No bond for Mississippi pastor accused of sexual battery

Published 5:00 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

A youth pastor accused of having sex with a 16-year-old church member in Mississippi is being held without bond.

Alexander Blackwelder, 26, of Tupelo, faces two counts of sexual battery and enticement of a child to produce visual depictions of adult sexual conduct. He is being held in the Lee County Jail.

“I think the charges are serious enough that we need to keep you,” Tupelo Municipal Court Judge Willie Allen said Thursday as he denied bond, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

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During the hearing, Tupelo Police Detective Hal Veal said authorities received a tip on Feb. 15 that the youth pastor at East Main Street Church of Christ was having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

During the initial interview with the girl and her parents, the girl denied any improprieties but said she had talked with Blackwelder and communicated via Snapchat. The parents gave detectives consent to search the girl’s phone, finding sexual videos and pictures and conversations with Blackwelder that made detectives believe they were having sex.

When questioned by police on Feb. 17, Blackwelder denied having an inappropriate relationship. But when brought back to the police station Wednesday, he allegedly admitted their relationship started in October 2022 and was more than just friendship.

“He admitted that they had sexual intercourse on two occasions and exchanged inappropriate video and pictures,” Veal said.

Blackwelder’s attorney, Anthony Farese, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.