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Past victims of man accused of church rape speak out

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A registered sex offender in Winston-Salem was arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted and raped a child at church.

Henry Clifford Byrd Sr., 65, has been charged with one count of first degree rape of a child and one count of indecent liberties with a child.

Winston-Salem police said they were called to New Bethel Baptist Church at 1016 N. Trade St. on March 23. The church pastor, Dr. Kendall Jones, says he called police after a church members informed him a young girl had been raped in the church kitchen just minutes before the church Easter Cantata.

"I'm hurt, angry, disappointed that something we were planning to celebrate, the Holy Week and Passover, that something of this magnitude would happen to a child," says Dr. Jones.

Jones says Byrd was a member at the church, but was not an employee and did not have any official functions, so therefore a background check was never performed. Byrd is a convicted sex offender and has other charges making up a lengthy criminal record that dates back to 1974.

Byrd was convicted of indecent liberties with a minor in Guilford County in May 2000, according to the North Carolina sex offender registry. The mother of the victim in that case, said she feared Byrd may hurt another child if released from jail.

"It's sad that he prays on innocent people," says Wilma Jackson. "He tells the same stories and does the same things over and over again. When does it stop," she asks.

Jackson says Byrd was convicted of indecent liberties with a daughter the couple shared and another daughter of hers. She says she feels for the church and the family involved in the latest allegations.

"My heart goes out to them. I know as a mother looking at your child cry. I had two I had to look at cry saying mama why, why, why, and you don't have no kind of answer," says Jackson.

Police say Byrd was placed in the Forsyth County Detention Center under a $500,000 secured bond and has a court date planned for April 25.