2 Ozarks Pastors, 3 Others Accused of Sexual Abuse

The Associated Press, carried in St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Washburn MO]
August 24, 2006

Authorities Wednesday were seeking a second Ozarks pastor accused of sexually abusing children in his congregation, The Joplin Globe reported.

Newton County authorities believe the missing pastor's church is affiliated with Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church, whose pastor, his wife and her brothers have been accused of sexually abusing girls from their congregation for years, the paper said.

Felony complaints including child molestation and sodomy were filed last week by the McDonald County prosecutor against the Rev. Raymond Lambert, pastor of Grand Valley Independent Baptist; his wife, Patty Lambert; and her brothers, Paul and Tom Epling.

Prosecutors allege that Lambert, 51, helped by his 49-year-old wife, repeatedly molested and had sex with two underage girls, "as part of a ritual or ceremony," according to the court filing.

Separate felony complaints against Paul Epling, 53, and Tom Epling, 51, allege that each repeatedly had sex with girls as young as age 4 in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The second pastor is the Rev. George O. Johnston, 63, leader of Grandview Valley Baptist Church North. Felony warrants charge Johnston with eight counts of statutory sodomy involving the children of church members, the newspaper reported.

Lambert's church is on property owned by the Epling brothers, deputy sheriff Michael F. Le Seuer said.


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