The Kannapolis woman said the assault occurred at the church. She said she and Edwards exchanged greetings, he wanted a hug and then another one. She told him he had a hug and then he hugged her again. She tried to free herself from his grasp. He “would not let me go,” she said, and tried to kiss her.

She said afterward she decided she would never again be alone with him.

A third victim, a 67-year-old China Grove woman, said an incident occurred June 15 at the church. She and Edwards were in the pastor’s office, she said, when he got up from behind his desk. He hugged her and tried to kiss her on the mouth. She told her husband and wrote a letter to Edwards. She threatened to leave the church, and the pastor asked her not to leave and said he would never do it again.

She said she gave him the benefit of the doubt, but then someone else came forward so she knew he had not changed. She filed her complaint through the magistrate’s office on Aug. 18.

None of the women contacted law enforcement, the criminal process forms show. All of the complaints were made through private warrants obtained at the magistrate’s office.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.