COAL COUNTY, OK -- A Former Coalgate youth pastor has been arrested for sex crimes against children. 28-year-old Dustin Werneberg was taken into custody Wednesday on several second degree rape charges.
An affidavit states the sexual abuse has been going on for more than a year. Kristen Shanahan spoke with the lead investigator of this case and the pastor who says he never believed his employee could be involved in something like this.
Police tell us Werneburg was arrested at Blanchard Middle School in McClain County Wednesday where he was serving as a teacher's aid. He is now behind bars in Coal County on three counts of Second Degree Rape, three counts of Forcible Sodomy, a charge of Lewd or Indecent Proposals to a Child and Lewd Molestation. Investigators say all these crimes were committed against a girl under the age of 16.
Coalgate police investigator Richard Costantino says former youth minister Dustin Ray Werneburg was arrested on eight sex crime charges after a parent came forward saying Werneburg had inappropriate contact with their daughter.
"Information was passed to us. We had it checked out. Found that it was factual and we are still proceeding with the investigation," Costantino said.
An affidavit states the victim's parent found inappropriate messages and pictures between Werneburg and his daughter. It also shows the two began texting in November of 2011 and exchanged at least 1,000 messages.
"It happens more in the United States than people think. Basically, because of the internet because it allows more people to come into contact with other people," Costantino said.
The affidavit states Werneburg was a youth pastor at an area church.
Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Coalgate, Jeff Self, says Werneburg did work at his church for three years.
"We had some allegations of sexual misconduct him basically inappropriately approaching a teenage girl. And with that we met with leadership of the church and asked for his resignation," Self said.
Wereneburg resigned in August, but Self says this was not the first allegation made against Werneburg.
"We had three allegations over the course of three years. Two of them he had come to me and said you are going to hear this personally, and it was a he said she said and we believed him and there was no anything else about it, but once we had that third allegation that was really significant in August," Self said.
Self says since no victims came forward he did not believe the allegations against Werneburg. He says Werneburg passed a background check before working at the church and appeared to be a good family man.
"You look back and you go 'were their signs I should have seen. Did I miss something? I had the guy in my home and his family. It puts all kinds of questions in your mind that really makes it harder to trust the next person," Self said.
Self says right now they are not looking for a new youth minister.
"We're just dealing with this situation and trying to make sure our students are able to get through this and not to lose their faith in God through this," Self said.
Self says Sunday morning he talked to church members about Werneburg's charges. Werneburg's preliminary hearing is set for December the 6th.