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Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock is coming under fire for serious incidents at a summer camp he ran in Maryland, including his own arrest for impeding a child abuse investigation.
Warnock, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church since 2005, previously worked for five years as pastor of a Baltimore church whose camp was plagued with abuse and health code violations.
In 2002, Warnock and a colleague were arrested for interfering with a police investigation of abuse claims.
Warnock, then 33, was taken away in handcuffs after he interrupted a police interview with a camp counselor about possible abuse and blocked a camper from directing officers to other witnesses, according to a resurfaced Baltimore Sun article.
About a year later, Camp Farthest Out in rural Carroll County was shut down by the Maryland Department of Health, which refused to issue a certificate to operate due to a poor health inspection that found 11 violations and the fact that the camp failed to report five findings of child abuse or neglect after an investigation by the Department of Social Services into camp director Brian Carter, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
Health violations reportedly included inadequate lifeguard coverage at the camp’s pool, lack of CPR certifications, insufficient camper health information, not doing background checks on staff, and lack of approval for plumbing or electrical systems.
In a 2003 deal with the state to reopen Camp Farthest Out, the church agreed to fire Carter and two subordinates. Camp Farthest Out lawyer Paul Shelton said the camp’s leadership was unaware of the abuse findings against Carter.
Warnock’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Senate candidate said in 2002 that his efforts to disrupt police interviews at the camp were reasonable.
“It’s just unfortunate that our children had to see their pastors carried away in handcuffs,” Warnock said. “My concern simply had to do with the presence of counsel.”
But State Trooper Diane Barry told the Sun, “I’ve never encountered resistance like that at all.”
The Free Beacon reports that Warnock left Baltimore’s Douglas Memorial Community Church at around the time a lawsuit filed in 2003 was settled. The subject of the lawsuit is unknown and case records are missing, state officials told the paper.
The political content of Warnock’s sermons — including that the US must “repent for its worship of whiteness” — has been a focus of Republican criticism ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff election against Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Control of the Senate hinges on that race and another Georgia runoff between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.
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