The former leader of the First Baptist Church in Bedford says an accused sex offender was already active in the church when he became pastor and that he didn’t learn about pending charges against the man of rape and sodomy of a minor until several months later.
“They had major issues I had discovered when I got there. ... If I had known all this, I would have never took that position.” Steve Knott told the Star-Telegram. “ I was kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Knott said he learned about the pending charges in Alabama against Charles “Kyle” Adcock from Adcock’s father, who was a music minister at the church, around the same time that news of Adcock’s employment went public in the fall of 2015. He said he took his concerns about Adcock and other issues with the church to the deacon board, suggesting an “intentional interim minister” be brought in to fix issues with the church.
“They wanted nothing to do with it. I just threw my hands up, said ‘this place is a mess. I’m resigning,’” Knott said.
But the church’s latest pastor and Knott’s own testimony in a bond reduction hearing for Adcock in September 2015 contradicts Knott’s recent claims that he didn’t know about the sexual abuse charges earlier.
In an article on the hearing, the Times Daily of Florence, Alabama, wrote that Knott had hired Adcock in April 2015 as “worship pastor” at the Bedford church.
“Did you know at that time he had 29 counts of sexual charges against him?” Knott was asked by a prosecutor.
“I knew he had some. I didn’t know how many,” Knott replied, according to the article.
Adcock’s employment, which first came to light in 2015, recently surfaced back in the news after Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear named the Bedford church among 10 that he believes needs to be investigated to be sure they’ve corrected policies and procedures with regard to “abuse and care for survivors.”
A statement released by the church’s latest pastor, Billy Taylor, on Thursday, says that the church welcomes the opportunity to work with the SBC to “prevent abuse in this, and every Southern Baptist Church” and is committed to revising policies and procedures to make the church a safe haven for members, guests and the community.
“This includes instituting new policies that would have prevented Mr. Adcock from working at our church four years ago,” the statement reads.
The criminal case
Adcock was living in Texas when he was initially arrested in August 2014 on accusations that he sexually abused a teen girl over a two-year period, beginning when she was 14, while he worked as a youth pastor at a Muscle Shoals church in Alabama.
He was extradited to Alabama and released on bond on Jan. 13, 2015, according to court documents. He then returned to Texas to live with his parents while awaiting trial.
Taylor said Knott became pastor of First Baptist Church in Bedford on Jan. 25, 2015.
Knott says the Adcock family were already active in the Bedford church when he officially started with the church on Feb. 1, 2015.
Adcock’s father, Ed Adcock, was a music minister there.
Knott says Kyle Adcock was also already working in the church, having been brought in by the previous interim pastor whose name he could not recall.
In an email sent to the Star-Telegram Friday afternoon, Knott said while he interviewed for the job, the Bedford church’s search committee never informed him of Adcock’s situation.
“Even though I specifically questioned the committee on the health of the church, conflicts, staff issues, or possible complications, I was assured there were no issues within the church body,” Knott wrote, leading him to accept the pastor position.
“I cannot and could not be responsible or expected to require background checks or any paperwork on the current staff members or the current church volunteers already serving in FBC Bedford before my arrival as pastor,” Knott wrote. “But much later, I became informed of the details of the Adcock case, and that church leaders of FBC Bedford had been made known of the Adcock allegations prior to my tenure.”
Knott said Thursday that Adcock was not a paid staff member but volunteered in the music ministry and was given money from the offerings as a token of appreciation.
He said he learned about Adcock’s pending charges around the same time that Adcock’s work at the church made the news.
“That’s when I started to do more investigating on my own to see how this all came about,” he said.
Knott claims he also discovered other issues going on in the church “that just wasn’t right,” but refused to elaborate.
After finding out, Knott said he told Adcock that he could no longer work at the church and said that he also approached church leaders, suggesting the church bring in an “intentional interim minister” to address problems within the church that he’d discovered.
He said he wasn’t removed from the church but left on his own accord.
“There was no removal,” said Knott, now pastor of the First Baptist Church in Giddings. “I wasn’t responsible for it. I came into the situation and I left after I discovered nobody wanted to do anything about it.”
On Sept. 10, 2015, after learning Adcock had been working at the Bedford church, the Colbert County district attorney in Alabama filed a motion seeking to revoke Adcock’s bond.
Taylor, who became pastor of the Bedford church in August, says four former and current members he has spoken to who had served as church leaders at that time dispute Knott’s claims.
Taylor said that while Adcock started as a volunteer with the church, he later moved to a paid position “during Steve’s watch.”
Adcock’s exact hiring date is unclear. Taylor said it was June 20, 2015, almost five months after Knott joined the church, but at the bond reduction hearing, Knott said it was April 2015.
Knott testified that he spoke with the deacons of the church and that Adcock was allowed to work there if he wanted.
“We agreed we were going to support (Adcock), and made the announcement to the church,” Knott said.
Adcock, however, voluntarily resigned from the church, Knott testified.
According to court documents, Knott also testified that he had been told by Adcock’s father and the previous interim pastor about bond conditions stipulating that Adcock could not work in any capacity that would give him unsupervised contact with minors. He said other church leaders were also told.
Knott testified it was the church’s general policy that two adults always be present when children were present and that, to his knowledge, Adcock had complied with his bond conditions.
As a result of the hearing, a judge revoked Adcock’s bond and he was returned to jail. He pleaded guilty in January 2016 to one count of sodomy and was given a partially probated 10-year sentence that left him serving less than two years in prison.
He is now a registered sex offender living in Arkansas, online records show. He declined to comment Friday.
Taylor said the four former church leaders agree that Knott was asked to resign.
“There were more issues than just the Kyle issue,” Taylor said he was told. “None of them were sexual-related or abuse-related. This was like the last straw.”