WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A youth minister at a Wilmington church was charged with indecent liberties with a child Thursday night.
According to online records, Tyler Simkus Smither was arrested in the 100 block of N. Fourth Street in Carolina Beach. His bond was set at $100,000.
The alleged victim is 11 years old and the incident took place in November, according to arrest warrants.
Officials with Harbor United Methodist Church said in a statement Friday morning that Smither’s employment at the church was immediately terminated.
The church’s full statement from Rev. Russell G. Nanney:
“As a church and denomination, we hold all staff members to the highest form of moral behavior, a behavior that is free of any sexual misconduct. We believe that all human beings have sacred worth because they are created in God’s image, and our behavior must reflect this belief at all times and places. This charge against Tyler Smither means that there is a possible betrayal of sacred trust, a possible exploitation of power against a minor, and a possible violation against God’s creation.
“As a church, we take any allegation of abuse very seriously. Providing a safe environment for everyone at our church is our absolute highest priority. When we learned of these charges, we immediately terminated Tyler Smither’s employment at Harbor United Methodist Church. In the meantime, we will cooperate fully with local law enforcement authorities during this investigation.
“This has been a difficult situation for everyone involved, including the members of the congregation, but especially for the family who came forth with the allegation. While the family was not connected to the church or to our community, you are invited to keep them in your prayers.
“It is out of our concern for those persons and for Tyler Smither’s due process rights that we are unable to discuss the details of the charges.”