LADSON, SC (WCSC) - After learning of the allegations against Freedom Free Will Baptist Church pastor Dale Richardson, the congregation's State Executive Committee has suspended the Reverend's credentials pending the final outcome of the investigation.
In the statement, the Executive Committee of the Free Will Baptist Association says they were "shocked" at the list of charges against the pastor.
Most recently, Richardson was denied bond Wednesday August 10 on rape and kidnapping charges in Dorchester County.
The 46-year-old is being held in the Charleston County jail on more than $1 million bail facing charges filed by Summerville and North Charleston police on similar charges of kidnapping and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
Before the statement from the Free Will Baptist State Association, a church member at Freedom Free Will Baptist Church was scraping Richardson's name from the front marquee last week. The woman told Live5News, "Richardson is no longer our pastor."
The entire text released by Rev. Todd Smith, of the South Carolina Free Will Baptist State Association Executive Committee, can be read here:
"Our leadership was shocked to learn of the allegations made against Dale Richardson. According to our statement of faith, we believe that the misconduct alleged against him is forbidden by God. At this time, the Eastern Conference Executive Committee and Ordaining Council have decided to suspend Rev. Richardson's credentials pending the final outcome of the investigation.
"We plan to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in their on]going investigation. Our prayers are with all involved. As Free Will Baptists who are a part of the National Association of Free Will Baptists we believe that the highest authority is the local church; therefore, we are not denominationally connected in local church government and oversight.
"Our prayers are with the Freedom Free Will Baptist Church leadership as they make decisions and lead their church during this time."
Richardson is accused of kidnapping at least three women. Authorities say two of those women were sexually assaulted in a trailer on church grounds off Barnhill Road.
The church still has Richardson listed as their pastor on their official website.