New details in sexual assault case involving a Chattanooga church

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 7/15/2013 7:28 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - New details surrounding the recent arrest of a camp counselor accused of sexual crimes against minors have emerged.

Zachary Scott Anderle, 21, of Chattanooga has been charged with Child Molestation, Sexual Assault, two counts of 3rd degree cruelty to children and battery.

Carroll County Georgia investigators told WDEF it all happened late last month while Anderle was working as a counselor at a Christian camp being run by Vineyard Chattanooga Community Church.

"As soon as they returned back to the Chattanooga area, one of the students complained to a parent who contacted authorities in Hamilton County and Chattanooga who in turn called our agency,"said Carroll County Sheriff's captain Jeff Richards.

Richards said investigators spoke to Vineyard Chattanooga senior Pastor Jeff Anderle who admitted that his son Zachary was a counselor for the church camp. Arrangements were made to allow Zachary Anderle to turn himself in to Georgia authorities.

According to the complaint affidavit, there were multiple children who witnessed the counselor come into a bunkhouse playing a guitar wile nude and that reportedly upset a number of children.

The complaint also mentions an alleged incident involving Anderle taking his pants off and jumped on top of a child. The minors arms were reportedly pinned to the bed while an alleged physical struggle ensued. The complaint goes on to say Anderle allegedly told the child," It's not molestation unless somebody sticks something in."

Anderle remains in jail without bond because of a Georgia law that specifically targets crimes committed against children by adults with authority over a child.

"It's a no bond when you're dealing with the sexual assault," said Richards.

Anderle's defense attorney, Allen Trapp Jr. told WDEF that he is working on getting a judge to allow Anderle a chance to post bail. He also said his client will fight every allegation that has been levied against him.

Vineyard Chattanooga issued a statement that says:

Vineyard Chattanooga was notified following our week-long summer camp of allegations against one of our volunteer counselors. First and foremost, we are committed to doing the right thing for all involved in this situation. We offer our full cooperation with the investigation by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, and will continue to offer openness, honesty, and transparency to law enforcement as this investigation develops.  All initial reports have indicated that the incident was an inexcusable attempt at unacceptable “locker-room” type humor.  A separate committee has been established to investigate the matter further.  The committee is conducting interviews and is attempting to determine whether initial reports are accurate or inaccurate.  Just as the committee avoids jumping to conclusions, the committee also cautions others against rushing to judgment about exactly what happened.  However, regardless of whether the incident was an ill-conceived attempt at locker room humor or something else, it is clear that the incident was absolutely not consistent with church standards, and we are heartbroken for all those involved.  The church also wishes to offer its assistance to those families involved.  In the event that any parent wishes to obtain counseling for their child as a result of this incident, the church is willing to make arrangements for independent counseling.

If convicted Anderle could spend up to 20 years in a Georgia Prison.

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