Church teacher charged with molestation

| March 27, 2010

SUMMERFIELD – A music teacher at a church school was charged Friday with four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, one count of lewd and lascivious conduct, 12 counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition and one count of child abuse.

David Solomon Lanham, 29, turned himself in at the Marion County Jail at 1:50 p.m. He remained behind bars Friday night. He declined to comment for this article.

He is a teacher at Royal Child Academy in Summerfield, and is a member of the Open Door Community Church, where the school is located, at 5200 S.E. 145th St. According to the church Web site, Lanham is listed as a worship leader/design coordinator.

He reportedly has been on administrative leave since March 15.

Officials believe the incidents, which involved kissing, fondling, other sexual acts and physical abuse, involve four children ages 5 to 11. The abuse began in January 2009, authorities said.

The investigation began March 13, when the parents of one of the victims contacted the Sheriff's Office. Two days later, the child was interviewed at Kimberly's Cottage, also known as the Marion County Children's Advocacy Center. The juvenile told officials that Lanham made him touch Lanham's private area over his clothing.

Lead Detective Miriam Diaz spoke to the 5-year-old and his parents. The parents told Diaz their child informed them about the incident and they removed him from Royal Child Academy, then contacted law enforcement.

The 5-year-old boy earlier had told another juvenile about the encounter. Diaz went to the school and talked with that child. She was told the 5-year-old said he squeezed Lanham's genitals three times.

Diaz was told by another alleged victim that Lanham had twisted his arms behind his back and ordered him to lie down, even though he was already on the ground.

Continuing her investigation, Diaz found another child who told her that Lanham may have kissed him and made him touch his private area once. He said Lanham apologized. The child said the incident occurred during Easter at the school.

On Thursday, Diaz located another alleged victim, an 11-year-old boy, who told her that in June 2009 he attended summer camp at the school for two weeks. He said while in a bathroom, Lanham touched his private area and performed a sexual act on him. The child said such activity occurred 12 to 15 times during camp.

After camp, the child said, Lanham visited him at his home and, with his parents' permission, took him out to eat to "help him with the church functions," the arrest report notes.

He said Lanham took him to a chocolate factory, a dollar store and Subway, and they visited the school, where he was again molested. The incidents, the child said, occurred between June and December 2009.

The Open Door Community Church Web site biography on Lanham states he comes from a "musical family" and was taught to play piano by his mother at age 4. After high school, it states, he was at Chili's After School Coral at Colinas Del Norte Elementary School in Rio Rancho, N.M.

Evangelical Bible Mission International, which operates a number of organizations, including Royal Child Academy, was founded by G.T. Bustin in 1940. His son, Gerald Bustin, is president of EBM International and senior pastor at Open Door Community Church.

A woman who answered the telephone Friday afternoon at the church said they would make no comment. She referred all inquiries to attorney Henry Ferro.

Ferro, reached by phone Friday, said he represents the church, not Lanham.

A woman whose son attended the academy up until Friday told the Star-Banner late in the day that roughly three months ago, she noticed he would not use the bathroom at the school.

"He would say he did not want to potty over there," said the woman, covering her mouth with her hands and crying. "Now I know why."

She said her son saw Lanham in his underwear at the school in December.

The woman's other sons, ages 11 and 8, who do not live with her, visited recently and told her that Lanham talked "funny" to them while they were at church. She said she told them to stay away from him.

The woman went to the church Friday to talk with Bustin, but he was not there.

She told the Star-Banner she was able to reach him by phone and the pastor told her Lanham has been on administrative leave since March 15.

Bustin told the woman they plan to have a meeting with their attorney at the church next week.

Ferro confirmed there will be a meeting. Asked if it would be about Lanham's arrest, he said that is between him and the people having the meeting.

Davie Richardson, 43, and son Davie Jr., 17, said they are members of the church and have heard rumors about Lanham and boys, but classify them as just rumors.

Lanham, they said, leads the choir, hence his status as worship leader, but he is not a preacher and does not preach at the church. They said Lanham is in charge of the church's lighting.

The duo described Lanham as "a nice guy" and a "hard worker who does anything for the church."

"This has nothing to do with the church and the pastor. I go to the church for God, not the people. He seems like a nice guy to me," the elder Richardson said.

Sheriff's officials are asking anyone who may have been a victim of abuse to call Detective Diaz at 368-3515, the Sheriff's Office at 732-9111 or Crime Stoppers at 368-STOP, or visit

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Category: Church Security