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PCSSD teacher caught up in pedophile scandal at Immanuel Baptist Church. Her relationship with a minor under investigation.


PCSSD teacher Reagan Gray is being investigated by LRPD

Since December 10, 2023, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has published around 20 articles about Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, AR and an ongoing scandal involving sexual abuse committed by adults upon children and the coverup of that abuse.

Immanuel Baptist Church ("IBC") is perched on a hill near the intersection of Shackleford Road and West Markham Street in the western part of Little Rock overlooking Interstate I-430.

Their campus includes the old Kroger store that they have converted into their City Center that they describe as "a ministry of Immanuel Baptist Church for the city. Our purpose is to establish environments that foster healthy, restorative relationships and opportunities to mobilize people to change their world."

The most recent scandal at the church involves a Pulaski County Special School District ("PCSSD") teacher, Reagan Gray, who was involved in the music ministry at the church and was a volunteer worker in the children's ministry . 

Reagan Gray

Sometime in 2020 when Gray was a choral teacher at Little Rock Christian Academy, she began grooming a then 15 year old boy that was also a church member. The boy did not attend LRCA.

 

Gray started sending the boy inappropriate text messages and when those messages were discovered, IBC suspended her as a volunteer with the children's ministry at the church. IBC kept this a secret and did not file any report with DHS or LRPD at that time.

IBC assigned Gray an "accountability partner". Conveniently it was Ashley Smith, the wife of IBC senior pastor Steven Smith, no doubt to keep the circle of knowledge small. Gray's suspension didn't last long and let her resume volunteer activities with children at the church.

Gray, unfazed by the discovery of her salacious relationship with the kid, the suspension from duties and an "accountability partner" to counsel and guide her in pious behavior, persisted in pursuing the child and resumed texting him and started sending him nude photos of herself. Then Gray accomplished her goal of seducing the minor  and initiated sexual contact with him.

In September of 2023, Gray's illegal and immoral conduct with the minor was presented to Pastor Smith. Gray admitted that she had physical contact (a/k/a sexual contact with the minor) and her volunteer involvement at the church was terminated.  Smith made no report to LRPD or DHS, same as back in 2020.

Gray left her job in September 2023  at Little Rock Christian Academy but easily got work at another school district.

In October 2023, Gray went to work for PCSSD as a choral teacher at Sylvan Hills Middle School. How she explained her departure from LRCA is uncertain as PCSSD has not yet responded to our request for a copy of her personnel file and other records (but they confirmed that Gray was the suspended teacher - thank you Valerie Bailey!). We know that Smith did not make a report to DHS as if he had, they would have initiated an investigation and it would have triggered red flags when DHS ran the registry check for PCSSD when they hired her. And LRPD would have been notified by the state to conduct an investigation for possible criminal charges.

 

The improper and illegal relationship with the minor was not reported to LRPD and DHS (LRPD subsequently made the required notification to DHS & ASP Crimes Against Children Division) until January 20, 2024, after the newspaper had exposed IBC covering up abusers. When PCSSD found out about what Gray had been up to and LRPD's investigation, they placed Gray on administrative leave.

At this time the LRPD criminal investigation concerning Gray is ongoing.

It must be pointed out that LRPD failed to redact the phone number of the now 19 year old victim (he was 15 at the time the illegal and immoral relationship was initiated by Gray) and we were able to confirm his identity.

Photos of the kid posted on Facebook shows that he looked like the character Ralphie, from A Christmas Story than the teen making those special deliveries in the movie Loverboy.

We wonder how Gray was able to justify her exploitation of a minor for her deviant sexual gratification and sing praise songs on Sunday mornings?

Gray has taken down her Facebook page at the time this story was published.  Her YouTube channel was still up.

https://www.youtube.com/@reagangray6214

The IBC senior pastor has defended Gray and according to published reports said nothing was illegal about her grooming and predatory sexual behavior and has  attempted to justify her behavior  by saying the 15 year old had a driver's license and it was a consensual relationship. In our opinion that makes Pastor Smith a sick, twisted reprobate and he should be run out of that church and town on a rail.

Steven Smith - IBC senior pastor since 2017

Smith has placed blame for the scandal on Satan and the whole world, but not on his pedophile parishioners and staff, holding them accountable and himself for not reporting incidents.

Smith, a mandated reported under Arkansas law, claims he notified DHS about Gray and allegedly DHS told him that since the child was 16 at the time of his report and was in a consensual relationship with the minor,  it would probably not be investigated. Smith also claims he spoke with the church legal counsel for personnel matters and they told him age was an important factor in whether it was a mandated reporting incident. Age is a factor and according to Arkansas law 18 years is the cut off (see mandated reporting requirement images that follow bellow).  Perhaps that shyster and Pastor Smith need to take this training...


We say that Smith is a liar. The DHS hotline call taker is not the person that determines if a matter will be investigated and would never tell a caller anything other than they would make a report and that he would get a letter from DHS letting him know if the matter was substantiated or unsubstantiated.

 

Previous Incidents

IBC has a documented history of supporting sexual offenders, suppressing information about them and actually raising funds for their legal defense.

▉ In 2018 Mark Aderholt, a former associate pastor at IBC was arrested for sexual assault. Aderholt had been IBC's missions and evangelism associate pastor from December 2009 through July 2006.

In July 2018 Aderholt was arrested in  South Carolina under a warrant issued in Tarrant County, Texas. The indictment by a Tarrant County grand jury includes four counts of sexual assault of a child under 17. All felony charges.

Mark Aderholt -  a former associate pastor at IBC

IBC member Beth Coulson, a former Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge, and her husband Deacon Mike Coulson rallied behind Aderholt. With assistance from another church member Coulson set up a way for other members to contribute to Aderholt's legal defense. Emails were sent out with instructions and Coulson wrote, "Mike and I are totally supportive of Mark and his family as are many others". 

The Coulson's made no similar plea to provide financial support for the victim. Not sure they even offered thoughts and prayers.

Mike and Beth Coulson

Aderholt was able to score a plea deal and get his felony sexual assault charges changed to assault causing bodily injury, a class A misdemeanor. He served 30 days in jail, had 24 month's probation, a $4000 fine. An his record was wiped clean.

Here's what his victim said:

"Over the course of six months in 1996/1997 when I was 16 and 17 years old, a 25-year-old Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary student named Mark Aderholt sexually abused and assaulted me as a minor.

In 2007, I turned him into his employer, the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission arm, the International Mission Board (IMB) who investigated him and found my accusations credible.  He was allowed to resign and went on to be a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and then an executive in the South Carolina SBC. He listed people from the IMB as references on his resume.

In 2018 I learned he was never reported to authorities, so I reported him. "

Here's a link to her website with more details:  https://annemariemiller.com/2021/07/02/mark-aderholts-criminal-record-is-wiped-clean-today-and-why-i-supported-the-plea-deal-instead-of-a-trial/

▉  Patrick Stephen Miller was an assistant pastor at IBC and was the Assistant Director of Children's Ministries from May 2014 through January 2016.

Patrick Stephen Miller - a former IBC assistant pastor

In December 2018 Miller was arrested and charged with second degree assault for molesting a female child in a IBC Sunday school classroom in January 2015.

In January 2022, with the willing assistance from Pulaski County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Justin Harper, Miller was able to get a plea deal and have the  sexual assault charge, a class B felony, reduced to a misdemeanor charge of harassment.

 

Miller attempted to get the criminal case record sealed in 2023 but LRPD was investigating additional complaints about him abusing other children at IBC and he dropped those efforts.

Here's what an attorney representing two of Smith's victims filed with the court.

It turns out that in March 2016, about two months after Miller left his job at IBC, families told IBC leaders that Miller had molested their children.  No records can be found to indicate that IBC alerted the authorities.

Miller was hired (again) as a children's ministry pastor at First Moore Baptist Church ("FMBC") in Moore, Ok after he left IBC in 2016. 

Miller worked there until July 2018. Miller worked there in September 2006 through March 2011 prior to going to work at IBC in August 2011.


That church and congregation thought he was the best. Little did they know.


In a July 31, 2018 letter to parents at FMBC, kids pastor Walter Bradley wrote that Miller was leaving and there would be a gathering to celebrate him.


FMBC also posted on their Facebook page, "Make sure your are in Kids Worship on the 19th to love on Patrick before he leaves!"

FMBC has since removed any reference to Miller from their Facebook page.

FMBC has also stated they never received any information about Miller from IBC when the investigations began in Little Rock.

They issued this statement:

 

IBC had never disclosed to parishioners anything about what Miller did, and try and ascertain if other children has been abused by Miller until after the newspaper exposed the scandal.

It took the reporting of Frank Lockwood to blow the roof off that church to make IBC and its senior pastor to appear to come clean.

In December 2023, IBC sent this statement to a news organization about the Miller incident.

 


More lies from Pastor Smith. The affidavit for Miller's arrest specifically states that "On April 24th, 2018, Child Abuse Hotline referral #1916047 was received." That's two years after IBC found out about Miller. If any reports had been made in 2015 or 2016, that is when the investigation would have started.


LRPD has confirmed that they received no information from IBC in 2015 about Miller. The only report they had was from 2018 and it came from the Child Abuse Hotline as the court filings stated.


It is our understanding that LRPD has found additional victims of Miller's abuse and still has an open investigation. Additional charges are expected to be filed.

News media has had difficultly getting an accurate timeline and information from IBC. What is clear is that they have fought transparency at every step.

According to sources, IBC has lost over 250 members since the newspaper broke the story.

Families that have been members for generations are disgusted with church leadership and their machinations to protect sexual abusers.

IBC is circling the wagons and having Deacons sign non-disclosure agreements,  spending over a $100,000 for unnecessary reviews of policy/procedure and making sure their insurance policy will payoff settlements in the lawsuits that victims and their family are filing.

No doubt wealthy parishioners are behind Smith not being removed or it would have already happened. Like the secular world, money wields power in a church.

IBC's culture of predatory protectionism must be eradicated for it survive.

Honestly we hope it doesn't. 

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 
###

 Here are all of the Miller criminal court case file records.

 ###

 ***UPDATE - 02/29/24***

Valerie Bailey, the Public Information Specialist for PCSSD, who also happened to be an attorney, finally released Gray's personnel file and application.

Bailey, failed to redact information that is specifically referenced as exempt from disclosure under the AFOIA. 

Bailey provided us records that listed Gray's address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security Number, driver's license number and full college transcript - grade and all.

That could get Bailey arrested as it is a criminal offense to release that information.


###

Russ Racop, the author of this report is a former DHS/DCFS investigator and was also an administrator over a DHS/DCFS County Office in Central Arkansas.

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