Florence pastor charged with sexual abuse

Coty Hand, the Assistant District Attorney in Lauderdale County, says they want anyone who thinks they were a victim to come forward.

Posted: Jul 1, 2019 3:43 PM
Updated: Jul 2, 2019 6:01 PM

A Florence pastor, John Martin, is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on four counts of sexual abuse first-degree.

Coty Hand, the Assistant District Attorney in Lauderdale County, says Martin resigned as pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church and was arrested Friday night. He says they want anyone who thinks they were a victim to come forward.

John Martin

WAAY 31 was in Florence and spoke with people who live near the church. We learned John Martin confessed to his congregation about the crimes. 

According to the Lighthouse Baptist Church website, Martin has been preaching there since 2010. WAAY 31 reached out to several congregation members to ask about these accusations, but we have not gotten a response. 

A man who lives less than a block away from the church, Lewis Gist, said he had no idea something like this could have been going on down the street.

"You wouldn't expect it at a church. That would be the last place you expect it," Gist said.

The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office says they believe the victims involved were children at the church. They would not say the ages, gender or how many victims they believe there are.

The sheriff's office did say the four charges against Martin could be all for one victim or for multiple victims, and the charges are for any child under 17 years old. His bond is set at $60,000.

The church's Facebook page shows out of 25 reviews, it has a 4.8 out of 5 rating. In one review, a woman said, "Pastor Martin I love you and your family. Thank you for making me and my children feel loved and welcome."

On Monday, someone commented on that review saying, "I hope your children were safe there."

The woman who wrote the review said they always were and went on to say she felt bad for Martin's wife and children.

WAAY 31 stopped by Martin's home and was asked to leave immediately. We combed through state court records and could not find a past criminal history for Martin. 

"My youngest grandson is 15. Something like that happened to him, I don't know what I'd do," Gist said.

Huntsville
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 52°
Florence
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 56°
Fayetteville
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 52°
Scottsboro
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 55°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 241957

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31809500
Mobile19651361
Madison12964148
Tuscaloosa12946154
Montgomery12263236
Shelby1016177
Baldwin857698
Lee771866
Morgan648050
Calhoun6215119
Etowah618266
Marshall618255
Houston522438
DeKalb480436
Cullman433442
Limestone418645
St. Clair413655
Elmore403764
Lauderdale396754
Walker3620111
Talladega347954
Jackson311723
Colbert306042
Blount287940
Autauga270442
Franklin250233
Coffee242015
Dale231754
Dallas225232
Russell22123
Chilton220638
Covington218034
Escambia197931
Chambers176450
Tallapoosa175491
Pike158114
Clarke157619
Marion137136
Winston131123
Lawrence126336
Pickens121618
Geneva12108
Marengo120224
Barbour117010
Bibb117017
Butler115341
Randolph101921
Cherokee101024
Hale96031
Clay91024
Washington90719
Fayette89316
Henry8526
Lowndes79429
Monroe78311
Cleburne76914
Macon73022
Crenshaw70930
Bullock69419
Conecuh68314
Perry6836
Lamar6678
Wilcox63118
Sumter57522
Greene42318
Choctaw42113
Coosa3414
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 352376

Reported Deaths: 4519
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby46549658
Davidson41460419
Knox18183146
Rutherford17212159
Hamilton16369152
Williamson1092178
Sumner9412136
Wilson720078
Out of TN703551
Montgomery637483
Sullivan624996
Putnam577482
Washington5751106
Maury567868
Blount531960
Madison5212108
Bradley501435
Sevier473831
Unassigned460222
Robertson364652
Tipton356638
Hamblen338360
Dyer314751
Gibson311965
Greene295372
Dickson281033
Anderson280628
Coffee271541
Bedford264330
Carter260655
Lawrence260034
Obion258349
Cumberland247035
McMinn239255
Warren228219
Roane227429
Loudon223018
Hardeman222937
Jefferson220832
Fayette217738
Weakley211336
Monroe205644
Lauderdale201523
Franklin200834
Trousdale189912
Hawkins187534
Wayne187010
Henderson180633
Macon178728
Hardin174125
White170218
Marshall167920
Carroll166834
Haywood160230
Rhea160131
Cocke158330
Lincoln154914
Cheatham152817
Overton152535
Campbell151523
Henry148917
Giles140949
Smith140619
Johnson140521
McNairy138533
Fentress118620
Lake11636
Bledsoe11485
Hickman114618
Crockett112826
DeKalb110922
Marion106219
Scott10227
Chester100520
Grainger94716
Decatur93313
Unicoi82426
Claiborne7889
Benton77714
Grundy75614
Lewis73614
Cannon7253
Union7045
Morgan6956
Humphreys6819
Jackson67110
Polk64515
Houston58220
Stewart58015
Clay53818
Sequatchie5085
Perry47321
Meigs46913
Moore3833
Pickett38313
Van Buren3472
Hancock1553

Community Events