Former Alabama Christian Youth Minister Oliver Brazelle Accused of Raping Boys
The Florence Times-Daily reports 79-year-old Oliver Brazelle, formerly music and youth minister at the First United Methodist Church of Sheffield, was arrested Wednesday by agents from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and charged with second-degree sexual abuse and sodomy.
Authorities allege Brazelle sexually abused a teenage boy who was a member of his youth group at the church in the mid-1990s. The child was allegedly assaulted at Brazelle’s Shoals Creek home. Sheffield police launched an investigation in 2012 following accusations by church members who notified police of the alleged abuse, although no victims were initially willing to come forward. That changed last month when one alleged victim, now an adult, contacted authorities.
“I’m glad someone finally stepped up,” Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray told the Times-Daily. “Maybe this will bring others forward.”
Brazelle, who was accused of “inappropriate sexual contact” as far back as the 1970s, was terminated from his music and youth minister position by Billy Don Anderson, chairman of the church board of administrators, in July 2012.
“Since the beginning, we moved quick to turn it over to the authorities,” Anderson told the Times-Daily. “I am pleased with the way the church has handled this and supported each other,” he added.
The Associated Press reports Brazelle is free on $45,000 bond.