A former Decatur pastor, indicted on two sodomy charges last week, remains in Morgan County Jail with bail set at $500,000 as authorities continue their search for more possible victims in the case.
Hartselle police arrested Danny Duane Pitts, 58, of Hartselle, on Friday morning on first- and second-degree sodomy charges. Authorities said Pitts is the former pastor of GracePoint Church, an interdenominational church in Southeast Decatur that closed a few months ago.
Hartselle police Lt. Alan McDearmond said the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office and FBI were involved in the investigation leading to Pitts’ arrest.
“It was actually an old case he was indicted on,” McDearmond said. “The case he was indicted on involved a juvenile. Regardless of what is out there on social media, only one victim has come forward. Public perception is that there are a lot more victims, but so far no other victims have come forward.”
He said his department had received several tips from the public, and the FBI was able to develop other witnesses.
Scott Anderson, Morgan County district attorney, said his office will be seeking a conviction.
He said first-degree sodomy involves an element of force. Second-degree sodomy is based upon the defendant being over the age of 16, the victim being over 12 and under 16, and there being more than two years' difference in their ages.
First-degree sodomy, a Class A felony, is punishable by up to life in prison. Second-degree sodomy, a Class B felony, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
“All evidence was presented to a grand jury, and this is the indictment that was returned,” Anderson said. “Our plan is to move the case forward to prosecution as expeditiously as possible.”
McDearmond said officers went to Pitts’ residence on Springdale Road Southwest on Friday morning and arrested Pitts without incident.
“He came along with no problems,” McDearmond said. “The investigation is continuing, and we can’t say much more.”
Morgan County sheriff’s spokesman Mike Swafford said Monday that Pitts was booked into the jail at 11 a.m. Friday and remained there.
Morgan County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Howell added conditions to Pitts’ bond, if he posts one. He must enroll in community corrections before a pretrial release; be fitted for and wear an ankle monitor; have no direct or indirect contact with any alleged victim; surrender his passport and not leave Alabama without court approval.
McDearmond said Pitts is a registered nurse.
In an interview with The Decatur Daily in 2010, Pitts said he was the oldest boy in a poor family of 12 children and was abused as a child. He said he was later raised in foster homes and a woman in Eva became a foster mother to him and five siblings. He was later adopted by a Hartselle preacher and his wife.
He in 2010 said he dealt with thoughts of suicide and low self-esteem as a child.
“I spent my young life hiding butcher knives and taking the brunt of the abuse,” he said then.
He began speaking in churches in his teens, he said.
He graduated from Hartselle High in 1981 and studied nursing at Calhoun Community College, he said.
He was a pastor in the United Pentecostal Church for seven years before forming the interdenominational GracePoint Church.
Former church members said GracePoint had about 250 members at its peak. They said about 20 people attended when it closed and the building sold.