Assistant Pastor Charged With Child Sexual Battery

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — Authorities in Polk County have charged an associate pastor with five counts of sexual battery of a child.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says detectives arrested 40-year-old Arnold Maurice Mathis on Saturday.

Investigators say the victim, who is now 21, contacted deputies on Friday to report several incidents of sexual battery over two months in 2005. He told detectives he had met Mathis at a basketball game when he was 14 and that the Winter Haven man offered to help him financially.

Mathis told detectives he was a senior pastor at a Winter Haven church in 2005 and is the current assistant pastor of the Higher Praise Ministries in Lake Wales.

A message left at the church’s telephone listing was not immediately returned.

Source: Associated Press