WISE COUNTY, VA (WJHL) – The former pastor of an area church. accused of sex crimes against a child, is being held without bond in Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield, VA.
Jeff Rolen, campus pastor of Highlands Fellowship in Wise, VA is charged with 10 counts of indecent liberties with a child. The alleged incidents occurred more than 30 years ago.
investigators say the alleged incidents took place between January 1985 and end of December 1987.
According to indictments obtained by News Channel 11, if convicted Rolen faces a maximum of 5 years behind bars on each count. News Channel 11 obtained a letter sent to members of Highlands Fellowship.
It said part, “We are saddened to share Jeff Rolen, campus pastor at Wise, VA has been arrested, late yesterday. We learned of his arrest and charges regarding inappropriate relations with a minor prior to his employment with Highlands Fellowship.”
The church said pre-employment background checks did not reveal any issues.
Highlands Fellowship said it released Rolen from his position. Virginia State Police is investigating.
See the note sent to church members in full below:
We are saddened to share that Jeff Rolen, Campus Pastor at Wise, Virginia has been arrested. Late yesterday, we learned of his arrest and charges regarding inappropriate relations with a minor prior to his employment with Highlands Fellowship.
Preemployment background checks did not reveal any issues.
The Church only has limited information about the situation at this time. However, given the seriousness of the allegations, we have released Mr. Rolen from his position here at Highlands. We are also leaving Camp Bethel as a church site.
We ask you to pray for all those affected by this situation, the Wise Community, and our church family. Please refrain from gossip so we do not cause further harm to anyone involved. As followers of Christ, we must trust God to provide guidance and healing to move forward.
We will have Easter service this Sunday for our Wise Campus at the Inn at Wise at 11 am. Mark Estepp will speak live with acoustic music. The Good Friday service in Wise is cancelled and we encourage our Wise members to attend the service at our Abingdon campus.
God is in control and we can find comfort in His words. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
Jim Fleming, Executive Pastor,Steven Davidson, Operations Pastor