Oliver Brazelle, arrested Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, on charges of sex abuse and sodomy, admitted to church officials at the First United Methodist Church of Sheffield, Ala., where he had been music director, that he had had an inappropriate relationship with a youth in the 1990s. Church officials dismissed him at that time, July 2012, even though police had discontinued their investigation then. (Google Maps)Oliver Brazelle, 79, of Sheffield, Ala., a former music minister who has also worked as a youth minister, was arrested Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, and charged with sexual abuse and sodomy. (Lauderdale County Detention Center)
SHEFFIELD, Alabama Oliver Brazelle, 79, the former music director at the in Sheffield, was arrested Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, and charged with second-degree sexual abuse and one-count of second-degree sodomy, according to officials in Lauderdale County.
Brazelle had been barred in 2003 from directing youth choirs by the Methodist bishop for North Alabama, according to records released during the investigation by the , because of allegations of inappropriate relationships with young people alleged to have occurred in the 1970s. When the Sheffield police opened an investigation in July 2012, Brazelle admitted to church officials that he had had an inappropriate relationship with a youth in the past. Church officials fired Brazelle on July 27, 2012.
The church held a prayer service for healing a few days after Brazelle s dismissal. Phones were not answered at the church when The Huntsville Times called for a comment the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 9.
Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray told Florence s that he hoped the fact that Brazelle has now been charged might embolden other victims to come forward. Ray said that his investigation in July 2012 was stymied after a month because the person who made the initial accusation to them would not agree to come forward.
Officially, we never had a victim, Ray told the .
Brazelle is free on a ,000 bond. Both of the charges against him are felonies. Second-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony, is punishable by 1-10 years in prison. Second-degree sodomy, a Class B felony, carries a penalty of 2-20 years in prison.
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