A United Methodist pastor in Alexandria and two Norfolk men have been arrested by Norfolk police on charges they had sexual relations with a minor girl during the last two years.
The minister, the Rev. Reid W. Digges Jr., Astor of the Del Ray United Methodist Church, was charged Sept. 27 with sodomy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Digges is now free on $2,500 bond, according to Norfolk Olice Lt. Earl Hanna.
Police said Digges, 53, who was pastor of a Methodist church in Norfolk for two years, and the two others allegedly visited the girl at her Parents' home for the purpose of sex.
"I absolutely deny the charges," Digges said yesterday. "They are not true in any way. I was floored when I heard about them. My whole life is rolling on this."
Digges said the girl and her family had been receiving assistance from the Norfolk church that he once headed. In the spring of 1977, the girl's father asked the church to give the family $180 for a telephone bill, which Digges said he declined to pay.
"This whole thing must stem from that. I have never had sex with her, ever. When I first met her she was tubercular, and I got her help from the public health nurse. This thing is untrue, and awful," he said.
Digges allegedly traveled from Alexandria to Norfolk to visit the girl, according to Hanna.
Also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in the incident were Jerry B. Watson, 37, and Robert W. Torbert, 71. Watson is a member of the Miles Memorial United Methodist Church in Norfolk, which Digges led until he left in 1977, Olice said.
The girl, who has not been identified, went to police last week because of "mental pressure" she was experiencing in connection with the alleged incidents, Hanna said. According to police, at least one of the men brought her gifts, which Hanna refused to identify.
Hanna described the girl's parents as being "old and almost unable to move. Her father is recovering from a stroke, and her mother is dying from cancer," he said.
Digges was assigned to the beige-brick Alexandria church last June, after leading a church in Salem, Va., according to Betty Seemuller, a lay leader of the Alexandria congregation.
Everybody has been delighted with him. He has a real rapport with people;" Seemuller said.
Digges "has a booming voice and he loves to sing with the choir. He is a wonderful man," another parishioner said.
Digges receives a $20,000 annual salary and use of a spacious house adjacent to the church, located near Mount Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray section of the city, Seemuller said. She said Digges is married and has two children.
The Rev. Norman Preston Jr., who replaced Digges at the Norfolk church, said Methodist ministers are "routinely transferred from church to church after a few years. I thought he was too liberal for the Norfolk area, but I never heard any of those allegations against him."