The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, April 20, 2009
Baptist minister arrested on sex abuse; Support group responds
Statement by Christa Brown of Austin, TX, Baptist Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (512-217-1730 cell)
The music minister of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was arrested and charged with sexual abuse by force.
We urge this historic church to set an example for other Baptist churches by (1) publicly pleading for anyone with relevant information to contact the police, and (2) proactively reaching out to any other possible victims with an offer of independent counseling.
Rarely do sexual predators strike only once. So we believe there could be others who may have been hurt by this Baptist minister.
We hope that anyone who saw, suspected, or suffered any questionable misdeeds by this minister will call police immediately. When victims and witnesses speak up, there is a chance for justice, healing and prevention. But when victims and witnesses stay silent, predators often walk free and kids get hurt.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse survivors. We've been around since 1988 and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our websites: SNAPnetwork.org and StopBaptistPredators.org.)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Christa Brown (512-217-1730 cell), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell)
Huffman band director arrested on sexual abuse charges
Huffman High School's band director was arrested today and charged with sexual abuse by force and sodomy.
Patrick Jerome Whitehead of Pinson, who is also minister of music at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, was taken to the Jefferson County Jail this afternoon and released about 6 p.m. after posting $75,000 bond, according to jail records.
Birmingham school board member Virginia Volker confirmed the case involves a Huffman student. Interim Superintendent Barbara Allen signed the paperwork today to put Whitehead on leave immediately, Volker said.
"We are deeply saddened by the allegation against our minister of music, Patrick Whitehead," Rev. Arthur Price Jr., pastor of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church , said tonight. "Mr. Whitehead has been a very valuable asset to our church family, and we are devastated by this situation. We are not quick to rush to judgment, but we are committed to praying for him and his family and all parties involved as we anticipate a just resolution to the matter through our legal system."
Whitehead has worked at Huffman High since at least 2002, according to previous News articles.
In a 2001 interview, Whitehead said he had worked at North Roebuck Elementary and as pool manager during the summers at Woodward Park in West End
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests