LAURENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Laurens County Sheriff’s Office officials said an Upstate pastor, who was found to be a tier III registered sex offender, was arrested for failing to register.
According to sheriff’s office news release, several members of the Bethlehem Grove Baptist Church, located in Clinton, went to the sheriff’s office to voice their concerns about their pastor, Henry Masten, II.
An investigation into their concerns revealed that Masten is a tier III registered sex offender out of Richland County.
“The Sheriff’s Office also found that Mr. Masten had not registered his employment in Laurens County with our agency or the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, therefore a warrant for his arrest was issued for failure to appear,” according to the sheriff’s office’s news release.
Masten was arrested at the church on Aug. 1 and he was booked into the Johnson Detention Center.
According to the release, Masten was convicted in Ohio in 2014 for gross sexual imposition and was also convicted in Richland County in 2007 for second-degree burglary.
Sheriff’s Office officials said a charge of failing to register can carry a fine of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of up to 366 days.
According to the release, the tier III sex offender classification is given for offenses including sexual assaults involving sexual acts regardless of victim age, sexual contact offenses against children below the age of 13, nonparental kidnapping of minors and attempts or conspiracies to commit those offenses.
“This type of incident is concerning. All calls for service are taken seriously and handled professionally,” Sheriff Don Reynolds said. “This office responds to all types of calls and handles them appropriately, regardless of who is involved. We serve and protect fairly and impartially in our actions.”
In regards to whether or not Masten will remain the pastor of Bethlehem Grove Baptist Church, sheriff’s office officials said that decision is “at the discretion of the church itself.”