- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) - An assistant pastor of a Tennessee church has been charged with sexually assaulting two girls at his home and at the church.

Sixty-two-year-old Jeremy Hugh McDowell was arrested Oct. 27 on charges including sexual battery by an authority figure, aggravated sexual battery and rape of a child, The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2fetLuM) reported.

The investigation began in June after an investigator with the Department of Children’s Services told the Roane County Sheriff’s Office that McDowell had abused the girls, ages 12 and 17, at his home and at the Spoken Word Ministry Church.

An indictment charges that the girls were assaulted between July 2014 and July 2016.

The sheriff’s office said the investigator told them McDowell threatened the family of the girls after they confronted him about the accusations. The investigator also said the family contacted Roane County officials because McDowell had a lot of influence in McMinn County, where he and the family live. McDowell is former law enforcement officer and first responder in Sweetwater.

It’s unclear if McDowell has an attorney.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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