Minister charged with abuse

Published 11:33 am Monday, March 26, 2007

By By Lydia Grimes – features writer
A part-time preacher from Brewton has been charged with sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl.
Stephen Lyle Whittaker, 39, a Brewton resident, was arrested March 13 and charged with first-degree sexual abuse, police said.
According to Sgt. Eric Suarez, who is the investigating the incident, the Brewton Police Department received a call from the victim's mother at about 7 p.m. March 12. Whittaker was accused of touching the victim in an inappropriate manner, Suarez said.
The mother told police other people had told her about the incident.
The police arrived at Whittaker's home that night to find that he had left town, but he turned himself in to the police the next day at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Whittaker also told police he was a part-time preacher with an unidentified church at Berrydale, Fla.
Whittaker was released from the Escambia County Detention Center after making his $5,000 bond.
Suarez said some complaints had been made about the bond being set low, but the district attorney's office could not confirm whether the bond could be appealed.