BLUEFIELD, W.V. — A West Virginia man who identifies as a woman and was welcomed by several Episcopal priests to serve as a youth minister in their assemblies has now been charged with the years-long sexual abuse of a young girl.
James “Jimmy” Lilly, 24, was taken into custody on Tuesday and is facing dozens of sexually-related charges, including one count of incest, one count of second-degree sexual assault and 31 counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
According to reports, Lilly, who was working on obtaining a teaching degree at Bluefield State College, served as a youth leader for an unspecified number of Episcopal congregation in the Bluefield area, including at Christ Episcopal Church.
“He was a youth minister, but also involved with children in other ways,” Detective K.L. Adams told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
“Mr. Lilly, by his own admission, is transgender,” he also stated. “He is in the process of becoming a woman.”
Police began investigating Lilly in December after being alerted that he had been sexually abusing a girl since 2009, when she was nine or ten years old. The abuse is stated to have taken place at a home and not a church building.
He was released this week after someone posted his $125,000 bond, but investigators are now looking into claims that he had abused additional children while working as a youth leader in other cities and states, such as Mechanicsville, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia.
“Of course in this investigation, we put out there in the news for any other victims to come forward and contact the Bluefield Police Department,” Adams told reporters. “There has been some allegations arise out of state at other churches that he has worked—possible victims there that have come forward.”
Local television station WVVA contacted officials with Christ Episcopal Church of Bluefield, but was told that Lilly never raised any red flags by engaging in behavior that they found to be strange or concerning.
“After interviewing the victim in this case, hearing all the stuff that has happened and also everything that has led up to and speaking with individuals that have been involved in Mr. Lilly’s life, we find it pertinent that he is guilty of these charges,” Adams told the outlet.
Lilly faces up to 300 years behind bars if convicted.