Sheffield Church Sends Letter To Members About Sex Abuse Investigation

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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WHNT) - A new day brings new developments in the investigation into a former church music director facing allegations of sexual misconduct with church youth.

In a letter from Sheffield First United Methodist Church to its congregation, Pastor/Parish Relations Chairman Billy Don Anderson outlined the events that led to Music Director Oliver Brazelle's firing.

In the letter, Anderson says a decision was made to confront Brazelle about rumors of sexual misconduct that were circulating.

The letter states "Oliver admitted to us [Anderson and Pastor Zeke Haselden], that he had an inappropriate relationship with a younger member of our church sometime in the 1990s."

The letter states Anderson and Haselden then "informed Oliver that he could no longer serve as an employee of the church."

Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray has also seen the letter.

"I think it's a very good piece of evidence, that doesn't convict him certainly," said Chief Ray.  "But it's certainly a piece of evidence that could be used against him."

Chief Ray says investigators met with a church committee on Wednesday about an internal investigation into Brazelle's alleged actions.  Ray said that meeting was also successful.

"We do have the names of what we believe to be three victims," said Chief Ray. "I do have to emphasis none of these victims have come forward. They have not come to us, the police to file any complaints or anything to that nature. They are reporting this through a third party."

Ray says the alleged victims have a big decision to make about coming forward.  He says it could affect them, their families and their community.

According to a release sent out Thursday afternoon by the church, in 2003, it was documented that Oliver Brazelle had been questioned by church leaders about an incident involving inappropriate sexual contact in the 1970s.  No victim ever came forward to police in that incident, so no charges were ever filed.

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