SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. (AP) A longtime pastor with metro Atlanta and North Georgia churches was sentenced to five years in prison and another 15 years of probation on child molestation charges.
Benjamin August Harter, 81, pleaded guilty to three counts of child molestation last month, the Forsyth County District Attorney's Office told news outlets Thursday.
Harter was arrested Aug. 30, 2019, five days after the Forsyth sheriff's office learned of the molestation accusations. Forsyth County Sheriff's Office spokesman Cpl. Doug Rainwater released no details at the time of Harter's arrest, but he said detectives found "ample probable cause'' after their investigation began.
Harter must register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.
Harter served as pastor at Ebenezer Primitive Baptist Church in Sandy Springs beginning in 2014. The church's website said Harter has led congregations in Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Atlanta and the Philippines. An associate pastor previously said Harter wasn't a pastor or a member of the church.
Harter was also the pastor at Bethany Primitive Baptist Church, now located in Suwanee, for nearly three decades beginning in November 1971.