Third man pleads not guilty to North Jacksonville church-related sexual abuse charges
JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A former member of a North Jacksonville church appeared Thursday to be arraigned on two counts of capital sexual assault of a child, and his attorney has pleaded not guilty.
Jerome Teschendorf, 68, is the third defendant at Assembly of the Body of Christ Church on Old Kings Road.
Like Paul Dyal and Vernon Williamson, who also face two counts each of capital sexual assault of a child, Teschendorf has been told he faces life in prison if convicted.
Teschendorf’s next court date is June 22.
On Wednesday, a judge denied a bail request for Dyal, 78, a pastor at the Body of Christ Assembly of Jacksonville. Dyal was arrested in March after a coordinated police raid on the church in North Jacksonville. He pleaded not guilty in April.
As investigators made Dyal’s arrest, additional warrants were pending in Oklahoma. Teschendorf, who was arrested in Newalla, Oklahoma, and Williamson, who was arrested in Ardmore, Oklahoma, were both extradited to Jacksonville.
Williamson, 85, who is also affiliated with Dyal’s church, also pleaded not guilty this month.
Police say the investigation into Dyal dates back more than 20 years and includes evidence of offenses they say occurred in the early 1990s.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received a report of possible sexual abuse at the church in September 2020.
“The investigation revealed both long-term sexual and physical abuse of minors in the church over a period of more than thirty years,” the sheriff’s office said in its press release in March.
The sheriff’s office thinks there could be more than a dozen victims.
JSO said that during the investigation, police “identified and spoke to numerous victims and witnesses.” As a result, the sheriff’s office said, police believe there are other suspects. He asked anyone who thinks they have information to share to come forward by calling JSO or submit an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers of northeast Florida.
Eight women have since shared their stories with News4JAX, saying they are survivors of mental, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of people at Body of Christ Church’s Jacksonville Assembly.
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