Unfortunately, when someone in Missouri or elsewhere is accused of committing a sexual assault, a familiar pattern tends to emerge. Most people assume that the defendant is guilty even before the defendant and the defense attorney get to present the defendant's side of the story.
This appears not to be the case for a pastor in Stover, Missouri, however. This past October, prosecutors charged the pastor with second-degree statutory rape, forcible rape and sexual abuse, among other charges. But many of his parishioners have rallied to his defense.
It was reported that no church member offered a motion to remove the pastor from his position with the church. The charges date from events that were alleged to have occurred in the late 1990s and in 2005, and one church member asked rhetorically why the alleged assaults had not been reported earlier. Another indicated that the pastor was the best pastor he had ever had.
These parishioners understand that under our system of law, a criminal defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution has ample opportunity to tell its side of the story during the investigation, but it is important that the other side of the story is conveyed as well.
Much has been made of the fact that the pastor was accused of sexual abuse a few years ago. But he was not convicted: The charges were dropped in one case, and he was found not guilty in the other.
Not every criminal defendant is lucky enough to get a great deal of support from the community. But almost all defendants get the chance to present the facts to an impartial jury, and the trial is sometimes the best venue in which to avoid a miscarriage of justice in the form of a wrongful conviction.
Source: stltoday.com, "Fate of Baptist pastor accused of abuse is in the hands of his flock," Tim Townsend, Dec. 09, 2012