ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – On Thursday, the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office arrested Terry Frank Compton on multiple charges of sexual assault of a juvenile.
Compton, who serves as the pastor of Faith Independent Missionary Baptist Church in Damascus, Virginia, faces 30 felony counts related to the alleged abuse. Investigators determined that abuse began in 1995 and carried on for approximately 26 years, according to a Washington County Sheriff’s Office release.
“The case is in, really, its infancy – he just got arrested last week,” Washington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Joshua Cumbow said. “This is a big case.”
Cumbow told News Channel 11 in an interview on Tuesday that the investigation into Compton began when complaints were made to law enforcement.
“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has a designated investigator that handles child victim cases. My office has a designated prosecutor that handles child victim cases,” he said. “So, working together, they really built a case.”
Cumbow said a great deal of time has been spent speaking with the alleged victims.
“Getting corroboration – slight corroboration, to bolster their story to the point where you feel like you have enough probable cause for the detective to take out warrants – and that’s what’s happened here,” he said.
The charges facing Compton are currently based on three alleged victims that have come forward, but Cumbow knows that number could increase.
“That’s always a possibility and that’s one of the reasons the sheriff’s office chose to issue a press release was to potentially see if there are more victims. I hope there’s not more victims,” he said.
Kyelee Moffett is the CEO of Partners for Stronger Communities, a Bristol-area advocacy center, who also knows more alleged victims are possible in a case like this.
“The primary ages of 12-24 is where a person is at highest risk to suffer from an assault,” Moffett said.
Both Moffett and Community Education Coordinator Rayven Dukas explained that shame is often a driving factor in not reporting alleged assault of any kind.
“They feel shameful and they feel guilty that it’s their fault,” Moffett said.
“They feel they’ve done something wrong,” Dukas added.
However, they both know that it only takes one person, one voice to move other victims to share their stories.
“Hopefully they will find the courage to speak up,” Moffett said. “This will give them a voice in this and with themselves that they can say, ‘This happened to me.'”
Cumbow urged any other alleged victims to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 276-676-6000.