Arrest warrants detail alleged sex abuse by former church leader

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - Seven arrest warrants allege that 62-year-old Dennis Rutledge sexually molested two young girls during a period of about five months.

Each warrant describes what investigators said is a different incident with the girls, one age 10, the other 8.

The warrants accuse Rutledge of both sexually touching the two girls and exposing himself. The incidents allegedly happened between June and November of last year.

Lancaster County Sheriff's deputies said most of the incidents happened in Rutledge's TV repair shop, behind his home on John Everall Road.

The pastor of Rutledge's church told Channel 9 that it was last June when the former deacon and choir director stopped coming to church.

The pastor said Rutledge resigned and did not give a reason.

Grady Deese and Judy Deese have known him for many years.

"It was a total shock to me," said Judy Deese, who also lives two doors down from their long-time friend.

"He's been our neighbor for 34 years and I've always thought he was a man of utmost integrity," she said.

Her husband, Grady Deese, served with Rutledge in their church.

"We went to church together for a number of years. We were deacons together," he said. "I don't know what's going on."

Channel 9 attempted to speak with a member of Rutledge's family on Monday afternoon, but no one answered the door.

Sheriff's deputies said they are still investigating, but at this time they don't expect to make more arrests or file more charges.

Bond has been denied for Rutledge, but if a bond is eventually set he is banned from the places where the alleged victims live, as well as schools and their church.

His pastor said the church is praying for everyone involved.

His first court appearance is set for March 7.