Polk minister, nephew charged with sexual assault

| September 5, 2009

AUBURNDALE, FL — A volunteer church minister and his 18-year-old nephew sexually abused a 12-year-old girl they met at the church, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

35-year-old Clevon Ghent managed a cleaning business owned by the Born Again Church of God and Christ in Auburndale, and also worked as a volunteer minister, according to the church pastor.

Investigators say Ghent met the 12-year-old girl at church and asked her babysit his 4 kids, one of whom is the same age as the victim, last July. On the ride home he told the victim he knew she was sexually active with his nephew, 18-year-old Gernard Jones. Detectives say Jones had sexually abused the victim while he was parked in her driveway in May or June.

Jones, who also met the victim at church, was waiting at Ghent’s house when they arrived, detectives said. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Ghent had Jones take his kids on a walk, but when the victim asked to go along, Ghent told her that she was "grounded" and had to stay in the house with him.

After Jones and the kids left, Ghent performed sexual acts on the victim, detectives said. Investigators allege Ghent assaulted the girl a second time later that month, inside his son’s bedroom.

On August 26th, both Ghent and Jones sexually abused the victim after Ghent and Jones had offered to drive the girl home from Bible study, but instead drove her to a secluded area near Reynolds Road in Lakeland, where both men assaulted her several times.

Two days later the girl told her teachers at school she had sex with "Minister Ghent" and Jones. The teachers then told the girl’s father, who called the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Both men were arrested Thursday and taken to the Polk County Jail.

Ghent is charged with 5 counts of sexual battery, while Jones is facing three counts of lewd battery. Both are being held on no bond.

"There are no words to describe the horror that one feels when reading about the abuse this 12-year-old girl suffered at the hands of a man she trusted as an elder in her church," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

"Not only was he in a well-respected position within a sacred place, he has four children of his own – one of whom is the same age as her. This so-called minister, and his nephew Gernard Jones, are now behind bars where they belong – and where they can’t hurt any more innocent children."

Judd said the victim kept a journal where she talked of other men who had sexually abused her. The investigation into those allegations are on-going and more arrests are possible.



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Category: Church Security

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