By Jeff Lehr
PINEVILLE, Mo. — The pastor of a fringe church has been indicted by a McDonald County grand jury on eight sexual-abuse charges that will supersede the eight counts filed late last year by the prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutor Janice Durbin said the grand jury on Friday handed down four counts of second-degree child molestation, three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one count of sexual abuse against Raymond Lambert, 52, pastor of Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church. Lambert is accused of sexually abusing two teenage girls several times between February 1995 and April 2004, according to court documents.
Durbin’s office had filed the exact same eight charges against Lambert on Dec. 3.
Durbin told the Globe on Monday that the indictments mean Lambert’s case will move directly to McDonald County Circuit Court without a preliminary hearing. That hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 25.
Lambert originally faced three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and four counts of second-degree child molestation until Nov. 6, when Durbin’s office dropped those charges. Also dropped that day were a charge of second-degree child molestation against Lambert’s wife, Patricia Lambert, 50, and a charge of second-degree statutory sodomy against his sister-in-law, Laura Epling.
No charges have been refiled against Patricia Lambert or Epling.
But sexual-abuse charges still remain against George Otis Johnston, 64, pastor of Grandview Valley Baptist Church North in Newton County, a sister church to Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church.
Between Newton and McDonald counties, Johnston is accused of nine counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, six counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and two counts of first-degree child molestation.
A pretrial conference on the McDonald County charges is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 5 in McDonald County Circuit Court. A jury trial on the Newton County charges against Johnston is set to begin July 14 in Vernon County on a change of venue.
Staff writer Derek Spellman contributed to this report.