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Eastern Shore Preacher Fights To Rebuild Reputation

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Jerry Bartley, preacher

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CHESTERTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — An Eastern Shore man found not guilty of child sex abuse is fighting to rebuild his reputation and his family.

Adam May has the exclusive interview.

Jerry Bartley has been through something most people can’t imagine. The preacher of a small Kent County church was accused of sexually abusing his own children and a foster child.

Almost a year later, he’s been cleared of the charges, and he’s sitting down only with WJZ.

“At no time was I ever sexually attracted to any child, male or female. I don’t look at children that way,” Bartley said. “My name has been plastered everywhere, only because they thought they had a case against me for doing something I did not do.”

Bartley’s teenage foster child first accused him of sending a dirty text message, but later admitted he lied, hoping the story would get him transferred to a new family.

Days later, there were new allegations against Bartley from his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his two children. She questioned how he applied lotion and prescription suppositories.

“When I saw her typed out statements to the Department of Social Services, I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” said Bartley.

Bartley spent eight months in jail after the allegations.

“I had several pictures of my children, I kept praying for them. It hurt me so deeply because I know I hadn’t done the things I was accused of,” Bartley said.

Not only was there a lack of forensic evidence in the case, but there was also serious inconsistency in the testimony the children gave investigators. They inaccurately described their own father’s genitalia, and made outlandish claims about his sexual performance.

“On one of the alleged victims, they took their clothes and did this testing, but none of it indicating anything sexual between my client and the victims,” said Dan Rosendale, Bartley’s attorney.

But Rosendale says despite his client’s now cleared criminal record, some in Kent County still have suspicions.

“There are always going to be folks in the public, regardless of the outcome that are going to believe he is guilty,” said Rosendale. 

Bartley also spoke about the possibility of a relationship with his children in the future.

“All I have to give is love,” Bartley said. “I don’t know what poison has been put in them, but as a father, I’m going to continue to fight for my children. I just want to love them and be daddy like they know.”

Jerry Bartley’s two children are still living with their mother, as he fights for visitation rights in family court.

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