Archive for Saturday, December 30, 2000

Youth leader held on bond

December 30, 2000

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Charges will be filed Tuesday against the man accused of sexually abusing children he met through the Tonganoxie church where he is a youth group leader.

The 33-year-old Lawrence resident appeared via video link Friday afternoon in Douglas County District Court, but no charges were filed. Instead, District Judge Jack Murphy set bond at $20,000 and prohibited the suspect from having contact with anyone under the age of 18.

As of 10 p.m. Friday, the man still was being held at the jail.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich said charges would be filed at a hearing scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday. Charges were not filed against the man Friday because Lawrence Police Department investigators have not completed reports, Tonkovich said.

"This was a lengthy investigation," Tonkovich said. "There are a lot of interviews that are not written up yet."

The investigation culminated in the arrest of the man Thursday at his northwest Lawrence home on suspicion of two counts of sodomy, eight counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, one count of indecent liberties with a child and one count of hazing.

Tonkovich said she expected the man would be charged with 11 felony counts. She declined to say which of the 12 charges on which the suspect was arrested might not be pursued.

Police said Thursday that the charges involved five boys, ranging in age from 13 to 15, who were allegedly abused at the suspect's home in the 900 block of Riverside Court. The crimes are believed to have occurred during a three-year period. The suspect is a youth group leader at Tonganoxie United Methodist Church.

A man answering the door at the suspect's home declined to talk to a Journal-World reporter. Neighbors of the suspect also declined to be interviewed.

Along Tonganoxie's main street Friday, many residents professed ignorance of the suspect or his situation.

One man, who said he attended the Methodist Church, said the jailed youth group leader was "friendly."

"I liked him real well," said Gary Williams, a bartender at the Wander In. "He did a couple of funerals we went to. He did real well. Everybody liked him."

Williams said there was no indication of trouble with the suspect.

"My wife was talking about him the other day," Williams said. "We miss him."

The Journal-World generally does not name people accused of sex crimes until they have been convicted.

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