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Todd A. Foster

The day after a former Baton Rouge coach and teacher was arrested on accusations he had sexual contact with a teenager, leaders in a Mississippi church in which he was a pastor said they asked him to resign last month after hearing about the allegations.

The charge against Todd Foster arose from his time at what was called Christian Life Academy in the 2000s. The school changed its name under new management a few years ago.

Foster, 52, of McComb, Mississippi, surrendered to Ascension Parish sheriff's deputies Monday and was booked on one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile in 2007. He was released Monday night from Parish Prison near Donaldsonville on $25,000 bail, online records show.

A written statement from The Well church said Foster — the former pastor along with his wife, Rochelle — hasn't been affiliated with the McComb church since Oct. 14. The church called the allegations again him "very serious and deeply disturbing."

"Upon this matter being brought to the attention of the Church leadership earlier last month, immediate action was taken, and his resignation was requested," the statement says. "The Well, Inc. Leadership was also informed that the appropriate authorities had been notified of the allegations made against Todd A. Foster."

Church officials added that there "have been no documented reports of misconduct during" Foster's tenure at The Well, which was formed in March 2016, nearly nine years after the alleged May 2007 encounter that led to his arrest, a statement says.

A spokeswoman for the Pike County, Mississippi, Sheriff's Office said Tuesday the chief of investigations told her that the agency has no active investigation into Foster in that county. Officials with McComb police referred any questions on Monday about Foster to the Sheriff's Office.

Since leaving Christian Life in 2009, Foster has been a coach or teacher at Baton Rouge Community College, Parklane Academy in McComb and Jackson Academy in Jackson, Mississippi.

Foster's accuser, a former Christian Life student, told Ascension sheriff's detectives in April 2017 about the alleged sexual encounter at Foster's former Prairieville home, when she was 16 and a student in Foster's Bible class at the Baton Rouge school. 

The accuser, Sara Gray-Foreman, was in her 20s when she filed the report. She told deputies she decided to report the incident because she had learned Foster was leading The Well church in Mississippi and feared what might happen to other children, the report says.

Gray-Foreman, who has agreed to be identified for this story, told deputies Foster invited her to his home and cooked dinner for her and her brother shortly after their father had been killed by an alleged drunk driver. She told deputies that Foster gave her beer and said Monday that Foster convinced her to have sex with him before her brother arrived.

But Gray-Foreman's initial report to sheriff's detectives never led to charges against Foster until new developments in recent weeks. While Foster did say Gray-Foreman had come over to his home at that time, he denied ever having sex with her, the sheriff's report says.

Deputies said in the report they had no physical evidence from the then-nearly 10-year-old incident.

In a statement Monday, however, sheriff's deputies said they learned on Oct. 8 that Foster "had recently reached out to an associate confessing that he had sexual intercourse with a juvenile that occurred at his residence in Ascension Parish in 2007."

During Foster's time at Christian Life, the school was a boys' basketball power, winning three straight Class 1A state titles between 2006 and 2008. In his final year, in 2009, Christian Life made the state semi-finals.

He later left that year to become Baton Rouge Community College's first basketball coach for a two-year stint. 

Since the first complaint, Foster has maintained his innocence and his lawyer, Cliff Ivey, said he is not aware of any confession by Foster.

In the statement Tuesday, The Well church officials offered their "sincere thoughts and prayers" for the alleged victim, her family and Foster and his family. 

"We are not here to be the judge and jury of Todd A. Foster, nor will we comment on his guilt or innocence in that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty under our system of laws," the church elders said. "We will leave this to the judicial system."

They also urged the public to take "reports of abuse very seriously and report them to the appropriate authorities."


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.