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SHEFFIELD, AL (WAFF) -
Investigators confirmed a Sheffield music minister has been accused of sexual misconduct involving young boys.
Officials said Oliver Brazelle was accused of sexually assaulting young boys within Sheffield First United Methodist Church, which officials said could have happened for more than four decades.
Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray said these allegations were brought to his attention less than 48 hours ago.
"It's a tragic situation. No one is going to win from this. Probably nothing good is going to come from this. It's probably going to bring some old wounds and it's going to open some new wounds," he said.
Ray said church leaders brought the allegations to the police department Monday morning after conducting an internal investigation within the church.
Ray said investigators were given access to Brazelle's office. They seized a computer and documents.
"We have a mound of evidence to go through. We have enough probable cause to launch an investigation with what we've been provided so far," he said. "Want to make sure we do it right we do it professionally and we do it with the victims in mind."
The allegations include claims of sexual abuse and misconduct to young boys by a man who is not just a member of the church, but who has held leadership roles within the church for the last 50 years.
Some members of the church said they couldn't believe the accusations.
"He's meant so much to so many in this community and to so many of my close friends," said Evan Lemay. "I mean we've all grown up in this church, even people who didn't go to this church who just went through the youth group. It's just hard to believe"
Police said they are aware of three possible victims, but said those numbers could rise.
"Unfortunately, you could have hundreds or you could have the three. I hope to God we only have the three, but I don't bet on that," Ray said.
Ray said due to the seriousness of these accusations, his department will likely seek assistance from the ABI and FBI during the investigation.
"Yeah, it's overwhelming. Can we get it done? Sure we can get it done. We don't have any dishonor in asking for outside help because of the overwhelming and sensitive nature," said Ray.
He said because of the serious nature of these claims, the children aren't the only victims in this case.
"The members of the church are victims too. Those people have never done anything wrong who just went there to worship. They're going to be victims too," said Ray.
Lemay said he's still supportive of Brazelle, however.
"I told him I loved him, and I'm behind him. It's just tough; it's really tough."
Church officials said the man was released from his position with the church.