An ordained minister lost his job at a River Forest church last month amid charges he sexually abused a young boy, a church spokesman confirmed to NBC Chicago.
John Hays, 57, of the First Presbyterian Church of River Forest, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. His bail was set Friday at $250,000.
"This is a terrible situation, first of all, for this young man and for the family, and its a really difficult time for us," said Kevin Murphy, a church spokesman. "[Hays] has been on our staff for the past five years. This came as a great shock to us."
Murphy said Hays was terminated from his staff position as the Director of Congregational Life on May 26.
Despite a published report, Murphy said the alleged victim is not a member of the church. Murphy said he believes the alleged abuse happened before Hays was hired to work at First Presbyterian Church.
Prosecutors say the abuse started when the victim was 13 years old. Hays was the victim's neighbor and the father a friend. Hays would allegedly "play games" with the victim as he drove him to school, allegedly holding and fondling him in the car, prosecutors said.
The alleged victim is now 19. The abuse is alleged to have occurred in Hays' home in Chicago's Austin neighborhood.