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Florida SBC Pastor Charged With Sexually Assaulting Minor

Monte Lavelle Chitty is accused of drugging and assaulting a 15-year-old girl

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Just two weeks after the Southern Baptist Convention announced a new sexual abuse prevention and response curriculum for member congregations, new allegations have rocked a small SBC church in the Florida Keys.

Monte Lavelle Chitty, 62, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marathon, has been charged with sexual assault, lewd lascivious behavior and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office news release said a 15-year-old girl accused the married pastor of sexually molesting her after serving her spiked alcohol at the church. A subsequently released arrest report detailed that the alleged victim “felt weak, could not walk and eventually lost consciousness” before waking up to Chitty touching her genitals.

“She stated after he was done and left, she got up and ran out and contacted her grandmother to pick her up,” the arrest report said.

Police were first alerted by an anonymous caller claiming to have heard the girl tell an adult she had been raped. Then they received a second call — from the alleged rapist.

“Chitty said he believed he was about to be accused of something and he wanted to get ahead of it,” said MCSO spokesperson Becky Herrin. “He said a young girl at his church had been drinking and had passed out on a couch in the library of the church. He said he helped her to lie down on the couch but did not touch her after that.”

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However, police found text messages between Chitty and the girl that seemed to corroborate her story. The graphic messages, described in the arrest report, referenced the sexual encounter and the girl’s unconscious state and included compliments of her body parts.

Police said Chitty “admitted to sending the text messages but later invoked his right to an attorney and denied the sexual contact.”

Chitty, who Herrin also described as a “registered volunteer with the Sheriff’s Office,” was arrested Monday, March 4, the day after the alleged assault, and released that night on a $75,000 bond.

As of Wednesday, First Baptist Church of Marathon had not released a statement on its website or social media regarding the allegations.

Main photo: Monte Lavelle Chitty / Screengrab via Local 10

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Why does MinistryWatch report on sex crimes? These stories are tough to read and sometimes even tougher to report, but we think they are vital to our mission to bring transparency, accountability, and credibility to the evangelical church. To read more about why and how we report these stories, read “Why MinistryWatch Reports On Sex Crimes.” You can find that story here.


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