Thursday, April 08, 2010

N.J. minister held in underage sexual assault By Jason Nark


February 3 2010

Philadelphia Daily News

It was a little bit of a surprise when Gregor "George" Woodruff became a Methodist pastor, his ex-wife said yesterday. It was a big shock, though, when she found out that Woodruff, the father of her two adult children, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an underage girl in South Jersey.

"I really find it hard to believe," said Jean Haberl, of Schuylkill County, Pa. "I know nothing happened with our daughter when we lived together."

Woodruff, 61, a pastor at Ewan United Methodist Church in rural Harrison Township, Gloucester County, is accused of assaulting his victim on several occasions over the past two years, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said yesterday. The Gloucester City resident was arrested Friday at the Kennedy Health System Crisis Center, in Cherry Hill, and remained as of yesterday in the Camden County Jail on charges of sexual assault and child endangerment.

Haberl said that Woodruff, whom she divorced more than 10 years ago, had been involved with churches in Pennsylvania but moved to New Jersey to live with his new wife and her young daughter. She said that Woodruff worked in telemarketing and only recently completed his studies to become a pastor.

"I never thought he was minister material," she said.

The prosecutor's office did not release the age, hometown or relationship between Woodruff and the victim. A woman interviewed at a yellow, two-story bungalow on Powell Street in Gloucester City and who claimed to be Woodruff's mother-in-law said that he lived there with her daughter and granddaughter. She said that the victim was a family member.

"She's happy now -- she's free," said the woman, who asked not to be identified.

Neighbors on Powell Street declined to comment on Woodruff's arrest.

The Ewan United Methodist Church was empty yesterday afternoon as was the preschool in the rear of the building.

Jack Shaw, a spokesman for the United Methodist Church in New Jersey, said that Woodruff had been assigned as a part-time pastor at the church since last July but has been "relieved of his duties at this time."

Shaw declined to comment on the charges against Woodruff.

"We have heard rumors regarding this arrest but we have been unable to confirm what the facts are," he wrote in a statement.

The Camden County Prosecutor's Office would not say why Woodruff had been arrested at a crisis center.

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