The City of Memphis is investigating an employee, named Chris Carwile, who works at a Memphis library, and is accused of abusing children while he worked with church youth almost two decades ago.
Three men filed a police report stating Carwile sexually abused them about 20 years ago while he was an associate youth pastor Immanuel Baptist Church in Germantown. Immanuel later changed its name to the Church at Schilling Farms and then moved to Collierville under the continued leadership of Pastor Scott Payne.
The church fired Carwile, but admits it never reported the alleged abuse to law enforcement. Carwile went on to work at another church and is now employed at the city’s main library on Poplar. Last week, a city spokesperson says he was placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation.
The three men met exclusively with the Local I-Team. They say they are speaking out on social media and in the news now to prevent other children from possibly being victimized. They also say they would like to see changes in the Baptist Church to ensure allegations of child abuse are reported to law enforcement. The Local I-Team has repeatedly attempted to contact Carwile, but he has not responded.
“This has damaged me for the last 18 years. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, I’m damaged because of it,” said Stubblefield.
Michael Hansen’s suffering grew so great he attempted suicide by deeply slitting his wrists in his parent’s bathroom. “In 2007 desperate, depressed, anxious, worried, alone, I finally tried to kill myself,” Hansen said.
Hansen’s brother Brooks Hansen said the experience affected his relationship with God. “It blew my world up. Struggling, how could God let this happen to me,” said Brooks Hansen.
The men claim Carwile assaulted them as teenagers while he was their associate youth pastor at what was then known as Immanuel Baptist Church in Germantown.
“It was November 27, 1998, and he invited me to spend the night at his house. That’s where the abuse happened,” Stubblefield said.
Their stories are very similar. Each claim Carwile individually invited them to his parents’ home, where he showed them porn. They say Carwile refused to let them sleep on a couch or floor.
“He said sleep in my bed because the oils from your skin will get on the couch and on the carpet. My mom loves her carpet,” said Michael Hansen.
They all claim they woke to Carwile’s assault.
“I remember falling asleep and waking up to having his hand in my shorts and touching me,” said Stubblefield.
“I woke up to have his hand down my boxers basically rubbing my private area and freaked out in my head,” said Brooks Hansen.
“It was happening some more but much, much worse … (his hand was) in my underwear,” says Michael Hansen.
They say after the abuse, they told the then pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Scott Payne. Payne fired Carwile, but admits he didn’t report the alleged abuse to law enforcement because he only heard general allegations of inappropriate touching. Payne said he didn’t realize he was required to report claims of abuse.
Tennessee statutory law requires every person immediately report harm if that person has knowledge of, or is called upon to render aid, to any child, or if the child suffers from, or has sustained any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition, and if the harm is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect or that, on the basis of available information, reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect. Statute annotations reflect the broad reporting statutory requirement went into effect in 1985, thirteen years before the men say they suffered abuse.
Payne asked for the men’s forgiveness on camera. “To these young men I would say I still love you. I am sorry that you went through what you did. I am sorry I didn’t do more to protect you. It is terrible for anyone to have to go through that. Please forgive me.”
“I really, really struggled for years to figure out what the gospel meant to me and if I still believed In the gospel, said Brooks Hansen.
The Local I-Team learned that Carwile worked at the main library on Poplar as a broadcast program coordinator. A city spokesperson said he is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the claims.
The three men say their social media posts speaking out about the abuse resulted in five men contacting them who claim they were also abused by Carwile when he later worked at Cherokee Baptist Church.
The Local I-Team has repeatedly attempted to contact Carwile about these claims, but he has not responded.
If you experienced or are aware of child sexual abuse, please contact police immediately.
If you are aware of or experienced any child abuse similar to that of the men in this story please also contact reporter Maria Hallas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 901-500-0531.