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CHURCH VOLUNTEER HELD ON SEX CHARGES

A Lakeland man is accused of having sex with boys for money.
Published Nov. 5, 2007

A 40-year-old church volunteer had sexual contact with several teenage boys he met through a youth ministry, offering some money for sex acts or to keep quiet, police said.

Marshal Seymour was arrested Sunday on charges of using a child in sexual performance, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and tampering with evidence. Bail was set at $325,000.

Lakeland police said Seymour was convicted in the late 1990s of misdemeanor battery in Mobile, Ala., while working as a youth pastor at the Parkway Assembly of God.

Police Sgt. Gary Gross said Seymour was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy. He was convicted of battery, but a sodomy charge was dropped. Gross said Seymour got a year of probation after a one-year jail sentence was suspended.

Seymour moved to Lakeland in 1999 and began volunteering at First Baptist Church at the Mall, police said. A church background check reportedly did not show the battery conviction.

Seymour is married. His telephone number was not working Sunday. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

The first victim to come forward said he met Seymour through the church and worked for him at a business he owned. Police said Seymour acknowledged having sexual encounters in the past year with the teen.

Some victims said Seymour paid them for sex, and some said he paid them hush money.

Church pastor Jay Dennis said Seymour was a popular parishioner who he never suspected of inappropriate behavior.

"We are troubled, devastated and shocked by the details of what we have learned," Dennis said. "What has happened here is every pastor's worst nightmare."

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