Nov. 7—The pastor of a Granite Falls church has been charged with sex crimes against children and is being held in the county jail under a $1 million secured bond.
Ashely James Crouse, 51, of 4663 Helton Road in Granite Falls, was arrested Friday and charged with four counts of second-degree exploitation of a child following a search of Crouse’s home and New Vision Baptist Church, 4858 Grace Chapel Road, Granite Falls, according to Caldwell County deputies. Crouse has been employed as the pastor of the church, according to LinkedIn.
State Bureau of Investigation agents and Caldwell County sheriff’s deputies executed search warrants at Crouse’s home and the church on Friday, deputies said.
The warrants were obtained after deputies received an exploitation cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to information released by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators seized items from the home and church and will forensically examine the items for material that depicts acts of child exploitation.
Additional charges are expected against Crouse, deputies said.
Crouse was booked in the Caldwell County Detention Center under a $1 million secured bond. Crouse his first appearance in District Court in Lenoir on Monday.
The SBI and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office are members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce Program, which is a multi-jurisdictional coalition of federal, state and local law enforcement that are dedicated to investigating, prosecuting, and developing effective responses to Internet Crimes against Children.