Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Raphael Warnock’s church-run summer camp was nearly shut down after Maryland health officials found unreported child abuse allegations and repeated safety code violations, records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.
Records from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene revealed that staff failed to properly supervise children and were not given a criminal background check before being hired, which is required by law. The camp’s director was forced to resign after at least five child abuse or neglect allegations were brought against him, the Free Beacon reported Thursday.
Warnock served as the senior pastor of the Douglas Memorial Community Church at the time, which operated the Maryland camp known as Camp Farthest Out. (RELATED: Raphael Warnock Refused To Say If He Supports Court Packing During Georgia Senate Debate)
In 2002, Warnock was arrested for allegedly interfering in a police investigation into child abuse allegations, according to the outlet. A police report obtained by the Free Beacon showed Warnock was arrested after he and another reverend were repeatedly warned not to interfere with police interviews. Despite the warnings, Warnock was allegedly “extremely uncooperative and disruptive” and instructed campers not to talk to investigators, including pulling one camper away by the arm while he was speaking to an investigator.
Warnock still hasn’t answered questions about why he was arrested for obstructing a child abuse investigation.
-What was the nature of the investigation?
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) December 11, 2020
However, Warnock told the Baltimore Sun in 2002 that he was “only asserting that lawyers should be present when camp counselors were interviewed.” During a debate Sunday, Warnock claimed that officers “actually thanked me for my cooperation and for helping them,” which is the same thing that the deputy state attorney told the Baltimore Sun in 2002, according to the Free Beacon.
The state attorney’s office later dropped the charges against Warnock.
Douglas Memorial Community Church hired Warnock as a pastor in 2001, where Warnock said he served for “about five years.” Expanding the church’s summer camp program was a part of his responsibilities, the Free Beacon reported.
A 2002 report obtained by the Free Beacon from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene listed 11 violations at the camp, including incomplete camper medical records, not having approval for plumbing and electrical systems, improper child abuse reporting systems, not having approval from the state fire marshal and failure to properly supervise the children.
Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene revoked Camp Farthest Out’s certification to operate in 2003. According to records from the Department of Health, Camp Farthest Out failed to comply with fire and safety code requirements, and staff was not properly supervising campers while they were swimming – both of which were repeat violations from 2001. The camp’s operator also reportedly failed to properly report child abuse allegations or incidents.
A July 10, 2003 letter from Camp Farthest Out’s lawyer Paul D. Shelton to the county prosecutor’s office obtained by the outlet lists several findings of child abuse filed against Brian Carter, the camp’s director. The Department of Social Services found five incidents of child abuse between January and March of 2003, according to the letter which was obtained by the Free Beacon. Shelton argued that they failed to report the allegations because the camp was not notified that they existed. (RELATED: Raphael Warnock Decried The ‘Moral Bankruptcy Of The American Church’ Because Of Lopsided Support For Trump)
Camp Farthest Out appealed the decision to revoke their certification, according to the Free Beacon. They reached a settlement with the Department of Health where they agreed to remove Brian Carter from his position as camp director and remove two additional staffers, Drenard Tucker and Corey Ferguson. Camp Farthest Out also agreed to run proper criminal background checks and comply with proper child abuse reporting procedures, the Free Beacon reported.
A Maryland couple filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in 2003 against Warnock, Camp Farthest Out, the Douglas Memorial Community Church, Tucker, and Ferguson. The Free Beacon was unable to obtain the court records, and an attorney for the couple declined to speak to the Free Beacon on the record.
Two months after the case was settled in 2005, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, hired Warnock as a pastor.