UPDATE -- Police have charged a former youth group leader with sexually abusing children who were members of the church, according to a release.
Raymond Fernandez, 49, of the unit block of Crosswall Court in Perry Hall, was charged Friday morning of abusing two children, police said.
Fernandez was a teacher and youth group leader at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore at the time of the alleged abuse.
"Recently, the victim came forward to report that Raymond Fernandez had sexually abused him in 1997," according to the release. "The victim reported that the suspect was a church youth group leader, and that the victim had been abused during youth group functions and at the suspect's home. Detectives also learned that the suspect had sexually abused a second victim associated with the church youth group in 1997."
Fernandez is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center.
"He's pretty down to earth. He's very much a family man. He's always going to functions for his kids," said Tom Wagner, a neighbor.
In response to the charges, Pastor Brian Lange issued the following statement:
In late September 2013, two courageous, adult members of Greater Grace World Outreach
stepped forward to report that during the late 1990s they were victims of sexual abuse committed by a former church employee.
The mistreatment of any child or teen is abhorrent and contrary to the ministry and mission of the church. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the church members and their families, as well as anyone in our community who has been the victim of sexual, physical or other abuse.
The Elders, Trustees and staff of the Church will cooperate fully with any external investigation and the church will also conduct a thorough review of the matter. In addition, the Elders and Trustees are committed to conducting a full review of our present-day youth protection policies and activities. Our sincere hope is that this review will help the church identify ways to further strengthen our deep commitment to provide a safe environment in which children can grow and worship.
It is our intent to be transparent in our communications, caring toward the presumed victim and his family, and vigilant and proactive to ensure the safety of our children.
You can consult with Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland regarding counseling services by calling: 410-366-1980.
Also, SALI, or the Sexual Assault Legal Institute says a victim can talk to an advocate regarding legal consultation: 301-565-2277.
In Maryland, there is no statute of limitations for pursuing felony sexual child abuse.