Henry “Hank” Keith Davis, 57, pastor of the Church of the Harvest, was arrested late last week by Polk County Sheriff’s Department detectives after the case was presented to a Polk County grand jury, according to information provided by detective Brian Fields.
“Allegations surfaced that he had inappropriate sexual contact with a girl under the age of 16 while on a youth mission trip to the Parksville Lake area of Polk County,” Fields said.
The victim confided in two adults about the alleged incidents, the detective explained.
The information was then given to the Department of Children’s Services and an interview was done with the victim, according to Fields.
Davis was released from the Polk County Jail after posting a $20,000 bond.
Cleveland attorney James Logan, who is representing Davis said he is awaiting further information about the charges.
“We have not received any information regarding the accusation in Polk County except what has been submitted by news media reports,” Logan said.
“Mr. Davis will enter a plea of not guilty and hopefully through the normal process of the criminal justice system, learn the identity of those who have made the criminal allegations and we will properly respond.”
Davis is expected to appear Monday in Polk County General Sessions Court.
Sexual assault charges have been brought against Davis in the past but he has never been convicted, according to Logan.
Davis was arrested in 2001 by Hamilton County authorities and charged with felony sexual battery. The charge stemmed from an allegation regarding Davis attacking a female under age 18, at her Ooltewah home.
Davis was alleged to have thrown the female to the floor and punched her repeatedly in the chest.
In March 2002, Davis pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault and battery in a Hamilton County Criminal Court. Unlawful sexual contact charges were dismissed “after the state requested the court consider the lesser charge.”
He then received an 11 month, 29 day sentence, which was suspended.
According to the 2001 report which cited the complaint, “beginning in 1998 when the plaintiff was 15 years old, Davis committed various acts of child sexual abuse.’”
After the plaintiff turned 18, she submitted a letter to the Hamilton County General Sessions Court “saying the offense did not take place and she did not want to pursue the case.”
A civil lawsuit had been filed in Bradley County prior to the criminal charge.
Bert Bates was the attorney for the plaintiff in the civil case.
In the 2001 civil lawsuit, Bates said the investigation was continuing into allegations from other members of the congregation and indicated, “this is not an isolated incident.”
On Thursday, Logan said three plaintiffs were listed in the lawsuit after it was consolidated. A settlement of $190,000 was paid to the plaintiffs on behalf of the church by the church’s insurance provider.
Logan also said due to the lack of evidence, the state of Tennessee did not prosecute any criminal complaints.
“Earlier claims were settled. Settlements were paid for the earlier claims,” Logan said.
“As part of the agreement, payment should not be an admission of liability, but to buy the peace of Davis and the church,” Logan said as he quoted the language of the 2001 settlement document Thursday.
Attempts to contact Davis and the church via telephone were unsuccessful.