Sexual abuse case against Powell County pastor sent to grand jury
A preliminary hearing was held on Tuesday for a Powell County pastor facing two counts of sexual abuse. The hearing was held in Wolfe County since there is not any court in Powell County this week.
After listening to testimony from Powell County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Matthews the judge did decide there is enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury.
During his testimony, Deputy Matthews explained what led to his arrest of, Steve Williams, the pastor of Bowen First Church of God.
Matthews explained how the 11-year-old alleged victim told investigators her pastor was driving her and her sisters to West Virginia for a white water rafting trip back in August.
Investigators say the young girl claims while her sisters were asleep in the back seat, Williams assumed she also was asleep in the front seat. She said that is when Williams put his hand underneath her blanket and down her pants. The 11-year-old told investigators her pastor told her he was looking for his cell phone.
Shortly after learning about these allegations Deputy Matthews says the 11-year-old's 16-year-old sister admitted to her parents she also had been inappropriately touched.
The teen told investigators it all started about a year and a half ago while on a church trip to a museum, then happening as recently as early December while she was doing some work at Williams' church.
She said that is where the pastor started massaging her shoulders before then putting his hands down her shirt. The 16-year-old girl told investigators Williams then turned out the lights and locked the door before continuing. Deputy Matthews explained that the girl then yelled, 'Stop, we can't do this.' He said Williams did stop and then drove the young girl home.
After Matthew's testimony the judge did send the case to the grand jury, Williams attorney then asked for a bond reduction.
Two longtime pastors spoke in favor of Williams at the hearing, saying the allegations are completely out of character. They also talked about how they believe Williams will comply with the judge's orders and would not be a danger to anyone else.
In addition to the two pastors, Deputy Matthews, the deputy investigating the case also spoke in favor of the request saying he does not consider Williams a flight risk.
The attorney for Williams, Jerry Patton, asked the judge to reduce the $300,000 bond to $50,000 saying his client is willing to stay out of Powell County and away from children.
Ultimately the judge denied the request saying while he agrees Williams is not a flight risk, he says the allegations are egregious.
Williams is being held at the Clark County Detention Center. Deputies say Williams is being held there because he had a jail ministry at the Powell County jail.
His attorney, Jerry Patton, says he’s known Williams about 25 years, and from what he’s seen, the minister is someone who always tried to help others, not hurt them.
“The charges do not fit this man's character, I'll just tell you that upfront. He has an excellent reputation in the community. He has been a pastor for a number of years and involved in civic events. He's been kind to everyone I know of. I've never heard anyone say a bad word about this fellow," said Patton.