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William Richardson, volunteer youth minister and choir director for the First Baptist Church of Mango, was arrested and accused of sexually battering a 9-year-old girl during Sunday school at the church.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the victim told a staff member at her school about the incidents, and deputies were notified on October 22.
During an investigation, they learned that Richardson, 47, sexually molested a girl while she was between the ages of 9-10 years old. At 11 years old, Richardson on at least one occasion sexually battered her. Detectives said it may have happened several times over three years.
The incidents reportedly occurred during Sunday school service at the First Baptist Church of Mango at 11619 E. Dr. MLK Blvd in Seffner.
"How can it be going on that long and we not know about it," says Nita Allred, Youth Minitries Director at the church. "Somebody would have said something, but nobody said anything."
Vest Dickerson, the Pastor's wife of the church says all the congregation can do at this time is pray.
"I have to trust in God to see us through," says Dickerson.
And the parishioners of the church aren't the only ones shocked and confused by the allegations. William Richardson, Sr. seemed to feel the same way when our Laura Harris called him Thursday morning.
"That's a foolish thing there, more than foolish! That's terrible," he said on the phone. "I feel sorry for the child if that's the case."
Allred fought back tears as she apologized this morning at the church. Hoping parents didn't blame her for what may have happened at the church for the past three years.
"I'm so sorry that this happened! You trusted the children with me and I'm so sorry. That's all I can say," says Allred.
At this time, detectives are unaware of any additional victims, but fear there may be. Anyone who may have been victimized by Richardson or has additional knowledge on this incident to contact the Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.
Richardson was arrested at his home without incident, and charged with capital sexual battery.
At a first appearance, no bond was issued for Richardson. He is facing life in prison.