Pastor Faces Sex Crime Charges

COLUMBIA – A former pastor of a Winnsboro Methodist church was arrested in Columbia last week and charged with sexually abusing children.

The Columbia Police Department said Walter C. Ballenger III, 59, of Haven Ridge Court in Columbia, was arrested July 13 and initially charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct. The Police Department said their investigation led to additional charges of two counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct in which Ballenger is accused of touching two children in a sexual manner.

At the time of his arrest, Ballenger was the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, at 410 Harbison Boulevard, Columbia. Until approximately one year ago, Ballenger was pastor of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church at 502 Fifth St. in Winnsboro, where he had served for approximately seven years.

Ballenger was released from the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia late last week on a pair of $100,000 surety bonds.

The Columbia Police Department launched their investigation after receiving a complaint about the alleged abuse on June 27. The case is still under investigation by the Department’s Special Victims Unit. Anyone with information about the investigation or other possible victims is encouraged to call the Department at 803-545-3500.