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Four Oaks pastor accused of raping teen 6 years ago

Facing multiple sex abuse charges...

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The Daily Record of Dunn

FOUR OAKS- A Johnston County pastor is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl over a year's span that began in 2013.

Rev. Stephen Arthur Morris, 61, was arraigned Monday morning on multiple sex abuse charges in Johnston County Superior Court. Senior Assistant District Attorney, Paul Jackson is prosecuting the case. 

"The Johnston County Sherff's Office has been working directly with my Senior Assistant District Attorney, Paul Jackson, on this case since this is his area of expertise," said District Attorney Susan Doyle. "He handles all sexual assault cases and as such, is the advisor to law enforcement in these matters."

Attempts via phone and e-mail to reach out to Jackson weren't immediately returned.  Morris was assigned a public defender.

According to Johnston County Sheriff's Office and Johnston County Superior Court records, Morris, pastor of Oliver's Grove Baptist Church on U.S. Highway 301 in Four Oaks was arrested Friday on five counts of felony statutory rape/sex offense and five counts of indecent liberties with a child.

The charges stem from accusations he had engaged in sexual acts with a teenage girl between June 2013 and June 2014. At the time, the victim, who reported the incidents to authorities last month, was 13 years old. She is now 19.

The arrest warrant, obtained from the Johnston County Clerk of Court's Office, stated the arresting officer felt there was probable cause for each alleged office.

Johnston County Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Caldwell said the investigation by the Johnston County Sheriff's Office began on June 28 when the alleged victim report it. That led to Morris' arrest at his home on Parkertown Road Friday afternoon, said Caldwell.

Because the case involved a juvenile, authorities are not disclosing any other details about how the victim and her suspected abuser were acquainted.

During his court appearance Monday morning, Morris was told to appear in court again on July 25. He is currently being held under a $2.5 million secured bond in the Johnston County Detention Center.

Attempts to call the church and denominational leaders for comment were unsuccessful and the website for the church listed on its Facebook page was no longer working Monday afternoon.