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Jacksonville pastor sexually abused child 20 to 30 times over years, warrant alleges

The alleged child victim said she "felt happy when new girls would come to the church because she believed she would endure less abuse."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — New details have emerged in the investigation into three current and former pastors at the Jacksonville Assembly of the Body of Christ on Old Kings Road.

Pastor Paul Dyal, 78, was jailed on charges of capital sexual battery on a child under 12 following a raid during church services last Wednesday. 

Also arrested: former pastors Vernon Williamson, 85, and Jerome Teschendorf, 68, who were picked up on charges of capital sexual battery in Oklahoma. 

The arrests are the result of a long-term investigation by the State Attorney's Office that began in 2020. The investigation uncovered alleged sexual and physical abuse of minors in the church that state prosecutors allege occurred over a period of over thirty years. 

But an arrest warrant released Monday shows police were notified of the abuse as far back as 2003. The warrant says the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office received a report in August 2003 that Dyal sexually abused a child under 12 when she was staying at his house. The victim told police Dyal entered the bathroom while she was bathing and "fondled her vagina with his hands and a belt buckle." 

The warrant says she told police she'd "made attempts to tell her parents, however, they refused to listen. There was no followup on this report."

There are no court records from the 2003 case. First Coast News has reached out to JSO to find out why the investigation ended. 

Credit: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Cleveland County Sheriff's Office, Carter County Sheriff's Office
Paul Dyal, Jerome Teschendorf, Vernon Williamson

The warrant also details the current investigation, which began in 2020 following fresh reports of abuse. Investigators interviewed an adult woman who said Dyal bathed and sexually abused her as a child approximately 20 and 30 times over a period of seven years.

The woman told police Dyal's residence was located above the church and that she was sent to stay with him when her parents were out of town. She said her "parents were routinely sent away to other churches and when they were out of town, she had to stay with the suspect and his family." 

The warrant says the abuse occurred when Dyal's wife and two children were in the next room. The victim said Dyal would "put his finger over his mouth to tell her to be quiet" before abusing her. The warrant says the victim "felt happy when new girls would come to the church because she believed she would endure less abuse."

The warrant also says that investigators discovered that on June 11, 2019, the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers, and Toll, sent a demand letter to the church and to Dyal. The letter was on behalf of numerous victims who alleged sexual, physical and emotional abuse within the church when they were minor children, the warrant states. The law firm received no response from the church. 

RELATED: St. Johns County teacher accused of trying to meet 14-year-old for sex

Arrest warrants were not immediately available for Williamson and Teschendorf.

Police believe there may be additional victims and witnesses. They ask anyone with information to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS. 

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