After discovering his father’s secret, Jimmy Hinton strives to create awareness of sexual predators.
First Place, Feature Writing, Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists
Second Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press
Honorable mention (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
SOMERSET, Pa. — Jimmy Hinton grew up at the feet of the wolf.
For 27 years, his father, John Wayne Hinton, proclaimed the Gospel to the sheep of the Somerset Church of Christ — a century-old congregation in this southwestern Pennsylvania coal-mining community.
“I went into ministry because of him,” said Jimmy Hinton, 35, the middle child of 11 brothers and sisters.
But three years ago, the son — who became Somerset’s preacher in 2009 — learned a horrible secret: John Hinton was a longtime child molester who had sexually abused young girls and escaped discovery for decades.
Jimmy Hinton uncovered the truth after an adult molested as a child confided in him. The Holy Spirit, he believes, drove his response.
“I believe you,” he told the victim.
He reported his father to police and prompted an investigation that resulted in the pedophile preacher, now 65, pleading guilty to sexually assaulting and taking nude photographs of four young girls, ages 4 to 7.
While his father — inmate No. KP7163 — serves a 30- to 60-year sentence in Rockview State Prison, Jimmy Hinton works to help heal his home congregation and create awareness far beyond Somerset, a town of 6,300 about 75 miles east of Pittsburgh.
This story appears in the January 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.