Scott Christner

Scott Christner

GOSHEN — More victims have come forward with allegations they were molested by a former First Baptist Church youth group leader in Goshen.

Scott Christner, 44, of Goshen was arrested a second time and jailed last Thursday. Goshen police detectives heard new accusations from four youths over the past two weeks after Christner was initially charged in a different case, according to court documents.

He now faces 11 felony charges of child molesting and sexual misconduct in a new case.

The victims — three 17-year-old boys and an 18-year-old man — each described how Christner touched them inappropriately while they were younger boys, from about May 2012 through January 2017, and participating in The Olympians, a First Baptist youth group of which Christner was a leader. Most of the alleged encounters occurred at Christner’s home along Greenwood Drive, probable cause affidavits in the new case show.

One of the victims spoke to Goshen police Nov. 25, four days after Christner was first arrested and jailed on a child molestation charge in the initial case. He told a detective Christner touched him twice while he was in eighth grade — once on a bus during a trip to a bonfire, and then a second time during a group activity at the church along South Indiana Avenue, the documents show.

The victim also told police his parents approached him about the molestation, but he said he’s still unable to tell them Christner was the one who abused him.

Another victim spoke to a detective Dec. 2, saying Christner touched him inappropriately several times while he was at Christner’s house when he was approximately 10–12 years old. Allegations made during the investigation included situations when the boy spent a night at Christner’s house; times when Christner bathed the boy in a hot tub and rubbed aloe lotion on him; and during games of so-called “marker wars,” where Christner would write on the boy’s body and would try to touch him, according to the documents.

The victim told a friend about what happened last spring, but didn’t name Christner then. He came forward after Christner’s first arrest made news headlines, and his parents, who are friends with Christner, questioned whether the accusations were true.

“He knew he had to tell his parents then because of the friendship between them and Scott,” the affidavit states. “He did not want his parents believing Scott when he knew that what was being reported was true.”

A third report was made Dec. 3 when a victim told a detective Christner touched him inappropriately when he was 13 years old while they were at another person’s house to watch a football game. The victim also described times Christner would touch his pants at the crotch while they wrestled playfully at Christner’s home while other youth group members were present, the affidavit shows.

Another victim spoke to police Dec. 4, stating Christner touched him when he was in sixth grade while he was at Christner’s house. The victim’s father told police he left his son with Christner at times because Christner was “a trusted member of the church,” and considered family, the affidavit shows.

The new allegations followed an investigation into accusations by a boy younger than 14 years old. That victim told Goshen police Christner touched him inappropriately three different times in July — once at a movie theater and twice at Christner’s house, including a night after they worked as volunteers at First Baptist Church’s booth during the Elkhart County Fair.

Police questioned Christner during the investigation, and he admitted to two of the situations, the affidavit in the case shows. He was arrested and jailed after the interview Nov. 21, and was then charged with a Level 4 felony count of child molesting in Elkhart County Superior Court 3.

Christner bonded out of jail the day after his first arrest. First Baptist Church leaders also ended his role in youth ministry, lead pastor Gregg Lanzen said.

He was jailed again last Thursday on a $150,000 bond after the new accusations were made. Police said he bonded out Friday.

Nine felony counts of child molesting and two felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor were filed Friday, also in Elkhart County Superior Court 3. An initial hearing in that case is scheduled for Thursday, court information shows.

Christner was due to appear in court for an initial hearing in the first case Thursday when he was arrested. That hearing was rescheduled to Dec. 19, court information shows.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aimee.ambrose@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 316. Follow her on Twitter at @aambrose_TGN.

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