CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A pastor at a church in Granite Falls is facing child exploitation charges, the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday.
An investigation was launched following a tip that was received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding 51-year-old Ashley Crouse.
Crouse was arrested after two warrants were executed last Friday for both his home on Helton Road in Granite Falls and his place of employment, the New Vision Baptist Church on Grace Chapel Road, according to the sheriff’s report.
Church leaders told Queen City News Crouse was fired from his position Sunday, two days after his arrest.
Investigators said items were seized to be forensically examined for material depicting child exploitation involving children between 8 and 10 years old. Crouse faces multiple charges including four counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a child, with additional charges expected, those familiar with the case said.
The FBI, North Carolina SBI, and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office were among the departments involved in the investigation.
Crouse is being held under a $1 million secured bond at the Caldwell County Detention Center. His first court appearance was scheduled for Monday in Lenoir in District Court.