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Nashua youth pastor facing ‘credible allegations’ of sexually abusing children dies by suicide after firing, church says

A man recently fired from his job as a youth pastor at a church in Nashua, N.H., amid a police investigation of his alleged sexual abuse of children died by suicide last week rather than “face the consequences of his actions,” the church said.

In a statement posted Nov. 29 to the website of Nashua Baptist Church, elders and deacons named the former youth pastor as Jarrett Booker, 37.

According to the statement, church officials on Nov. 22 learned of a criminal investigation concerning “credible allegations” that Booker had sexually abused minors.

“Jarrett had been an integral part of our church, serving as Pastor of Worship and Youth Ministry for nearly a decade,” the church said. “These allegations prompted an internal review which revealed further evidence of misconduct.”

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Booker was fired on Nov. 25, the church said.

A spokesperson for the Nashua Police Department confirmed Monday that the agency was investigating Booker “for allegations of sexual assault on a minor” at the time of his death. He declined to comment further “due to the investigation and the sensitivity” of the allegations.

“We are committed to being transparent and forthright throughout this process while still maintaining the privacy of the victims,” the church’s lead pastor, Stephen Woodard, said in a statement.

“Our goal is to empower those who have been harmed to tell their own stories when they are ready to do so. Every incident we are currently aware of has been passed along to the proper authorities including those investigating the original allegation,” Woodard said. “The work in front of us right now is to bring healing to those who need our help and restore the trust of our community.”

The congregation was told Nov. 26 that Booker was under investigation and had been fired, church officials said.

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Booker took his own life the next day, they said.

“This event has added immeasurably to the complexity and pain of the situation,” the church said in the statement on its website.

The church said it unequivocally condemns all forms of abuse.

“It is evil and our God hates it,” the statement on the website said. “We are committed to transparency and to supporting the healing process for victims. We have been, and will continue to, fully cooperate with law enforcement in this investigation and had encouraged Jarrett to do the same.”

The church urged anyone with information about the case to contact police in Nashua or in Hollis, a neighboring town.

“We also request that you inform our church leadership if you feel comfortable doing so,” the church’s statement said. “This way we can leverage whatever resources are available to us for those who need help.”

The church didn’t say how many people had come forward with allegations of abuse.

Church officials said their “hearts are heavy” for the victims, the congregation, and Booker’s family.

“We are dedicated to supporting everyone affected by Jarrett’s inexcusable actions, both within our church and beyond,” the church’s statement said. “We ask for your prayers as we navigate this devastating situation.”

An obituary for Booker, posted to the Davis Funeral Home’s website, said he is survived by relatives, including a wife and son. The notice identified Booker as a Nashua resident.

“Countless family and friends mourn in New Hampshire and Virginia,” the obituary said.

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.