*Despite accusations and evidence of him being inappropriate with and molesting an underage girl he was privately counseling, the status of a South Side Chicago pastor remains untouched as he continues preaching.
The Daily Beast reports that the Rev. George Waddles Sr. pleaded not guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The charge is a felony that comes attached with a possible seven-year prison sentence. Waddles is noted for being the pastor of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church for the last 29 years. The church includes a membership of 200.
Cook County, IL. prosecutors detailed the 67-year-old reverend’s relationship with the alleged victim, saying he has known her since she was a toddler and started counseling her in private sessions from age 13 to 15. Within a year, Waddles, who holds a master’s degree in social work, allegedly became “inappropriate” with the young girl who was not named because she is a minor.
Between 2012 and 2014, prosecutors allege Waddles asked the girl to lift her shirt, which she refused. In addition, the pastor tried to kiss the girl at the end of counseling sessions, prosecutors added.
In 2014, the situation came to a head when Waddles allegedly asked the then-15-year-old girl to sit on his lap, and he put his hand inside her pants and underwear. A month later, the girl told her mother. Together, the pair reportedly confronted Waddles in his office, then met with him and his wife, Karen Waddles, later.
The meeting allegedly resulted in an admission from Waddles concerning the inappropriate touching as well as his request for the girl and her mother to not go to the police. Unknown to him, prosecutors say, the meeting and admission were secretly recorded by the girl’s mother.
Although strict laws regulating the recording of public conversations exist in Illinois, the Daily Beast mentioned that criteria for an exception to the law might be found with
Waddles’ taped confession.
The young girl and her mother aren’t the only ones who have come forward about Waddles. In September, prosecutor Tara Pease-Harkin revealed during a hearing that two other women had made claims of being victims of Waddles’ abuse. According to one accuser, there were unwanted hugs and kisses in 1996 when she was 11. The woman added that during that time, Waddles made her touch his penis. The other woman Pease-Harkin referenced claimed that he tried to hug and kiss her during office counseling session in 2006, and wouldn’t allow her to leave his office.
Prosecutors noted that Waddles turned himself into police on Sept. 29, 2015, and made “a positive disclosure” to detectives consistent with the young girl’s story.
Although a judge allowed Waddles to continue to perform his duties as pastor after his release from jail, he added that Waddles could not have any contact with anyone under could have the age of 18 without another adult present.
The young girl’s family spoke on the aftermath of them bringing Waddles to justice, telling the Chicago Tribune they had been shunned by their former congregation and were receiving weekly intimidation phone calls.
The reaction comes as Waddles remains in the pulpit amid invitations he’s received to speak at other churches, The Tribune acknowledged that Waddles did speak on Easter Sunday this year.