Pastor charged with sexual battery

Paul Burke Johnson (Image courtesy Johnston County Sheriff's Office)

March 27, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
Benson Police Chief Kenneth Edwards said Monday that a church pastor is accused of sex offenses against a nursing home resident with diminished mental capacity.

Benson is about 30 miles south of Raleigh in Johnston County.

Seventy-four-year-old Paul Burke Johnson, the minister of Calvary Baptist Church in Dunn, is charged with four counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.

The alleged incidents took place at Liberty Commons Nursing Center, located at 2315 NC Highway 242 North in Benson.

According to Chief Edwards, Johnson had been visiting with residents of Liberty Commons for about 12 months. Johnson is accused of meeting and having repeated inappropriate sexual contact with a 64-year-old resident who suffers from diminished mental capacity. Edwards said the sexual conduct did not include intercourse, or any other act that would constitute a felony charge.

Edwards said Johnston admitted the incidents to a police lieutenant and is cooperating with the investigation.

According to an incident report obtained by ABC11, a nurse walked in on Johnson and the woman and reported what she saw.

Johnson told the investigating officer that the woman was flirtatious and often kissed and fondled him. He said he responded by fondling her breasts. Johnson said he knew the woman was "slow," but said he did not know her mental capacity.

The pastor was taken to the Johnston County Jail in Smithfield and placed under a $20,000 bond.

His next court date is set for May 6.

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