A minister was arrested at his South Carolina church Wednesday for sexually abusing a minor that he got pregnant twice, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Phillip Jerard Buckson was charged with four counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, the sheriff’s office said in the news release.
On Thursday, the 6-foot-8, 190-pound minister had his bond set at $20,000 on the combined charges, according to jail records at the Spartanburg County Detention Center, where Buckson remains behind bars.
Another second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor charge was filed against Buckson Thursday, this one from the Gaffney Police Department, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported. Gaffney Police Chief Chris Skinner said the new charge is related to another incident with the same minor, and Buckson could face more charges in that jurisdiction, per the newspaper.
The 32-year-old Boiling Springs man confessed to sheriff’s deputies after he was arrested at his church, according to the news release.
Buckson, a Gaffney native, is the pastor at Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church, according to its website. Buckson has two children, per his bio on the church’s website.
Investigators received tips about the criminal activity from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Jan. 30, the sheriff’s office reported.
The victim was located and she provided investigators with “a detailed statement,” according to the news release.
In her statement, the victim said she began having “sexual intercourse” with Buckson at his Cherokee County residence in October 2015, when she was 13 years old, according to an incident report.
She continued to have “sexual intercourse multiple times” with Buckson and the ninth-grade student “became pregnant on two occasions,” the sheriff’s office said in the incident report.
Both times she became pregnant she had “abortions to terminate the pregnancies,” according to the incident report.
A star basketball player, Buckson was a part of state championship teams at Gaffney High School, WSPA reported. He went on to play college basketball for Spartanburg Methodist, according to WYFF.
After joining the ministry, Buckson preached in other states across the South including Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, according to the church’s website