A Tennessee pastor and national guardsman is one of 18 men charged in a recent sex sting operation in Spring Hill, according to police.
Matthew Brewer, a youth pastor from Centerville and chaplain in the Tennessee National Guard, was arrested over the weekend, along with 17 others, in connection to a human trafficking operation, WKRN reports. The 47-year-old minister of students, who was previously listed as the youth pastor at Fairfield Baptist Church, was arrested for solicitation of a minor.
Spring Hill Police Lieutenant Justin Whitwell spoke to the news outlet after news of Brewer's arrest, saying he was a "trusted figure."
"It's a big concern," he said. "This guy is dealing with our juveniles every day or every Sunday."
He continued, "It's a blemish on our armed services. He's a trusted person within the community and he goes and betrays the trust of his community and here locally in Middle Tennessee."
The sting operation led to the arrest of 18 men from around the southeast who police said responded to specific online ads and were intentionally seeking out sexual activity from a 16-year-old girl. When the suspects arrived at a hotel to meet the minor, they found an undercover officer instead. Thirteen men were arrested for patronizing prostitution from a minor and fiver were arrested for soliciting.
"It's an ongoing problem that we are trying to eradicate here locally and other jurisdictions," said Lt. Whitwell. "They do these types of operations all the time, so we know we are going to eventually catch you. If you keep doing this, we are going to catch you."
Leaders at Fairfield Baptist Church issued a statement on Monday (July 12) saying they were "shocked and saddened" by the situation and prepared to work with law enforcement.
"We met with our church family Sunday to share what little we knew, and our youth minister has been suspended indefinitely from his duty and the church campus pending court proceedings," the statement read, in part. "We ask that people would pray for the Brewer family and the church family and anyone else involved as we work through what's happened."