Former Sarasota pastor accused of inappropriately touching girls; more victims possible

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A 74-year-old former Sarasota pastor is accused of inappropriately touching children.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office charged Albert L. Phillips with sex crimes against children and detectives are concerned there could be more victims. Phillips is the former pastor of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

On Dec. 8, 2017, a 15-year-old victim told authorities that she was inappropriately touched on several occasions by Phillips. Some of the incidents happened when she was only 4 years old, a Sarasota County affidavit stated.

Some happened when Phillips and his wife were caring for the girl when she stayed with them at their Tarpon Avenue home.

The victim said she was shown porn in Phillips’ office and he would touch her in private areas and he tried to get her to touch him, too, on several occasions. He would say that it was their secret and there would be consequences if she told anyone, according to the affidavit.

Sarasota police said there were similar reports in 2015 and 2005 with allegations dating back to the mid-1980s.

On Friday, Phillips was arrested and charged with Lewd or Lascivious Molestation of a Victim Under 12, Lewd or Lascivious Conduct on a Victim Under 16 and Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition on a Victim Under 16.

Because the victims were children who visited Phillips’ home, detectives want parents with children who may know him to be aware of this investigation.

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