Columbia pastor hit with more criminal sexual conduct charges

Columbia pastor hit with more criminal sexual conduct charges

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia pastor has received additional charges following his arrest on criminal sexual conduct charges on Monday.

Walter C. Ballenger III, is now charged with two counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct on top of his third degree criminal sexual conduct charge, police said.

Columbia police received information about the possible misconduct on June 27 involving two females under the age of 12.

According to reports, the incidents occurred at a Columbia home, Grace United Methodist Church and one additional event at a Red Roof motel in Florence.

Ballenger has been suspended from all ministerial duties, Grace United Methodist Church said in a statement.

"This suspension is for the protection of all parties," the statement read.

Ballenger was arrested at Grace United Methodist Church on July 13 and was taken to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. He posted a $100,000 bond in July after paying a percentage of that total amount.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Grace United Methodist Church has a Safe Sanctuary-Child Abuse Policy, which is an 11-page document that states two adults should be present at all times when dealing with the children and youth.

"This is something that has shocked all of us. Obviously the congregation at United Methodist Church has been shaken but their faith has not," Matt Brodie, church communications director said.

The church held a vigil Thursday night in response to the arrest.

"We are a family and a community and nothing's really change as far as our worship and love for Jesus," church member Kim Neel said.

Neel and other members say they will continue to keep a strong faith.

"The sinners are God's favorite people and that's who we've been led to disciple," Neel said.

CPD is encouraging any possible victims or anyone with info about the case to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.