Pastor apologizes after remarks during sermon about sexual assault

MONROE, N.C. — A decades-long pastor at a church in Monroe apologized after facing backlash for comments he made during a sermon about sexual assault victims.

The Rev. Bobby Leonard, at Bible Baptist Tabernacle Church on Walkup Avenue, said last summer that women make themselves targets for sexual assault based on how they dress.

“You will find more women in those places with shorts than you will women with pants and dresses put together,” Leonard said during the summer sermon. “If you dress like that and you get raped and I’m on the jury, he’s going to go free .. because you know, a man is a man. A man is a man.”

Ben Rudy, a former member, was in front of the church protesting Wednesday night.

“It broke my heart that he would say something like that,” Rudy told Channel 9′s Glenn Counts on Thursday.

Jason King, who has taught Sunday School at various churches in the area, has also protested against Leonard.

“Rape is wrong and I don’t care if a woman is walking around,” King said. “You in the nude. It’s still not right and it’s still a man’s choice whether he does wrong or right.”

There was a message on the church sign Thursday night. It was Leonard apologizing.

“I am sorry for any hurt,” it read. “I was wrong.”

“I think that sign is headed in a good direction,” King said. “I think that’s the start of a good direction, but people want to hear it. They want to hear it out of his mouth.”

Rudy doesn’t think Leonard should leave.

“I think the congregation if they love him like they say they do, let him repent and let him go in the pulpit and apologize to the congregation and to the community,” Rudy said.

Both men were disappointed that church leadership didn’t take action sooner.

“I was stunned, to be honest with you,” Rudy said.

Counts asked church officials if he wanted to go on camera but he was told no and that officials would be releasing an additional statement.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-HOPE.

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