A youth minister at a Wilson County church has been indicted on charges of raping three young children. A grand jury indicted Tavaria Merritt on Thursday of nine counts of rape of a child. Sheriff's department investigators said the 18-year-old served as a youth minister at True Vine Church in Lebanon. They said the charges stem from incidents involving three boys, two 11 year olds and one 10 year old.
In his three years as a youth minister at a small Gainesville church, Phillip Glenn Terrell won over the trust of the tight-knit congregation that treated him like family. But by repeatedly molesting the teenage son of one of the church members, Terrell not only left the boy emotionally scarred, but hastened the demise of Emmanuel Baptist Church. On Friday, Terrell, 38, pleaded guilty to molesting the boy, then 14, at two Forsyth County locations in 2006. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The red brick church on Atlanta Highway, where 50 or 60 parishioners gathered each Sunday at the time of Terrell’s April 2007 arrest, now sits empty.... Terrell was previously charged with child molestation in 2001, when he was a guard at a juvenile detention center in Paulding County. He was acquitted of the charge in a bench trial when the alleged victim was unable to identify him in court. Church officials were unaware of the prior molestation charge when they hired him to handle youth programs in 2003.
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