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Court dates set for leaders
Neosho Daily News ^ | 2/20/07 | John Ford

Posted on 02/20/2007 6:02:33 PM PST by AlaninSA

PINEVILLE - Court dates have been set for several area church leaders facing child sexual abuse charges.

Raymond Lambert and his wife, Patty, have been ordered to appear at 10 a.m. June 5 for a trial setting pre-trial conference, 40th Circuit Court Judge Timothy Perigo ruled this morning.

The decision came after Robert Evenson, defense attorney, said he was not requesting a speedy trial in the case due to lengthy discovery. Both he and McDonald County Prosecutor Janice Durbin said they will be taking depositions from out-of-state witnesses.

Raymond Lambert, the pastor of Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church, faces a total of seven felony counts: Three Class C felony charges of second degree statutory sodomy; and four Class D charges of second degree child molestation.

Charges alleged he acted in concert with his wife, Patty Lambert, in molesting a girl who was less than 17 at the time of the alleged incident. In another charge, he is accused of acting in concert with Laura Epling, the wife of a church deacon, in molesting a girl younger than 17.

Patty Lambert and Laura Epling both face a Class C felony charge of second degree statutory sodomy. A pre-trial conference has been set for 10 a.m. March 13 for Laura Epling.

Johnston, the uncle of Raymond Lambert and pastor of the Grandview Valley Baptist Church in Granby, faces a Class A felony charge of first degree child molestation in McDonald County, and 17 felony charges relating to child sexual abuse in Newton County.

Jury selection concerning the Newton County charges is expected to begin Friday in Cass County. Jurors will then be transported to Neosho, with trial to begin next Monday afternoon.

During court this morning, defense attorney Andy Wood requested the court wait on setting a trial on the McDonald County charge until after next week's trial on the Newton County charges. Four days - Monday through Thursday - have been set aside for the Newton County trial. A young woman, now 17, has accused the Granby pastor of sexual incidents beginning when she was 8 years old and ending shortly after her last birthday, when she left the church. The majority of the alleged incidents took place in Newton County, but some, leading to the child molestation charge, reportedly happened in McDonald County.

“In the Newton County case, you requested a speedy trial,” Perigo said. “Do you wish to waive a speedy trial in this case?”

Wood replied he did, as he wanted to bring the 17-charge Newton County case to a conclusion.

Perigo then set Johnston's next court appearance on the McDonald County charge for 1 p.m. April 17.

The 17-year-old's allegations have led to eight charges of child sexual abuse in Newton County. Her older sister, now 20, also has made allegations of child sexual abuse, resulting in eight felony charges against Johnston.

Another man charged in the church sex scandal, Grand Valley church deacon Paul Epling, will appear Monday morning for a hearing on a felony rape charge. A 35-year-old woman alleges he raped her when she was a child in 1977.

On Jan. 29, Newton County Division II Associate Circuit Court Judge Greg Stremel took the charge under advisement, pending judicial review of state statutes.

TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: baptist; molestation; scandal

1 posted on 02/20/2007 6:02:34 PM PST by AlaninSA
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To: AlaninSA
Thanks for providing this update on the story you first reported on last August. From what I've read, "Grand Valley Independent Baptist" is less of a church than it is a compound...
Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church is located at the end of a lonely dirt and gravel road snaking through wooded slopes into a remote pocket of McDonald County behind a locked gate, behind which is said to sprawl a 100-acre property that includes a farm, the Grand Valley Christian Academy, a cemetery, Grand Valley Kennels, a country music band Centrefire, Suns of Thunder Records, Inc., Grand Valley Outfitters and Distributors and a number of homes. Sugar Creek Road, which is several miles southeast of Powell (and about 13 miles west of Washburn, MO), is known for its isolation and tranquility. The compound is behind a high gate marked "Grand Valley Farm" on a gravel road. The gate is barred with "No Trespassing" signs.

Until about three months ago, about 100 people lived on the property. Today, there are fewer than two dozen people left.

That comes from a blog that's devoted to tracking and documenting these crimes; you may be interested in reading it.

What I posted to your earlier thread is IMO worth repeating:

Given the lack of ecclesiastical/denominational accountability among "Independent Baptist" congregations, I'm not terribly surprised this went on as long as it's alleged. Without pastoral oversight and accountability, these indy preachers can pretty much preach or do anything they want.

In contrast to the recent Catholic scandals, it's interesting that these men abused underage girls, not underage boys. Also note that all of the accused are related to one another, meaning the practice may have been learned from/accepted by family members.

2 posted on 02/20/2007 6:48:37 PM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

Hey...I'm not surprised by anything the snake-handling crowd does. Their "churches" are simply shrines to the "pastors" - no theological foundation...

3 posted on 02/21/2007 5:06:30 PM PST by AlaninSA ("Beware the fury of a patient man." - John Dryden)
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