Neighbors shocked at evangelical worker's arrest - - Columbia, South Carolina

Neighbors shocked at evangelical worker's arrest

Eric Vancleave (Source: Lexington County Sheriff's Department) Eric Vancleave (Source: Lexington County Sheriff's Department)

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Neighbors are speaking out about a West Columbia man accused of sexually abusing four boys.

Eric Vancleave, 32, was arrested Friday night on 16 counts of sexual abuse.

People who live close to Vancleave, like Crystal Baier, say they cannot believe it.

"To find out about this is absolutely a shocker," said Baier.

Sheriff James Metts says Vancleave enticed the boys by taking them camping. He says some of the assaults happened at the Barnyard RV Park.

Metts believes there are more victims.

"This is a very involved ongoing investigation that is going to be huge and I believe before it's all concluded," said Metts.

Vancleave is a substitute teacher with Lexington District 2. He's been suspended while the charges are investigated. He also volunteered in several ministries at Mt. Horeb United Methodist church.

The church also suspended him and released this statement:

"The local news is reporting the arrest of Eric Vancleave for certain alleged crimes. Under our judicial system, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and that is the case here too. Nevertheless the allegations are serious and are of concern to us because since August 2009, Mr. Vancleave has been a member of our church and volunteered for various ministries. Under our church's Children and Youth Protection Policy, all volunteers in this ministry must complete Children and Youth Protection training and pass a background check. He completed that training and passed the background check. Pending the current charges, though, his volunteer status has been suspended. Based on the news reports, the allegations against him date back several years ago. To be very clear, we are not aware of any allegations involving our church or our children or youth. If you have any allegations or questions, please contact Debra Roof, the leader of our Children and Youth Protection program, or the sheriff. Also, please be in prayer for all those involved."

Vancleave will remain in the Lexington County detention center for now, but Crystal Baier worries that he'll eventually get out.

"When it comes to him living down the street from me, no, if he gets out and gets back down there I'm definitely moving to a different area," said Baier.

We tried to speak to Vancleave's family today, but they did not answer the door at their home.

When we spoke with neighbors that knew Vancleave, they said they were shocked at his arrest. They described him as a good neighbor.

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