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Local Church Camp Leader Arrested For Sexual Assault Against a Child

A local church camp operator has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing a girl for seven years.

The charges come after the victim found out the man was running a kid's ministry camp in Bell County.

Back in October 2013, after years of trying to get charges filed against the suspect, the woman went to the Bexar County Sheriff's Department where authorities then issued an arrest warrant. Bell County police were then able to locate and arrest the man who actually lives on the property where he runs that children's camp.

Jon Phillip Tidball is the executive director at the Patriot Kids Ministries Camp in Salado where he's been running the camp since January 2012. Police say that although he has been involved in numerous kid's organizations and camps throughout Bell County, so far, no other victims have come forward with sexual abuse claims.

"We know of no immediate wrongdoings from this individual in our county," Bell County sheriff Eddy Lange said.

Tidball had previously worked as a lieutenant colonel chaplain in the United States Army for 31 years until he retired in 2008, but just this past January, the Army charged him with sodomy. That's when Bexar County partnered with Fort Hood and brought Tidball up on the charges of sexual assault against a child.

"When I explained to him that we were with the sheriff's department, and we were executing an arrest warrant for sexual assault of he a child, he did not seem too surprised because he had known pending charges," Bell County Special Crimes Unit Lt. Michele Cianci said.

Once he retired from the military, Tidball moved to Temple for two years until he began living at his home near the ministry campgrounds. The Bell County Sheriff's Department says that during his time in Bell County, Tidball had worked with numerous children's organizations and youth camps as a sponsor and volunteer.

"Anytime that there is an individual that has a warrant out for his or her arrest, that has any involvement with sexual assault, especially of a child, we are concerned," Cianci said.  "The mere fact that he is running a ministry for children in Bell County even concerns us more so."

Tidball is being held in the Bell County jail until he can be extradited to Bexar County, and the sheriff's department is urging anyone who has information about Tidball or his organization to call the Bell County Special Crimes Unit at 254-933-6770.

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