AP NEWS

Missouri youth group leader charged with sex crimes

March 5, 2020 GMT

MARSHFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A former Missouri youth group leader has been charged with raping one girl and exchanging nude photos with two others.

Twenty-two-year-old Benjamin Blake, of Rogersville, was freed on bond Wednesday after he was charged last week with the rape count and five other felonies.

The probable cause statement says he convinced one of the girls whom he is accused of exchanging photos with to perform a sex act on him and threatened to harm himself if the other girl didn’t send pictures, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

The statement says Blake, a former member and leader of the youth group at Temple Baptist Church in Marshfield, was 18 and 19 at the time the crimes are alleged to have occurred, while the girls were 13 and 14.

Adam Woody said Blake plans to enter a plea of not guilty. He said that there is “much more information that is going to come out as the case progresses” and noted that some of the allegations date back to a time when Blake was a member of the youth group, not a leader.