Kerry Michael Stephenson

Kerry Michael Stephenson

ASHVILLE – Thanks to some concerns of a safety team from a local church, an Etowah County man accused of multiple sex-related crimes is back behind bars for violating the conditions of his bond.

Kerry Michael Stephenson, 31, was arrested last year by Southside police. In September 2018, he was indicted on charges of second-degree sodomy, second-degree sexual abuse, electronic solicitation of a child, transmitting obscene material to a child and possession of child pornography.

While out on bond, Stephenson was ordered to avoid being around children under the age of 19 or having access to a smartphone or the Internet.

When Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree discovered Stephenson had been around young people at Flow Church in Ashville recently, he ordered Stephenson to be picked up by law enforcement. 

Etowah authorities arrested Stephenson on July 10, and the suspect was taken to the Etowah County Detention Center, where he is being held without bond. No trial date has been set. 

Shane Bearden, pastor of Flow Church, said he appreciates the hard work and diligence of the church safety team. He said one of the men on the safety team is a St. Clair County Sheriff’s officer.

“Through our rigorous protocols dealing with anyone who serves on a team, especially in the areas of student ministry and kids ministry, we were able to cooperate with law enforcement’s investigation and swiftly discovered the conditions of his bond were being broken,” Bearden said. “We were on to him and had kind, gracious conversations with him. But based on his legal trouble, we handled the situation as swiftly as possible. 

“We have surveillance equipment in place that captures every area inside our building. Etowah County officials asked for our surveillance video, and within just a few hours, they saw where he indeed had been around people under the age of 19. We also had several witnesses tell us he indeed was using a smartphone.”

Reach Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.

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