A well-known moral activist and former Baptist leader pleaded guilty on Wednesday to six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution in Salisbury, N.C.
Coy Privette, 74, could have his criminal record expunged if he completes 48 hours of community service and serves a year of probation. According to the Charlotte Observer, the Cabarrus County district attorney offered a plea bargain as part of a program for first-time offenders.
Media reported that Privette didn’t answer questions from reporters but handed out a statement apologizing to friends and family and thanking them for their support.
“I know that I have hurt and disappointed a lot of people, and I am truly sorry,” he said, according to the Biblical Recorder. “It is my hope that people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Privette said he was seeking “professional attention” to undergo “much-needed personal and spiritual reflection.”
Privette, long associated with the North CarolinaChristian Action League and a past president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, was arrested July 19, the same day police nabbed suspected prostitute Tiffany Denise Summers, 32, who prompted an investigation when she tried to cash suspicious checks from Privette’s checkbook. Summers pleaded not guilty to six counts of prostitution.
Privette’s arrest warrant alleged that he rented a hotel room and paid for sex six times between May 4 and June 25.
News 14 Carolina said RowanCounty district attorney Bill Kenerly revealed Wednesday that Summers took pictures of him with her camera phone and gave the pictures to investigators. Kenerly said Privette used his own name to check into two local motels and security cameras at those motels showed Privette and the woman at the motel on several different dates.
Questioned by police, Privette reportedly admitted writing a check to pay for sex.
Saying he was more concerned with stopping the behavior than with whether Privette will have a criminal record, Kenerly agreed to defer prosecution. That means if Privette meets the conditions of the court, his record will be wiped clean.
Privette resigned from the board of directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and its executive committee following his arrest. He also stepped down as president of the Christian Action League, a moral-concerns agency he led as executive director for 15 years, beginning in 1980.
He is a former trustee of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and was a member of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission–today the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission–during transition between the agency’s former moderate leadership and selection of the current president and CEO, Richard Land.
Also a former state legislator, Privette currently is a Cabarrus County commissioner. He hasn’t announced whether he intends to resign from that post.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.