McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Court Reports

February 28, 2014

Sex abuse charges dropped for Jehovah's Witness elder

Statute of limitations cited

McALESTER — Charges have been dismissed for a McAlester church elder who allegedly molested, raped and sodomized three adults when they were children.

The charges were dismissed Wednesday for Ronald Lawrence, 76, of McAlester, an elder with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to court records. Associate District Judge James Bland dismissed the charges based on statue of limitation arguments from Lawrence’s attorney; the prosecutor in the case announced her intent to appeal Bland’s decision.

Lawrence had been accused of 11 counts of lewd molestation, five counts of forcible oral sodomy, two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of rape by instrumentation of three separate children from 1977 to 1982. The alleged victims in the case include a McAlester woman who was 8 to 13 at the time, a Muskogee man when he was 5, and a Haskell woman when she was 10 to 13, according to court records.

A court affidavit had alleged Lawrence was a church elder at the time of attacks that occurred at his home, in a pool and lake, and in a basement and janitor’s closet at a bank. The affidavit also alleges Lawrence named four church elders involved in his “dis-fellowship” from his McAlester church and that he lost his job at a bank due to some of the allegations.

Lawrence’s attorney, Warren Gotcher, of McAlester, succeeded in his arguments to have the case dismissed based on an expiration of a statute of limitations.

Prosecutor Danita Williams, of the district attorney’s office for Pittsburg County, had argued that the statute of limitations applies to the time the crime is reported to law enforcement. She also asked the court, in a Jan. 28 brief, to allow her to present “proof regarding the ‘concealment’ of this crime by the wrongdoer, defendant Ronald H. Lawrence and the entire church body, most especially the governing body of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

She alleged in the brief that “The actions of the church, their banishment of the defendant on more than one occasion and the directives of the governing body toward the victims and their family members regarding these crimes were actions of ‘concealment’ and further actions preventing the victims from reporting the crimes to law enforcement.”

A phone call from the News-Capital to a man who said he was Ronald Lawrence was disconnected Friday, and neither Gotcher nor Williams immediately returned phone calls seeking comment on the matter. There was no answer at a phone listing for Jehovah’s Witnesses in McAlester.

Lawrence had faced more than 365 years imprisonment if convicted of the charges.

Contact Kandra Wells at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Court Reports
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.