By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
A Mississippi traveling evangelist, who hails from Olive Branch, faces charges he secretly filmed women and girls as young as 17 as they undressed in bathrooms.
The latest charges come from Fort Worth, Texas, but Samuel “Sammy” Nuckolls also faces 13 counts of video voyerism in DeSoto County. Arkansas police say they are pursuing charges, too.
“I think he’s a good man,” one of his attorneys, Ronald Michael of Booneville, said to a Fort Worth news reporter.
Nuckolls, 33, pleaded not guilty to the Mississippi charges and was freed on $10,000 bond.
“Obviously we will defend him as aggressively as we can,” Michael said. He added that Nuckolls seems concerned about his situation “but seems to have a concern about the people, too.”
Most recently, Nuckolls was accused of capturing video of as many as 18 females.
Nuckolls was a pastor for LifeWay Christian Resources, a Nashville, Tenn., organization that runs the popular Centrifuge youth camps affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, according to LifeWay’s website.
LifeWay’s website said Nuckolls is no longer a part of its programs. The statement said investigations have not turned up any evidence that Nuckolls taped people at LifeWay events, where he was a camp pastor from 2003 to 2006 and a contract pastor from 2007 to 2011.
“Because of current legal accusations, LifeWay will not be using Nuckolls, and he has been relieved of all current speaking commitments,” said the website statement.
Nuckolls drew scrutiny in Arkansas in October and the investigation spread to other states.
Gosnell, Ark., Police Chief Bobby Trump said that in October, the wife of a youth minister with whom Nuckolls was staying noticed a pen camera in the family’s bathroom. She later found that it contained a flash drive and looked to see what was on it. “Lo and behold, there’s her on the video getting undressed,” he said.
Trump said Nuckolls admitted making videos of three females, including two in Mississippi, without their consent. However, Trump continued to investigate, eventually turning over evidence to authorities in Mississippi. “I guess he figured he’s from a bigger city, we’re small-town people, we’d just take his word” for it, Trump said. “He just thought we were a bunch of hillbillies here.”
Mississippi authorities identified victims from Texas and eventually alerted police in Seymour. Officials there said they are handing over information concerning accusations of improper photography or visual recording of two females to the district attorney for presentation to the grand jury.
The Associated Press and Fort Worth Star-Telegram contributed to this story.