N. Liberty man arrested for inappropriate contact with multiple children
A youth church leader is under investigation for allegedly having inappropriate contact with children.
32-year-old Benjamin Craig Tweedt, of North Liberty is charged with one count of sexual abuse third degree, two counts of lascivious acts with a child, three counts of indecent contact with a child, and two counts of lascivious conduct with a minor.
According to police, it is alleged that Tweedt had multiple one-on-one sessions as a youth church leader with four victims over 10 years. Some of the sessions occurred on church retreats or in victims' bedrooms. Parkview Church removed Tweedt from their student ministry as soon as they were aware of the situation.
"We're grieving for the families of the victims that have been involved in this situation" said Doug Schillinger, the lead pastor at Parkview Church.
Schillinger said he wants the truth to be exposed, justice carried out and compassion extended to the victims and their families. Church leaders told the congregation what happened, who was responsible and what they were doing about it. The lead pastor said when he first heard of the abuse, he was shocked because it does not reflect their values or policies at all.
"Again, of the hundreds of volunteers in our school districts, teachers that do it right, that even in spite of good policies there's one that could go off and it's very troubling to me" said Schillinger.
Coralville and North Liberty Police have been working together on the case. So far, there's no evidence to suggest that other people knew the abuse was happening. North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga said the victims were very brave to come forward.
"First I would hope that there is more of an understanding of why this happens or how this happens, you know taking the shame away from being a survivor of sexual assault and making those reports" said Chief Venenga.
Police stressed how important it is for parents and their kids to talk about things that go on at school, at home, and at church. The police investigation is ongoing. Pastor Schillinger said their volunteer policies are strong but they are reviewing them to see if they need to make changes. Call North Liberty Police at 319-625-5724 if you have information that can help police in this investigation.