Church worker, assistant teacher indicted on sexual battery charges

Wesley Topp - Courtesy of Forrest County Regional Jail
Wesley Topp - Courtesy of Forrest County Regional Jail
Wesley Topp makes his first court appearance
Wesley Topp makes his first court appearance

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A grand jury has indicted on two charges of molestation a former church nursery worker and former Oak Grove assistant teacher.

The Forrest County Circuit Court announced the indictments on June 12.

Wesley Craig Topp, 26, was charged with touching for lustful purposes a child under the age of 16 while he was over the age of 18. He is also charged with sexual penetration and fellatio of a child under the age of 14 when Topp was 24 months older than the person upon which the sex acts were performed.

In December of 2011 bond for Topp was set at $400,000 and later reduced to $100,000 for one charge, and bond was set at $50,000 for a second charge.

Police at the time said one of the incidents took place somewhere within the 2400 block of Hardy Street in Hattiesburg but would not specify where. The other incident, officials said, took place at a private residence where he was babysitting.

Topp is a former employee at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg which is located at 2420 Hardy Street. Eddie Rester, lead pastor at the church, said in a prepared statement at the time:

"We are saddened by the recent developments involving a former nursery worker employed by Parkway Heights in the church nursery. When we learned of the alleged incident we reported it immediately to the proper authorities and continue to cooperate fully with them in this matter.

"We feel it's important to note that the Early Encounters Day Care Center that is housed in our facility has no involvement in this matter. Early Encounters operates as a separate entity from Parkway Heights and there are no allegations against its staff.

"Until the investigation is fully complete it would be inappropriate for us to comment further. In the meantime, we ask that the community join us in prayer for those at the center of this investigation."

Lamar County Superintendent Ben Burnett said Topp was an assistant teacher with a community-based special needs class at Oak Grove High School and was placed on administrative leave soon after events came to light. Burnett stressed in December that the incident in question did not take place on campus and was not related in any way to Oak Grove High School.

Topp bonded out of jail in December.

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