Deacon charged in child abuse case

An ordained deacon from a northwest Houston church has been charged with super aggravated sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse of a child related to at least two sexual assault incidents since May 2016.  

Barry Todd Durrell, 55, served as a deacon at West Houston Seventh-Day Adventist Church on West Sam Houston Parkway North near Emnora Lane.

"His main point of emphasis was gaining trust. They weren't just random children. They weren't just people on the street that he didn't know. He spent time grooming them. Not just the children but the families," said HPD officer Lee Donovan.

Durrell moved to Houston in 1990 and start volunteering at the West Houston Seventh Day Adventist Church.  Later, he became an ordained deacon. 

The first incident occurred inside the church in May 2016. Police say Durrell took a two-year-old boy into the building and sexually assaulted the boy in a closet before the boy's mother found the child and Burrell in that room. 

A seven-year-old boy told family members in February 2017 about ongoing assaults. As the boy was attending a class at the church, police say Burrell would take him multiple times to the restroom and sexual assault him. That boy also said he was sexually assaulted in two other locations.

The ages of the victims has made the investigation slow going.  The first outcry was last May. He was arrested in March. Police say he was below  everyone's radar and above suspicion despite his conviction for child molestation in California.

"Depending what was going on in California with their law, and how everything went, he was not registered. We were able to find an arrest on a similar charge," Said Donovan.

He has apparently confessed to assaulting these two victims as well as more in Oregon. Police are pretty sure there are more victims. That send a chill down investigators spines.

"It scares me as a dad and as a member of this community. But that's why we do this. That's why the have these detectives who work diligently on these types of cases because these are the most vile people in our society," said Donovan.

The church is cooperating with the investigation.

Investigators say there may be other victims and are encouraging anyone with information or who may have had contact with Barry Durrell to contact the Houston Police Department Special Victims Division by phone at 713-830-3254 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS.