published Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Chattanooga youth pastor accused of statutory rape with teen boy

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    Ronnie Powe, Jr. is accused of aggravated statutory rape involving a 15-year-old after the two met on a dating web site. Powe reportedly performed of sex act on the teen, according to police reports.

Sitting in the lobby of the Hamilton County Jail, Ronnie Powe Sr. held his head in his hands Wednesday after hearing news of his son's aggravated rape charge.

"I don't know anything," said Powe Sr., the pastor at United Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. His son, Ronnie Powe Jr., 27, is a youth pastor at the church.

Powe Jr. is accused of performing a sex act on a 15-year-old boy and masturbating in a car behind the abandoned East Lake Elementary School on Tuesday night, according to Chattanooga Police Department reports.

When police approached the car, Powe Jr. identified himself as a youth minister at the church and said he was talking to one of his troubled students, according to reports.

Officers asked Powe Jr. to step out of the vehicle. When he did, they noticed his pants zipper was down and he could not explain why, the reports stated.

The teen told officers he met Powe Jr. on an online gay dating website and they had decided to meet in person. Powe Jr. picked him up at his home, the teen told police.

Powe Jr. at first denied having sexual contact with the teen, but later admitted to performing oral sex on him, according to reports.

He posted a $3,500 bond Wednesday afternoon and declined to comment while in jail. When approached by jail officials about an interview request, he began to cry.

Powe Jr. is working on a middle-school education degree, according to family members.

His father said he was in shock over the allegations.

"Had we known what he was involved in, we would have sat him down," said Powe Sr., who oversees the 125-member church at 2418 Dodson Ave. "We teach against homosexuality."

Powe Sr. said the teenager was not a member of the church.

Despite the charges against his son, he did not express concern about his son's interaction with younger members of the congregation.

"We monitor that type of thing," he said.

Powe Jr. is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Feb. 21 before Judge Clarence Shattuck. If convicted, he could face two to four years in prison.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfree or 423-757-6406.

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Seriously? Look at this quote: "We teach against homosexuality." Hmmmmm...this from the pastor/father of the 27 year old man who is charged. Perhaps their teachings don't work? Perhaps those teachings just don't combat human nature. Maybe if these congregations spent more time loving and recognizing their gay congregants, their gay congregants could be comfortable engaging in meaningful relationships they could be proud of, rather than engaging in this type of activity.

February 17, 2011 at 1:42 a.m.
u4icmusic said...

The church teaching against homosexuality is like the church teaching against being black or being a woman. All three are things you are born with, period. You are born black. You are born female and you are born gay or straight. The churches outdated and repressive teachings about homosexuality are causing hatred and bigotry as well as many gay teen suicides. That is way church memberships nationwide are continuing thier decline. AMEN!

February 17, 2011 at 5:14 a.m.
hcirehttae said...

I don't wish to pile on. This family and this church has a bit of sorting out to do, to say the least. Perhaps they'll come out of it with a more tolerant attitude toward homosexuality; I hope so.

However, the pastor's quotation above points up a gap in human behavior, a flaw in human nature. People in authority think they can "monitor" behavior that arises out of a person's deep nature and yearnings -- and they CAN'T! Inevitably, they develop blind spots, as is clearly true in this case. "Oh, that can't possibly mean what it suggests; I wouldn't believe that for a minute of (insert name here). After all, his father's the pastor."

Realistically, a 27 year old man cannot be "monitored" 24 hours a day if he has all his faculties. And you cannot "monitor" away the sexual drives that people have, no matter which way they're directed. They can only be handled by internalized self-control and appropriate outlets, i.e., same-age partners in a loving relationship.

February 17, 2011 at 7:24 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

We are talking about an alleged conduct of an adult with a minor here. That trumps any debate about the merits of acceptability of sexual orientation.

You talk about being born this way or that way...whatever the reason a person develops a preference in sexual orientation. One thing is certain, there is not a shred of scientific evidence supporting the idea it is a genetic, or inborn characteristic.

Ethical behavior, however sits in the same boat. One chooses, or desires to behave ethically in community, gay or straight, blue or red. If we condemned the church because its members stumbled in that effort to live by their ethics and never fail them, then we would have to condemn ourselves, in the church or outside the church.

I hope the mainline church is not dying, u4icmusic and KevinBinTennessee, because you aren't in it helping it grow.

February 17, 2011 at 7:30 a.m.
memphisexile said...

This isn't about being gay. This is about a pedophile having sexual relations with an underage boy. This same person is a youth pastor with unlimited access to other children and studying to get a degree in middle school education. I wonder what kind of pastor would still allow his son to have access to these children? Apparently the kind of idiot who thinks he can cure "being gay". This isn't about being gay, this is about a person in a position of authority using his position to prey on children.

February 17, 2011 at 8:54 a.m.
Veritas said...

All of the above comments are well thought out and constructive.

February 17, 2011 at 9:50 a.m.
Nina said...

That man should fry for touching that little boy but why is his parents letting him on a dating website!? Parents need to step up and see what their children are doing. I understand you can't hold their hand forever but pull your head out of the sand and focus on your children!

February 17, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

This is a recurring nightmare that has been coming to light more and more in recent years. Not just the catholics. A search online for "youth pastors" and abuse have alarming results.

These predators need to be incarcerated for the terror they bring upon these kids.

February 17, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
twharr said...

I don't understand how the homosexual struggles are the same as black and women stuggles. I don't get the comparison. Its a completely different movement. No matter what race or sex you are ALL people are discriminated against. I do believe some people are born gay, but I also beleive some people turn to homosexuality as they evolve in life. This young man has to answer for what he did. Its simple as that.

February 17, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

So when did twharr turn to heterosexuality?

February 17, 2011 at 11:34 a.m.
twharr said...

You're missing the point Geeeeeek, I mean eeeeeek. The point is people change as they evolve in life. Some things stay the same and some things change. I hated turnip greens as a kid, yet I love them now. I've been straight my entire life and that's not changing for sure. Get the point Geeeek?

February 17, 2011 at 2:06 p.m.
thedeltajew said...

how long has he been preaching against homosexuals and child molesters as a youth pastor?????? lucky the police rolled up on him,cause if any of the folks in the hood knew they would not tell the police because of the "no snitch rule"that is in effect indefinatly threw out the hood.even when black kids get abused mentally,physically and sexually,they are taught to not "snitch" cause "snitchs get stiths".alot more of this goes on than everybody knows,its just kept quite!wonder what the rumor mongers in the hood are gonna do with the truth???since they are so busy spreading lies and rumors on innocent folks?

February 17, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.
drelove said...

I read a lot of the comments what nagges at me is this so called child that is 15 years old was on a guy dating line frist off when do we allow for a child to take acountabily for their own actions ,this man did not tie him down or bound him in any way.The youth did not call out for help in any way either their was no promble untill the cops ask questions.We can not blame the church for human acts for if the youth pastor was perfect then who is JESUS and why did he come and did all that HE did.Just saying.

February 17, 2011 at 3:52 p.m.
B_Truthful said...

thedeltajews: "child molesters as a youth pastor?????? lucky the police rolled up on him,cause if any of the folks in the hood knew they would not tell the police because of the "no snitch rule""

That "don't snitch rule" exist in the 'burbs too, delta , and is infact most prevalent within police departments. Just ask any cop what happens when he tries to out a fellow bad cop.

The greatest cover any abuser has is a position of authority where he or she will be believed over his or her victim. There's a wide range of such positions out there. From preachers, teachers, cops and the list goes on. You'd most likely have been the first to call the young teen from the hood a liar if he'd come to you for help.

February 17, 2011 at 6:55 p.m.
Echo said...

10 Free Explanations for Ronnie Jr.

  1. Really?! I thought he was 18.
  2. I was looking for God in his pants.
  3. This is my interpretation of Matthew 7:12
  4. Hey, at least it wasn't a white girl.
  5. I keep my bible in my BVDs
  6. What happens in East Lake, stays in East Lake.
  7. I'm trying to get a scholarship from NAMBLA.
  8. Reality T.V. show - "Twinks for Jesus"
  9. It's too easy being gay and black in the South so I thought I'd take on "kiddie diddler" just to keep it real.
  10. My dad is a phony A-hole and this was the best way I could get him back.
February 20, 2011 at 12:29 a.m.
Quetta said...

I am well aware of the act that was committed and no I don't agree with what was done. As a role model for Christ we are to walk in the image of him. We are human being an as humans we sometimes fail to always walk in the Image of the Lord that's why he gave us Repentence. The word of God says"HE WITHOUT SIN BE THE FIRST TO THROW A STONE"(JOHN 8:7).Man don't have a heaven or hell to put him in. HE has to answer to the Lord for what he has done.The best thing we can do is pray for him. I understand that it is everyone's own opinion so I am just giving mines don't get an attitude or defensive I am just telling what the word of God says!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 20, 2011 at 12:37 a.m.
kbroken said...

Pastors can no more raise christians than anyone else. Each person upon reaching age of reasoning makes his or her on choice whether or not they will follow God or not. Quetta is correct in saying that prayer is the only hope for this pastor and his son. What this young man has done, if indeed quilty is sin, but no greater sin than any other. Unrepented sins will keep you from the kingdom of God. Let's not tar and feather him until he has his day in court. And for sure lets not put his sins on his Father.

February 20, 2011 at 2:07 a.m.
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