Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the NBC channel affiliate for the Washington area. This version has been corrected.
Prince George’s County authorities have charged an Accokeek man with sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl when he served as a deacon in the District church they attended about a decade ago.
Police arrested Maurice Blanchard, 45, last week, charging him with child abuse and sex abuse in connection with incidents that spanned almost a year starting in July 2003, according to charging documents.
As part of their investigation, authorities set up a phone call in December between Blanchard and the husband of the now-26-year-old woman, documents show. During the call, which police recorded, Blanchard admitted to having sex in 2004 with the woman when she was 15.
“During the conversation the Defendant admitted to having vaginal intercourse with the Victim in 2004,” the charging documents state.
Sandra Seegars, the woman’s godmother, said her goddaughter was babysitting for Blanchard’s family at the time. She did not go to police partly because she was scared, Seegars said.
He abused her and told her not to tell anyone, said Seegars, who spoke on behalf of the woman, who did not want to comment. He told her that no one was going to believe her, Seegars added.
Blanchard was a deacon at Grace Apostolic Church in Northeast Washington during the time of the alleged abuse, Seegars said.
A woman who answered a phone call to the Blanchard home declined to comment. Current officials of Grace Apostolic did not return calls seeking comment. The Washington Post does not name alleged victims of sexual abuse.
The claims were first reported Monday by WRC (Channel 4).
The alleged abuse occurred when Blanchard was in his mid-30s and the woman was 15 and 16, according to authorities.
It went on for almost a year, allegedly occurring at least 15 times.
All the incidents allegedly occurred at Blanchard’s home in Clinton, said Seegars, who for years was an outspoken Advisory Neighborhood Commission member in Ward 8. The girl would often spend the night at the Blanchards’ home during the summers since it was a trusted church family.
Seegars said she does not attend Grace Apostolic but confronted church officials with the allegations about nine years ago. She spoke to officials at the church, who told her that they would address her concerns, Seegars said.
“They say they can pray things away, but when they have sexual things like that, praying isn’t going to fix it,” Seegars said.
After talking to church officials, Seegars said she didn’t go to the police because she knew that the woman was not ready to talk about what happened.
“The church was close-knit,” Seegars said.
“You don’t spread your business.”
The woman attended Grace Apostolic for the past decade. Seegars said that it is where she met her husband, had her wedding and recently celebrated her baby shower.
She added that her goddaughter went to counseling over the years but continued to feel threatened by Blanchard, whom she would see at social functions.
The woman’s mother still attends the church, but the woman and her husband left shortly after they filed a complaint against Blanchard, who continued to attend events at Grace Apostolic, Seegars said.
Seegars said her goddaughter came forward at the prodding of her husband.
“He supported her and encouraged her to tell it,” Seegars said. “He even helped with the process.”
The woman recently had a girl, who is less than a year old. Having a daughter of her own also compelled her to go to police with the allegations, Seegars said.