East Peoria pastor charged with sex abuse of minor

Sharon Woods Harris

An East Peoria youth pastor was charged with two felony counts Thursday in Tazewell County’s 10th Judicial Circuit Court for allegedly molesting a minor who attended the church where he served.

William D. Richardson, 33, of 111 Cracklewood, East Peoria, is charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between the ages of 13 and 18 over whom he had a position of trust or authority, a Class 2 felony.

Richardson is free on bond.

According to court records, Richardson was a youth pastor at the Rock Church, 1081 Upper Spring Bay Road, East Peoria, when he allegedly became involved with the young girl during the months of January through March.

On April 17, according to court records, the father of the victim contacted the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department regarding some sexually explicit text messages on his daughter’s cell phone. The father said he recognized the phone number as Richardson’s.

The victim’s father brought the phone to the church and gave it to Lead Pastor Chuck Tate, who kept it for about five days before returning it to the father, court records said.

Tazewell County detectives examined the phone and allegedly found the text messages and explicit sexual photos of both the victim and Richardson.

The victim was interviewed at the Tazewell County Children’s Advocacy Center, where she denied any involvement with Richardson other than a “father/daughter” relationship. She told police that Richardson’s contact information was stored in her phone under a name containing the word “pimp” and that he had entered it that way, court records said.

In a later interview with the victim, her mother and an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigator, the victim allegedly admitted to sending an explicit picture of herself and receiving a picture from Richardson, court records said.

In an interview with detectives on April 22,  Richardson allegedly admitted to a sexual relationship with the victim at his home and in the parking lot of the East Peoria Walmart, court records said. He allegedly told police he knew what he was doing was wrong but that he “got carried away,” court records said.

Tate was also interviewed by detectives. He told police he had been aware of the text messages since early April, that he had met with Richardson to discuss the issue and that he had spoken with Richardson’s wife on the phone, court records said.

Tate told detectives that Richardson was removed as youth pastor but that he is still a member of the church, court records said, and the youth group was informed on April 15 that Richardson had been removed as youth pastor for inappropriate conduct.

According to court records, detectives also spoke with a friend of the victim, who said she had covered for the victim while she went to Richardson’s car at Planet X Rollerworld in Pekin.

Pekin Daily Times