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Kansas church youth leader charged with soliciting child

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | 4:49 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas City, Kan., church youth leaderwas charged Tuesday with soliciting a child who attends his church.

Michael Joy, 40, faces one count of aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. He was being held Tuesday on $150,000 bond. It was unclear if he had a lawyer.

Joy, one of five youth leaders for Stony Point Baptist Church, was convicted of eight counts of indecent liberties with a child in the late 1980s, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections Web site. He spent more than eight years in prison and was released on parole in 2000. Joy was discharged from parole in 2003, according to the Web site.

Stony Point Baptist Church pastor Thomas R. Hamilton said Tuesday that Joy was arrested Friday after a mother called Hamilton the day before alleging that Joy had inappropriate contact with her child. The family attends the church, but the alleged contact was not on church grounds.

Hamilton notified police, who then took Joy into custody while at the church. Hamilton said other allegations against Joy could surface. He said Joy has been a youth leader for the independent congregation of 70 to 120 members since 2001.

"I think this might be the tip of the iceberg," Hamilton said in his church office Tuesday.

Hamilton, who joined the congregation as pastor in 2005, said Joy asked to meet with him in 2005 and tearfully told him he had been convicted of having sex with a teenage girl when he was 18 and that he had spent time in prison for that offense.

After that meeting, Hamilton conducted a Web-based sex offender search and found nothing matching Joy's name or address.

"He was invisible," Hamilton said.

Stony Point Baptist does not routinely perform criminal background checks, and Hamilton said he does not know what is involved in performing such searches.

"But I'm learning," he said. "We had some filters in place. But apparently we didn't have strong enough filters in place."

According to the Kansas Registered Offender Web site operated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, offenses committed before 1994 are not available. Joy's offenses — eight counts of indecent liberties with a child — occurred in 1987 and 1989.

Church Mutual Insurance Co., a Merrill, Wis.-based company that provides insurance to churches, has recommendations for performing background searches on employees on its Web site but does not require such searches.

Hamilton said he received a call Thursday night about the allegations that led to the latest charge against Joy. It was a church-member mother, saying Joy had "been inappropriate" with her child.

"There was no touching," Hamilton said. But the child "was put in a very uncomfortable situation," he said.

Hamilton would not give the child's age or gender.

He said he confronted Joy at his home after talking to the family and that Joy admitted he had "acted inappropriately." Hamilton then went to police, who arrested Joy in Hamilton's office.

"He said 'I need help,'" Hamilton said, referring to comments he heard Joy make as police led him away.

Joy made his initial court appearance Tuesday without an attorney. His hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3 in Wyandotte County District Court.

Hamilton said the youth group's laptop also was missing Friday, and Joy told him he had it. Hamilton did not know if police had recovered the laptop.

Police did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

As one of the congregation's five youth leaders, Joy participated in Sunday and Wednesday gatherings with children and teens, Hamilton said. He would lead them in games and group exercises.

Hamilton said he has discussed the arrest with the congregation and hopes to "move forward."

"I want this to be a rallying point, a wake-up call," he said.

 


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