Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 20, 2014

Bond modified for former church youth volunteer after police say he propositioned man for sex

PRINCETON — Bond was modified Thursday for a former church youth volunteer accused of child sexual abuse after a judge learned he recently propositioned a man for sex.

Mercer County Circuit Court Judge William Sadler ordered Timothy Probert , 55 of Bluefield, to be placed on home confinement after a witness testified that Probert offered to pay him $50 to perform oral sex on him. Probert, who is facing 38 counts of child sexual abuse related charges, had previously been free on bond.

John Wayne Harkless testified that he was in Porbert’s South Bluefield neighborhood in early March going door-to-door and asking residents if he could do yard work to earn extra money. Harkless testified that he knocked on the door at Probert’s residence and asked if he had any work. “He said he didn’t,” Harkless testified.

Harkless said Probert then called him back and offered to pay him $50 if he would allow him to perform the sex act.

During the hearing, prosecutors also heard testimony from Sgt. M.D. Clemons, with the Crimes Against Children Unit of the West Virginia State Police, Westminster Presbyterian Pastor Jonathan Rockness and a private investigator hired by the defense.

During a preliminary hearing Feb. 5, Clemons testified that the alleged crimes occurred when Probert was a youth volunteer at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bluefield, and a volunteer with the Working to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect (WE CAN) program. The charges stem from incidents that date back to 1986, with the latest incidents occurring between July 2008 and 2010.

Clemons testimony at the earlier hearing included a graphic explanation of the alleged acts, which included “mutual masturbation” between Probert and the victims, as well as oral and anal sex.

Probert is charged with 22 counts of sexual abuse by a custodian; six counts of first-degree sexual abuse; seven counts of third-degree sexual assault; one count of distribution and display of obscene matter to a minor; one count of use of obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor; and one count of use of a minor to produce obscene matter or to assist in doing sexually explicit conduct. They eight alleged victims, all male, ranged in age from 12 to 17 at the time the incidents occurred.

Probert was accused of similar crimes in 1999 when a complaint was made by the mother of a child in the WE CAN program, but no charges were filed. After the accusation, Probert was terminated from the program.


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