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Update: Suspect in sex crimes against children worked at Tri-State Baptist Children's Home

October 9th, 2013 9:16 am by Rain Smith

Update: Suspect in sex crimes against children worked at Tri-State Baptist Children's Home

Sonya Pickel, 26

Update: 4:05 p.m.

Sullivan County District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus has confirmed that Sonya Pickel was employed by Tri-State Baptist Children's Home at the time of the alleged offenses.

The facility is located at 1792 Vance Tank Road, Bristol, Tenn. Its website says it's operated by Charity Baptist Mission, Inc., a subsidiary of Brookside Baptist Church, and receives no state or federal funding.

The Times-News attempted to obtain comment from operators of the facility, but an individual who answered their phone abruptly disconnected multiple calls.

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Multiple rape charges against a Sullivan County woman stem from her employment at a local children's center, according to police, though a continuing investigation prevents the release of specifics in the case.

Sonya Pickel, 26, of Oakland Drive, Bristol, Tenn., is held in the Sullivan County jail  on $100,000 bond. She's been charged with one count of facilitation of rape of a child, two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, two counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of failure to report child sex abuse.

Pickel also faces six counts of contributing to the delinquency or unruly behavior of a minor and five counts of furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors.

Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart says the investigation began in May, after one of Pickel's family members approached police with allegations.  In July A Sullivan County grand jury returned indictments against Pickel. She was arrested July 24.

At that time, Earhart said an investigation was ongoing, preventing the release of additional details.

Earhart now confirms Pickel was employed by a local children's center at the time of the alleged incidents, but declined to identify the facility.

Returned indictments state that in April of this year Pickel facilitated the sexual penetration of an 11-year-old girl by a 15-year-old boy. She allegedly provided alcohol to the teenage male, along with three additional juveniles.

Court records say Pickel also engaged in sexual relations with a juvenile she had, "supervisory or disciplinary power over."
 
An investigation is continuing.

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