Bluefield Daily Telegraph
After detailed questioning about a State Police investigation into alleged sexual abuse of teens by a former church youth volunteer and child mentor, a Mercer County magistrate found probable cause during a hearing Wednesday afternoon and bound the case over to the grand jury.
Timothy Probert, 55, of Bluefield, appeared before Magistrate Jim Dent Wednesday afternoon for the preliminary hearing on 38 child sexual abuse related charges.
Sgt. M.D. Clemons, with the Crimes Against Children Unit of the West Virginia State Police, was questioned on the stand by defense attorney William Flanigan about her investigation into alleged crimes that 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.
During her testimony, Clemons provided a graphic explanation of the alleged acts, which included “mutual masturbation” between Probert and the victims, as well as oral and anal sex.
Clemons testified that there are eight male victims, and all were young teens when the abuse occurred. She said Probert mentored three of the victims while volunteering with the WE CAN program and the others he knew through church.
Flanigan questioned Clemons extensively about the relationship between Probert and the children, and whether he was in a custodial role or a position of trust.
Clemons testified that Probert was in a position of trust, noting the parents of the youths allowed their children to sleep over at his house. “Those parents trusted him to take care of them.”
Probert also “led a lot of youth trips” for the church, Clemons said.
Following the questioning, Dent found probably cause against Probert. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John McGinnis represented the state at the hearing.
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.
Probert remains free on bond.