Sumter pastor denies church arson charges, resigns from board

A member of the state’s juvenile probation board has resigned the post in the wake of charges that he illegally set fires in Sumter County last month.

But the Rev. Isaac Johnson said he’s innocent.

Johnson, also a Sumter District 17 school board member, faces two counts of second degree arson in connection with a pair of building fires in late February. Johnson, of Buckingham Boulevard in Sumter, said he was jailed for the first time, as a result of the charges.

“Did I do this? I did not,” Johnson said when reached Friday by The State. “I’m just carrying on with my life as usual.”

Johnson declined further comment Friday morning, but later resigned from the juvenile parole board.

“This resignation should not reflect guilt in the charges that have been filed against me,’’ the letter said.

Johnson, 49, is a pastor and former probation and parole officer with the Department of Juvenile Justice in Lee County.

Gov. Mark Sanford,. who asked for his resignation, received Johnson’s letter Friday afternoon.

“Given the nature of the charges, we thought asking for his resignation would be appropriate,” Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said.

Attempts to reach Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson were unsuccessful Friday.