SC pastor arrested on 30 felony charges including ‘indecent liberties with a child’

PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) – An 86-year-old pastor is out on bond, awaiting trial for 30 felony charges stemming from his time working at his church’s school.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia arrested Albert Benjamin Wharton at his home in Pickens County on Dec. 8, 2023. Sheriff Stephan Smith said his deputies were assisted by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.

Wharton’s charges include 22 felony counts of indecent liberties with a child under the age of 13 while in a custodial position and eight felony counts of aggravated sexual assault. Smith said the incidents happened between 1981 and 1997 at Victory Baptist Church’s Berachah Christian Academy in Warsaw, VA.

According to the church’s website, Wharton was the lead pastor there from 1976 to 2002.

Wharton worked as a pastor at churches in Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida during the last 40 years, Smith said.

Smith said the arrest was the result of a 15-month investigation, which started after a victim came forward. The FBI’s behavioral analysis unit assisted in the investigation.

After his arrest, Wharton was extradited to Richmond County. He’s since been released on bail, Smith said, and is on house arrest in Pickens County.

As part of the conditions of his release, Wharton cannot attend, lead or pastor at a church.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is asked to contact Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Investigator James Bruce at 804-333-3611.