Saturday, April 30, 2016

Youth leader at Perry Noble's Newspring Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch, arrested for child sexual assault




FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A youth group volunteer at a Florence church has been arrested for sexually assaulting a minor.
According to Florence Police Major Carlos Raines, a 15-year-old boy claimed Leo LaSalle Comissiong, 20, of Florence kissed and folded him through his clothes.
The incident happened in February at the NewSpring Church on North Cashua Drive, Raines said.
Comissiong is charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor, 3rd degree.

Is Leo LaSalle Comissiong still a youth leader at Newspring Church?
Perry Noble is the lead pastor of Newspring.
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes at Newspring Church to protect kids by calling police. This is how kids will be safer, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
Update 5/3/16: I called the Newspring Church Florence campus to ask if Leo is still a youth leader after his arrest. I spoke with Justin who refused to answer my question. He would only give me the number for their PR person Sharon Swift.

Justin refused to tell me his last name then said "No ma'am. You're not doing this." Then he hung up on me.


I then called the main Newspring campus in Anderson, South Carolina and spoke with Suzanne Swift's assistant Annie who said that Leo is not a youth leader anymore. She said that Suzanne has a prepared statement about Leo to send to people asking about him. I asked if they'd be sending that to media and she said no, just to individuals who ask. I left my email and asked to receive the statement. 

Here is the statement emailed to me by Newspring PR director Suzanne Swift:
Hey Amy,

Thank you for reaching out to us. I understand you have questions regarding the arrest and charges filed against a former volunteer in our church at our Florence campus. I hope this is helpful and answers your questions.

On Sunday, April 24, 2016, a NewSpring Church staff member saw Leo La Salle Comissiong III enter an unoccupied room with a 15 year old. The staff member immediately entered the room and questioned Comissiong. Comissiong denied any wrongdoing at that time. Because we take the safety of minors very seriously, we never allow adults to be alone with children or teens while on a NewSpring Campus. NewSpring Church questioned Comissiong again, and at that time removed him from volunteering in any capacity at NewSpring. After a separate conversation with the student, NewSpring staff contacted law enforcement. Since that time, NewSpring has fully cooperated with authorities and in this investigation.


NewSpring Church will continue to corporate with this investigation and we are praying for everyone impacted.

Thank you again for reaching out to us.



Suzanne Swift
Chief Public Relations and Marketing Officer
NewSpring Church
www.NewSpring.cc

864-328-1632
SNAP statement: Newspring Church must do outreach on child sex abuse case
Update- I received this email on May 9, 2016:
I used to be a volunteer at Newspring Church until there were some conflicts of interest that caused me to stop attending. I was reading your blog post and I am so happy that, for once, someone is saying something about this. Leo had been a volunteer to younger children since the age of 15, and since then, he has become a big part of the church. After this incident, he is no longer a volunteer and no longer attends the church (to my knowledge)
Justin Rhodes is the man you spoke to from Florence Campus that would not say his name. 
After multiple requests for a statement to be made to the public, the church refuses to do so, so thank you for doing so yourself. I hope many people read your post.

3 comments:

RHNI2Bensalem said...

WOW!! Just wondering if you've ever dealt with survivors of any of Lester Roloff's organizations like the Rebekah Home for Girls, and many others in connection to him or the Peoples Baptist Church of Corpus Christi, TX.

Anonymous said...

The reason the staff member probably referred you to their PR person is to prevent trolls from bating unequipped staff into giving a soundbite. I would advise any corporate staff the exact same way in a crisis; why should a church operate any differently? Instigating hate by implying that because this happened once it must have happened more is a sad cry for attention.

I look forward to checking back here to see if you "approve" my comment, I expect you won't.

FYI - when I post opposing views to NewSpring's blogs, they don't block them. They answer with concern and understanding.

Anonymous said...

Caring about the safety of children necessitates a thorough investigation into the situation. Church staff are responsible to make sure no others have been hurt or to offer supprt and care to additional victims. I EXPECT church staff/responsible adults to prioritze help and healing to everyone touched by this despciable crime.

Of all people on earth, our children are worthy of our concern, understanding, and protection.