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Charlotte youth church leader and coach charged in sex crimes against children

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police announced the arrest of a local volunteer church youth leader and soccer coach today. Benjamin Damron, 36, has been charged with nine counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of sexual battery.

There are three known victims, police said during a news conference. All are teenage boys. Two of the victims are under the age of 15.

Damron has been a youth leader or coach for at least four local organizations including Elevation Church, Mercy Church, Southbrook Church and Soccer Shots. CMPD Lieutenant Jim Ivie says the incidents occurred at parks or at Damron’s residence, and that all of the victims knew Damron.

"We know that this happened over a period of time and that until this week, they [the victims] didn't among themselves know that this was all occurring to other people," Ivie said. "That leads us to believe that based on the pattern unfortunately, that this means there are probably more victims out there."

Ivie said all of the listed organizations where Damron was involved have been notified and are cooperating with the investigation. Ivie also credited the young victims who came forward.

"I don’t know what led individual kids to come forward. They are extremely brave to do so," he said. "I applaud their bravery and their families' bravery to come forward and report these incidents. I would hope that any parent out there would have tough conversations, thorough conversations with their kids just to understand how important it is to report something like this that happened."

CMPD is encouraging anyone with information to contact police directly or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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Sarah Delia covers criminal justice and the arts for WFAE. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.