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  Home :: 2006 December :: Charges against NN pastor dropped,0,5843974.story?coll=dp-news-local-final

Charges against NN pastor dropped

The preacher was accused of failing to report possible sexual assault of a minor.

NEWPORT NEWS -- A judge on Wednesday dismissed charges against alongtime Newport News pastor who was accused of failing to reportsexual abuse of three young girls by a man in his congregation.

Prosecutorsagreed to drop charges against the Rev. Floyd Blackwell, pastor of theMiracle Temple Baptist Church on 32nd Street, after he attended atraining program on detecting and reporting child abuse.

StephaniePass, a commonwealth's attorney in Chesapeake who prosecuted the caseon behalf of Newport News, said she was pleased with the outcome of thecase.

Blackwell was arrested nearly a year ago and charged withobstructing justice and contributing to the delinquency of a minorafter he was accused of staying silent about a 19-year-old parishionerwho had for years been sexually assaulting three girls, ages 7, 8 and 9.

Policeinvestigating that crime learned that a relative of the 19-year-old hadtold Blackwell about the alleged abuse. Blackwell reportedlydiscouraged the relative from calling police, saying he would handle itwithin the church, police said.

Pass said child abuse reportingrequirements may not be well understood by clergy, and Blackwell'sarrest was an opportunity for him and others to learn what's expected.Anyone in a professional position of authority over children isrequired to report serious abuse, according to the Virginia Departmentof Social Services. That includes teachers, social workers, doctors,nurses, day-care workers and clergy.

"I was satisfied, and thejudge was as well, that he had taken this seriously, and hopefullyit'll turn into something positive for the Peninsula," Pass said. "Hebothered to educate himself, and he has shared that information."

Blackwell'sattorney did not return a phone call seeking comment. Pass said shethought the case would lead to better reporting in the future.

"Itbenefits children when we educate those who are best able to help them.I think that's what happened," Pass said. "I was satisfied this was notsomething that was ever going to happen again (at Blackwell's church)."

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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia