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JONESBORO, Ark. – After publishing our first story Thursday afternoon about David Yates, 44, of Jonesboro, NEA Report was besieged with new information.
Perhaps the most shocking detail was that Yates, an 8th grade math teacher at Westside schools who had a six month predatory relationship with a 14-year-old, was a preacher. At the time of his non-sexual “relationship” with the child, he held position of pastor at Valley View Missionary Baptist Church.
Yates was still on the pulpit preaching last Sunday, June 25 – three days before he went to jail.
However, church leadership is claiming they were misled by Yates, who resigned his position of pastor over the congregation “about two months ago,” said Roger Blankenship, a deacon at the church. Around two months prior, May 9, was when JPD began investigating the incident.
“He preached there but he wasn’t the pastor,” Blankenship said on Thursday. “He resigned about two months ago. We accepted his resignation, then the church turned around and brought him back just to fill in the pulpit till this thing was over with. He’s not the pastor and he won’t be back in the pulpit after this.”
Blankenship had seen the NEA Report story Thursday evening when he spoke to a reporter. He said he got a call it was online and pulled it up just before we reached him. He said he didn’t know Yates interaction with the underage teen went to the extent that it did. Blankenship said Yates described it far more innocently than was.
“Just tried to help a young lady that was in trouble and that’s about all I’ll share with you now,” Blankenship said.
The church wasn’t aware of the extent of the incident until Wednesday night, Blankenship said, when Yates sat in jail at Craighead County Detention Center for the first of his two day sentence.
At Wednesday night’s service, the congregation was made aware of a more serious incident than trying to “help a young lady that was in trouble,” Blankenship said. The decision was made for Yates to no longer take the pulpit at their church services.
“He didn’t make the church aware,” Blankenship said. “He made me aware of it and I shared it with the church last night.”
On Thursday afternoon, the church scrubbed references to Yates from their website, including photos and the entire archive of sermons. The church’s Facebook page was disabled when checked, although a cached version in Google showed an image of Yates at a church function surrounded by children.
Despite the church just learning of the extent of the unsavory behavior, Blankenship was confident no inappropriate incidents had happened at the church.
“No, not anything happened there,” Blankenship said. “We would have known about it before now.”
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