Nashville, Tennessee police have arrested a long-time anti-LGBT pastor who has been charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual battery for alleged molestation of multiple boys, WBRC News reported Friday.
Matthew Dennis Patterson, 45, who goes by Denny, resigned from Nolensville Road Baptist Church on September 24 and moved to Pennsylvania. Three days later, members of the congregation went to the police precinct with complaints about his requests to “engage in strange activities” with children, authorities said.
Children at the church told adult members that Patterson had asked them to sit on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear, according to a police statement.
After interviewing multiple church and staff members, police said the detectives identified multiple victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998-2017. Police did not say how old the children were at the time of the alleged abuse.
Patterson has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. Each count is linked to a different child, according to police.
Police said more charges relating to additional victims “are anticipated” as the investigation continues.
Patterson was a vocal opponent of anti-discrimination bills considered by the Nashville Metro Council in 2003. The measures were designed to protect jobs and housing for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
“We want to make sure we keep the pressure on, let them know that anytime they bring this up, we’ll be down here to oppose it,” Patterson told The Tennessean in an article published Feb. 5, 2003.
Nashville police arrested Patterson in Pennsylvania on March 8 — he refused to talk to investigators. Patterson was extradited to Nashville on Friday, and his bond was set at $100,000.