Pastor Lawrence Smith Jailed on Sex Abuse Charges

This piece courtesy of Augusta Chronicle.


Aiken County investigators have arrested a 69-year-old pastor on accusations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl over a five-year period in the early 1990s.

Lawrence Smith, pastor of Free Indeed Holiness Church in Belvedere, is in jail on charges of three counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of lewd act upon a child, and three counts of assault and battery high and aggravated.

According to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, on several occasions between December 1990 and December 1995, Pastor Smith sexually assaulted the victim at his home on Bradleyville Road in North Augusta and at another home on the same road.

Lt. Michael Frank, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said today the abuse was reported to investigators in June 2007 by the victim who was in the county jail on unrelated charges.

“We know for a fact there are more victims,” Sheriff Michael Hunt said in a statement. “Some either have moved out of the area or do not want to cooperate, but we encourage anyone who has been a victim to come forward.”

The sheriff’s office said that in January 2005, a fire destroyed Free Indeed Holiness Church on Bradleyville Road, where the suspect served as pastor. The cause of the fire was never determined.

“It’s our understanding that he is the pastor of another smaller church by the same name working out of a store front in Belvedere at Belvedere-Clearwater Road and U.S. Highway 25,” Lt. Frank said.


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