A convicted sex offender who spent 20 years on the lam was busted in Alabama — where he’d been working at a church for a decade, authorities said.
Larry Albert Flake, 75, was nabbed Friday in Birmingham, where FBI officials said he was living under an assumed name of Larry White and was known to locals as Rev. White, FBI spokesman Paul Daymond told AL.com.
Officials at the Evergreen True House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church told the outlet Flake was a minister of music and not a pastor.
Flake, who was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor in Indiana in 2001, had served at the church for the last 10 years, leaving others clueless about his past, WBRC reported.
Pastor Willie Perry told the station he learned Flake’s real identity over the weekend following his arrest at a home near the church. Perry said wasn’t close to Flake, as he kept to himself.
“It was heart-wrenching,” Perry said. “I mean, you couldn’t imagine the horror of waking up and finding out that someone had this kind of checkered past. When you are on the run, you limit as to what people know about you.”
Court records obtained by AL.com show Flake was convicted of attacking a 15-year-old girl in Richmond, Indiana, in 1999 as she left her apartment to visit some friends.
Flake grabbed the girl and forced her into his car, where cops said he raped the girl, who later picked him out of a photo lineup, AL.com reported.
Flake later failed to appear at trial and had been a fugitive since August 2001. A jury convicted him of sexual misconduct, a felony, but a mistrial was declared on the rape count. He was ultimately sentenced to 25 years in prison, the website reported.
Police in Indiana announced Flake’s arrest Saturday, saying Birmingham police and FBI agents took him into custody after receiving a tip in January.
“Without the new lead and the collaboration with the FBI Indianapolis and Birmingham field offices as well as the Birmingham Police Department, Larry Flake would not have been captured, which gives closure to this 20-year-old case,” Capt. Curt Leverton said.
Flake will be extradited back to Indiana, Richmond police said.
Perry, meanwhile, said he hired Flake after getting references from at least two churches, but will ramp up background checks after the startling arrest.
“Trust but verify,” Perry said. “I apologize to this body of Christ and this congregation. It should not have happened. No minister should have to deal with that. You had somebody in the midst of your congregation that had no character at all.”