The parents knew him as a dedicated churchgoer who often gave them gifts and helped out with odd jobs.
Their children knew him as "Brother Edgar," or "Tex," a towering, balding man who took them on overnight car trips to Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina.
Police say he is Josiah Edgar Haynsworth, 57, a self-employed Fruitland man who has been indicted on six counts of child sex charges involving four boys between 10 and 16 -- youths who police said he took on his business outings.
Mr. Haynsworth, who stands 6 feet 9 inches tall, pleaded not guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to six counts of transportation of minors for sexual exploitation purposes. He is being held without bail until his trial, scheduled for Dec. 12.
The FBI, which took over the case from state police because the alleged crimes were committed in various states, is asking any potential victims to come forward.
So far, a young boy and girl have made statements, which could bring the number of victims to six, authorities said.
The indictment and a nine-page search warrant application, unsealed by a federal judge yesterday, alleges that Mr. Haynsworth befriended members of the New Life Apostolic Church in Salisbury and persuaded parents to allow their children to accompany him on trips.
"The parents never suspected," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert R. Harding. "They assumed he was a loyal member of their congregation who wanted to take their children on a trip.
"Mr. Haynsworth would conduct business on the trips, but it also is our belief that he took the opportunity to fondle the children," Mr. Harding said.
Authorities said there was no evidence of sexual intercourse.
The investigation began in September when one of the alleged victims told his parents, who in turn told leaders of the church, said Mike McKelvin, a state police spokesman. Another meeting was held in which the church's pastor and the parents confronted the suspect. They then called police, the spokesman said.
Police said they arrested Mr. Haynsworth at his two-story duplex the 200 block of E. Main St. on Sept. 29. He had been indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore the day before.
The indictment alleges Mr. Haynsworth "established social relationships" with adult members of the church. "It was part of his pattern of conduct that [he] gave gifts and loans and performed services for selected adult members of the . . . congregation."
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the FBI at (410) 749-5249 or the Maryland State Police at (410) 749-3101.