The 21-year-old son of a Tennessee pastor has been charged with simple battery, two counts of third-degree cruelty to children and sexual assault after allegedly placing his penis on the crotch of a 13-year-old boy at a church camp.
Zachary Anderle was working at a camp operated by Chattanooga’s Vineyard Community Church—where his father serves as pastor—as a counselor. The camp was run in Temple, Ga., and according to affidavits from Carroll County, Ga., Anderle “climbed on top of a 13-year-old camper and placed his penis on top of the boy's crotch while other boys were watching. Anderle also slapped the child's face,” reports The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Bud Winderweedle, a member of the church’s investigative committee formed to look into the incident, told The Times Free Press in an email he believes Anderle’s acts were horseplay gone wrong, adding, "Zachary will not be allowed back at any future camp events, as a counselor or otherwise. Also, the church has removed Zachary from the church's band rotation.”
Anderle's attorney, Allen Trapp, said the complaint surfaced after the boys told their parents what had happened, claiming the incident started after Anderle tried to silence the 13-year-old, who was reportedly bullying another child.
"This boy was using a lot of unsavory, sexually charged language. Zach told him to stop repeatedly. When he wouldn't, Zach told him, 'If you do not stop, I will come down there and sleep with you naked,'" Trapp said. "And he actually jumped on him and all the other boys laughed and thought it was funny."
Winderweedle said the camp director tried to apologize to the 13-year-old's mother and offer counseling, but she did not respond.
"We would love to talk to her if she wishes, but we also want to fully respect her right to avoid speaking with us if that is her wish,' he said in the email.
"The family at issue was not a part of the church, which makes our regret and embarrassment over this incident even greater," he said. "The families within the church all viewed the incident as horseplay -- horseplay which we condemn -- and, to our knowledge, none have withdrawn from the church. We nevertheless remain heartbroken over the entire incident."