Elder at anti-LGBTQ church arrested after soliciting prostitutes on gay hook-up app

A university professor who’s also an elder with the Kirksville Church of Christ in Missouri is facing a misdemeanor prostitution charge after allegedly approaching male students.

Barry Cole Poyner, 57, is charged with a Class B misdemeanor count of patronizing prostitution. But the most disturbing part of this story is that he’s an elder of a church that is prominently anti-LGBTQ. On it’s Facebook page, the Kirksville Church of Christ posts messages that are quite specific about this:

Court documents reveal that Poyner faces up to six months in prison and a potential $1000 fine. The documents also say the Truman State University Police Department was notified that Poyner was “harassing male Truman students for sexual contact” and also “offering to pay for items for sexual favors by using the app Grindr.”

University police set up an undercover profile and it wasn’t long before they were contacted by a user who used the name “DILF,” who apparently told the undercover officer that “he would love to have a sugar daddy relationship.” “DILF” also said he had provided gift cards, clothing, and money in previous relationships. When he contacted the undercover officer on Dec. 3 and asked for sexual favors, he promised to pay for gas and said he “might throw in an Arby’s card.”

Not long after that “DILF” agreed to meet the undercover officer at the gas station to purchase the gas prior to the planned encounter. He told the officer his home address, which matched Poyner’s. When Poyner arrived at the gas station he tried to flee the scene after officers approached his car. He was subsequently pulled over several blocks later.

The University acted swiftly, issuing a statement Friday that Poyner had been suspended, notes Hemant Mehta, writing for Friendly Atheist.

According to the statement, Poyner has been informed “he is not allowed on campus” and is not allowed to contact any student organizations. He’s also not allowed to take part in any campus activities or events.

His church, on the other hand, hasn’t commented. It has, however, removed his name from its list of elders and removed his sermons from their website.

Poyner is expected to appear in the Adair County Associate Circuit Court on January 8.

Megan Hamilton

Megan Hamilton has traveled extensively throughout the Southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. A lifelong atheist, these travels have informed her political views. She currently lives in a remote location with a large herd of cats and four dogs.