Plea Deal: Exposure charges dropped against preacher

Preacher will receive counseling, but no jail time

By News Sentinel staff
May 15, 2007

An East Knoxville preacher will receive counseling, but no jail time, after being charged with exposing himself to an undercover police officer last year.
The Reverend Willie L. Jefferson, 55, appeared in court last week on a charge of indecent exposure. Knoxville police had arrested him Dec. 22 during an undercover sting at Tyson Park near the University of Tennessee.

Jefferson has served as pastor at Trinity Tabernacle Church of God in Christ on Washington Avenue for the past four years.
Police said Reverend Jefferson flashed his privates at an officer and masturbated. The arrest, one of 15, came as part of a crackdown on lewd behavior at the park, authorities said.

Reverend Jefferson agreed last Wednesday to pay court costs and receive counseling in exchange for the dismissal of the indecent exposure charge, court records show.

His status at the church remains uncertain. Some of Jefferson’s flock want him out of the pulpit.

"Right now, the church is still in disarray," said Joe Downs, a deacon at the church. "We want him out of here."

More details as they develop online and in Wednesday’s News Sentinel.