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Sheriff: Man confronted about ‘inappropriate physical contact’ with teens commits suicide

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

A man who lived at a Christian school associated with a Baptist church in Rowan County committed suicide after church officials confronted him about having inappropriate physical contact with children, according to the Rowan Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators identified the dead man as Danny Ray Kesler, 59, who lived at the City of Refuge Christian School, which is associated with Bible Missionary Baptist Church in Rockwell.

It wasn’t clear what Kesler did at the school or how much access he had to children. Buddy Hofner, the church’s pastor, didn’t return a message seeking comment Thursday evening.

On Feb. 3, church members confronted Kesler about the suspected physical contact, which sheriff’s investigators said involved teenagers.

“Kesler told the officials that he was sorry for what he had done, and that he was not going back to prison,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

“Danny Kesler put his coat on and said that he was going outside for some fresh air, and shortly thereafter he was found outside, on the church property, with a gunshot wound to his head.”

Investigators say the gunshot was self-inflicted. The investigation into the allegations of inappropriate touching of children is continuing.

Kesler is survived by a wife, five daughters and 12 grandchildren.

The Sheriff’s Office described Kesler as a felon with previous convictions for marijuana possession, selling cocaine, driving while impaired, injury to personal property, disorderly conduct and forgery.

Bible Missionary Baptist Church has a ministry geared toward men who have been released from prison. It runs the Refuge Transitional House, which is aimed at the same population, according to its website.

“The first 3 months following their release poses a high risk for these men returning to a lifestyle of crime,” the church website says. “Many of the men getting out of prison get stuck in the cycle of going from prison, to being homeless, to soon being back in prison. This cycle can be broken if stable accommodations and help to re enter society is provided for them.”

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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