McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Homepage

February 4, 2014

DA: Jehovah Witness Church concealed molestation crimes

McALESTER — “The entire church body of the Jehovah Witness Church” allegedly concealed child molestation crimes alleged against a man identified as a former church elder, according to a motion filed in Pittsburg County District Court.

The motion was filed Jan. 28 by the District 18 District Attorneys office in connection with molestation charges against Ronald Lawrence, 76.

Ronald was an elder in the McAlester Jehovah Witness Church, according to McAlester Police Dectective Sergeant Chris Morris.

“He is no longer an elder but he is still a member of the church,” Morris said.

According to the motion the State will present an offer of proof regarding concealment of the crime by Lawrence and the “entire church body, most especially the governing body of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses.”

In November Lawrence was charged in Pittsburg County District Court with 19 felony counts, including 11 of lewd molestation, seven of forcible sodomy and one count of rape by instrumentation.

The alleged victims in the cases were two preteen girls and one 5-year-old boy at the time.

Lawrence was arrested by McAlester police after three people came forward late last year alleging they had been molested some 30 years ago, according to the McAlester Police.

An affidavit filed in the case alleges one female was molested from the time she was 8 until she was 13 years old.

A second female alleged she was molested by Lawrence between the ages of 10 and 13, and a male alleged he was molested at the age of 5.

Lawrence told police that “he admitted to his church that all of the allegations were true” so that he could be reinstated into the church after being “dis-fellowshipped,” the affidavit alleges.

The affidavit alleges Lawrence said he confessed to his church and he named four Jehovah Witness church elders who he said were aware of some of the incidents.

Lawrence told police he confessed to his church about the allegations including an incident with fourth child, a boy who told his parents that he was “sexually assaulted” by Lawrence in the janitors closet at First National Bank, the affidavit alleges.

In December Lawrence’s attorney Warren Gotcher filed a motion stating the charges should dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

In response the district attorney’s motion states that because the alleged crimes were not reported to law enforcement until 2013, the statute of limitations has not run out.

The motion alleged that the Jehovah Witness Church prevented the victims from coming forward.

“The actions of the church, their banishment of (Lawrence) on one or more 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,” the motion alleges.

According to the motion, the State of Oklahoma is asking the court to overrule the defendants motion to dismiss and order the matter to proceed to preliminary hearing.

Lawrence was released from jail Nov. 24 after posting a $50,000 bond. As a condition of his bond, he is not to have contact with the alleged victims in the case.

If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

No one answered several calls to the Jehovah Witness Church and Lawrence could not be reached for comment.

A future court date had not been set by press-time today.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Local Sports
Softball Complex Maintenance Crew 1

Without the Pittsburg County Softball Complex field maintenance crew, seen here Thursday, all the rain that’s fallen this summer would’ve resulted in far more league and tournament cancellations. From left are Bill Geary, Brad Inman and Complex director Randy Norman.

Features
Pet of the Week

This kitten, blind in one eye, is available for adoption at Renegar Animal Hospital, 1550 S. Main St. For more information on this and other animals available for adoption call 918-423-1960 or visit www.renegaranimalhospital.com.

State news
Area crime and courts
Poll

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision?

Yes
No
     View Results
NDN Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl
Featured Ads
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Parade
Magazine

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.
SmugMug