My thanks to the Charleston Gazette for this story.
By Alison Knezevich
WINFIELD – A man accused of sexually abusing four young girls in Putnam County worked as a pastor and could have more victims, police said.
Paul D. Smeltzer, 40, formerly of Scott Depot, has been arrested twice in the past year on charges that he sexually abused female relatives: first in May 2007, and again last Thursday.
Smeltzer “was involved with” church activities in Kanawha and Putnam counties, Putnam Sheriff Mark Smith said Tuesday. He worked as a pastor at one of the churches.
Smeltzer might have used his position to gain church members’ trust, Smith said.
“Many times, people who have this kind of inclination, they get in a position like that to perpetrate their crime,” Smith said.
Smith would not name the churches where Smeltzer worked, saying that would “make the churches a victim, too.”
But according to published reports, Smeltzer became a part-time pastor in December 2006 at First Christian Church of St. Albans Disciples of Christ.
A man who answered at the church Tuesday afternoon quickly hung up the phone after Smeltzer’s name was mentioned.
Smeltzer also “had some kind of computer business,” Smith said.
In his most recent arrest, Smeltzer is accused of taping himself sexually abusing three relatives who were staying at his house on McCloud Road in Scott Depot. The girls are now between the ages of 7 and 9.
When he was arrested last week, Smeltzer was living on Washington Street East in Charleston, according to court papers. He is charged with three counts each of first-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse by a parent or guardian.
Last May, Smeltzer was arrested in Putnam County after a different female relative told police he sexually assaulted her when she was between the ages of 6 and 7, and again when she was between the ages of 12 and 13.
Last week, a Putnam grand jury indicted him on charges related to those allegations. But prosecutors dismissed the indictment after police discovered new evidence that more girls were victimized, Smith said.