A former pastor for a west suburban church was behind bars Friday morning, accused of sexually abusing a boy for six years.
Police also are investigating whether there might have been a second victim.
Chicago, Illinois police said 57-year-old John Hays was arrested Thursday, charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Hays allegedly fondled the boy repeatedly from February 2003 through February 2009. Prosecutors said, when the abuse started, the victim was only 8 years old.
Officials at First Presbyterian Church of River Forest said Hays was on staff as director of congregational life, but was fired on May 26.
Police began investigating the case in late May, when the victim – now 19 years old – reported the alleged abuse. Church elder Kevin Murphy said Hays confronted church leaders about the investigation in May, and said he would turn himself in.
Murphy said church leaders were not aware of any alleged wrongdoing before that, and did not know the victim or his family, who are not members of the church.
“Mr. Hays reported to our pastor, his boss, in late May that he had reported himself to the Chicago Police, regarding an incident that occurred in his neighborhood, and for a period of years,” Murphy said. “We’re not aware of any incidents of abuse occurring on the property of this church.”
Murphy said he believes the alleged abuse took place before Hays joined the church staff in 2009.
Police said Hays was arrested at his home in the Austin neighborhood, which is where the abuse allegedly took place. According to published reports, Hays and the victims were neighbors and family friends at the time of the abuse.
Hays was due in bond court on Friday.