HERTFORD — A Baptist association in North Carolina is standing by a camp director indicted July 13 on two counts of engaging in sexual activities with a child.
Police arrested Stephen Wayne Carter, director of Cale Retreat and Conference Center in Hertford July 1 on charges of taking indecent liberties with a child and first-degree sex offense involving a child. He was released from jail on $80,000 bond.
Carter, 50, has directed the Christian camp operated by Chowan Baptist Association since 2002. Rob Roberts, association missionary, said Carter remains employed as camp director but has voluntarily left the camp until the matter is resolved. The association is a group of mostly rural Baptist churches in the northeastern part of the state.
“Chowan Baptist Association stands firmly behind Steve and we are confident of his innocence,” Roberts wrote in an e-mail to the Perquimans Weekly newspaper shortly after the arrest. “Steve remains away from the Cale Retreat and Conference Center campus but continues to receive full salary and benefits. Our hearts go out to Steve and his family during this very difficult time. We are praying for everyone connected with this situation.”
Carter, who recently celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary, told a local television station the allegations against him are untrue.
Neither Carter nor Roberts responded to e-mails requesting additional comment. Carter is still listed as Cale’s director on the association’s website. Roberts told local media that Baptist leaders were cooperating with police.
According to the camp web site, Carter and his wife, Grayce, who works as assistant director, are former missionaries who worked as church planters in Central America.
Wendy Norvelle, associate vice president for mobilization at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Carter served from 1997 to 2001 in Belize through a short-term mission program called International Service Corps.
Norvelle said the IMB has a zero-tolerance policy regarding child sexual abuse, and that leaders began the process of notifying children and parents who may have had contact with Carter when they read a newspaper report about his indictment July 13. She added that local Baptist leaders would also be notified so they could follow up with children.
Norvelle said all IMB personnel, including volunteers, are required to complete training in both prevention and detection of child sexual abuse. Background checks and references are also required. She said the board also maintains a 24-hour hotline that anyone can use to report any allegation of child abuse involving IMB personnel.
“Prior to July 14, 2009, IMB leadership was not aware of any allegation of child sexual abuse by Mr. Carter either prior to, during, or after his service with IMB,” she said.
According to media reports, Carter is not being allowed to enter the Camp Cale property or have contact with any child under 18 except his own. The Carters have a 20-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)