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Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Georgia, repeatedly obstructed a 2002 police investigation into child abuse at a church-affiliated summer camp, according to a new report.
Maryland State Police reports obtained by the Washington Free Beacon detailed Warnock’s attempts to interfere with interviews and to discourage counselors from speaking with police during an investigation of physical abuse at Camp Farthest Out. At the time, Warnock served as senior pastor at Douglas Memorial Community Church, which ran the summer camp.
Warnock, who now faces a tight runoff race against Republican Kelly Loeffler on January 5, interrupted police interviews of counselors on July 31, 2002, according to the report.
“This investigator informed [camp administrators] that if the counselors requested that an attorney be present that was their right, however, no one else could [invoke] their rights to an attorney on their behalf,” the report reads.
The Free Beacon reports that the names in the documents are redacted, but match closely with newspaper articles about the incident, which ultimately led to Warnock’s arrest. The state attorney later dropped the charges.
At the time The Baltimore Sun reported that Warnock and a colleague were “accused in court documents of trying to prevent a state trooper of interviewing counselors at Camp Farthest Out” and that the ministers “interrupted a police interview of a counselor.”
Warnock said then that he was “only asserting that lawyers should be present when the camp counselors were interviewed.”
During a debate on Sunday, Warnock said that law enforcement officers “actually later thanked me for my cooperation and for helping them,” and the deputy state attorney told the Baltimore Sun the same in November 2002.
Police reports filed by state troopers after Warnock and Reverend Mark Andre Wainwright were arrested for “hindering and obstructing” police show that investigators warned Warnock a number of times to stop disrupting the investigation ahead of his arrest.
Tfc. Danielle Barry, an investigator with the Maryland State Police’s child abuse division, wrote in her report that the pair “interfered with a criminal investigation by interrupting interviews and directing people not to talk to investigators.”
Though Warnock and camp administrators agreed to cooperate when investigators arrived to conduct interviews with counselors, they later voiced concerns about “legal ramifications from the alleged abuse case” and insisted that the camp’s attorney be present for any interviews with counselors or campers.
Warnock and Wainright entered the room where investigators were conducting their first interview of the day with a 17-year-old counselor in a private camp office and “demanded that [they] be present for the interview,” according to the report.
Barry told them they were “not permitted to join the interview and warned that they were “hindering and obstructing the investigation.”
Warnock then announced he would no longer allow investigators to use the camp office for interviews, and he and Wainright told Barry that they “did not like how things were progressing and therefore ‘they’ would not be cooperating in the case further.”
“This investigator explained to the reverends that what they were doing was committing a crime for which they could be arrested,” the report says.
After investigators relocated to an outside picnic area to continue their interviews, the reverends once again demanded to sit in on an interview being conducted, forcing Barry to cut her interview short.
A camper later tried to give investigators the location of another potential subject to interview when one of the reverends “grabbed the camper by the arm and directed him away from these investigators” and “told the camper that he was not to talk to these people,” according to the report.
Barry then reached out to the deputy state attorney about the interference, she wrote, and a decision was made to arrest Warnock and Wainwright.