SEDGWICK — Kevin Berry, who resigned his position at First Christian Church of Sedgwick, was arrested on charges of indecent liberties with a child and booked into the Harvey County Detention Center in July. He bonded out of jail the next day.
What landed him in jail facing criminal charges came into clearer focus this week when The Newton Kansan obtained a redacted copy of a probable cause affidavit following an open records request in Harvey County District Court.
According to the affidavit, Berry was arrested after an investigation by the Harvey County Sheriff's Office involving a 14-year-old girl who was interviewed by the Heart-To-Heart Child Advocacy Center in Newton.
The girl, whose name and initials were redacted from the affidavit, told investigators about several instances when Berry made her feel uncomfortable while he was on the ministerial team at First Christian Church.
Berry began ministering in Sedgwick in 2015, according to the First Christian Church of Sedgwick website. From 2009 to 2015, he was a minister at Amoret Christian Church in Amoret, Missouri.
The girl told the investigator that “Berry made her very uncomfortable the way he would regularly stare at her breasts when talking to her, would adjust and fondle his penis and crotch area while talking to her and regularly try to visit with her alone.”
In the affidavit, the girl told of two specific instances — one at Berry's home and the other at the church. She told investigators that Berry would touch her on her back and leg, and rub her back area, until she would move away on multiple occupations. This culminated during a meeting at his home, during which he allegedly sat next to her on a couch and put his hand on the upper side of her leg.
“Removing his hand only when his wife came to sit beside him,” the affidavit said.
According to he affidavit, Berry told the girls in the group that he “has lust for other women,” while looking directly at the girl and her cousin.
Then came October of 2017. According to the victim's testimony in the affidavit, several other girls in the group claim they had similar experiences with Berry.
During a fall gathering, there was a pool set up on the church property, with a slide into the pool. The victim reported going down the slide and into the pool, and her clothing getting very wet. She was wearing a “thin blouse” which allowed her pink bra to show through. She chose to put on a jacket to cover herself.
According to the affidavit, when she was getting ready to leave the event, Berry began speaking to her — staring at her chest.
“She reported that he opened her jacket and stared at her breasts, and said 'not too bad.' … As he opened her jacket, his hand cupped the side of her breast and he was fondling his penis on the outside of his clothes.”
The investigation into allegations against Berry was months long, recognized in a March 15 letter from the church board. That letter referenced a letter in October of 2017. In March the board stated “the matter has been turned over to the proper authorities and an investigation is being conducted. Our judicial system operates on the premise that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and that is also the belief of our leadership at [First Christian Church].”
The board also stated that county attorney David Yoder requested a second investigation. That investigation was done by the Harvey County Sheriff and Sedgwick Police Department.
According to the letter, Berry volunteered at that time to not attend any children’s activities at the church. Berry started personal counseling and training on leading and appropriate interaction with children and youth. Until that training was complete, Berry was not to participate in any activities with children and youth at the church.
In addition to those actions, the church instituted new policies in the wake of the investigation being launched.
In December the Church board adopted a Children and Youth Mentoring and Protection Policy that includes a personal code of conduct for all children and youth workers. Each person working with children and/or youth must now submit to a background check. To ensure full compliance with the code of conduct, First Christian Church will now conduct official training of all youth and children program volunteers. All existing volunteers in the children’s ministry were required complete this training and all new volunteers will complete the training prior to working with children.