Columbia pastor arrested in Florence, faces more criminal sexual - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Columbia pastor arrested in Florence, faces more criminal sexual conduct charges

Walter Ballenger (Source: Florence County Detention Center) Walter Ballenger (Source: Florence County Detention Center)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A Columbia pastor who was charged for multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct by Columbia Police was arrested by Florence Police on Thursday and now faces additional charges for an allegation that he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old in Florence in July.

Walter Ballenger was charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor by Florence Police on Thursday, and was arrested and booked into Florence County Detention Center. The charge stems from allegations that he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old while visiting Florence in July. The City of Florence Police Department would not elaborate on the specifics of Ballenger’s arrest to protect the identity of the 11-year-old victim.

Ballenger was also charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct by Columbia Police in July, in connection with information police received about possible misconduct on June 27.

Related Link: Columbia pastor hit with more criminal sexual conduct charges

After those charges, Ballenger was suspended from all ministerial duties at Grace United Methodist Church, according to a statement.

Grace United Methodist Church has a Safe Sanctuary-Child Abuse Policy, which is an 11-page document that states two adults should be present at all times when dealing with the children and youth.

"This is something that has shocked all of us. Obviously the congregation at United Methodist Church has been shaken but their faith has not," Matt Brodie, church communications director said to sister station WIS-TV in July.

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