BESSEMER CITY, N.C.,None — A Bessemer City pastor was found guilty of two counts of sexual battery Tuesday.
Harley Michael Keough, 73, is the pastor of King James Baptist Church in Bessemer City. His trial began Monday.
VIDEO: Local Pastor Found Guilty Of Sexual Battery
Several women testified against Keough Monday, accusing him of groping them when they came to the church for help.
Keough took the stand Tuesday and denied touching the women inappropriately. He said some of the women were angry because of misunderstandings of his mission
"In our church we frequently hug," he said. "We are a loving church."
Keough will not go to prison. He was given 18 months probation and has to register as a sex offender and provide a DNA sample as often as he is asked.
He said he plans on continuing work at the Bessemer City church despite the fact that he must register as a sex offender. Legally, he can continue to act as a pastor, but not within 300 feet of a church with a nursery or daycare.
After the verdict was announced, Keough, who still denies the charges, took Channel 9 into the area of the church where his victims said he took advantage of him.
"This is what we do for the needy," he said, referencing the food the church gives away.
Now, Keough said no one will donate to help keep the mission going.
"All these people were are not going to be able to feed, now it's on their hands," he said.
Keough still faces eight other charges. The prosecutor said she plans to talk to the other alleged victims to determine if those cases will go to court.
© 2020 WSOC