Heartland Church Leaders Charged With Sexual Assault
January 11, 2003 at 2:37 AM CST - Updated June 16 at 4:41 PM
Three leaders at a Heartland church could be taking a trip from the pulpit to prison, after being charged with sexually assaulting another church member.
All three men, who attend the Marble Hill Bible Chapel, now face felony charges of sexual assault and deviant sexual assault.In a probable cause affidavit filed in Bollinger County Court, the defendants are listed as 43-year old Frank Burgess, a “some-time preacher of sorts”; 44-year old Sunday school teacher Bruce Johnson; and 67-year old Hurley Dixon, a song leader at the church.
The church leaders are accused of having sexual relations with a mentally challenged member of the same church.The 23-year old woman is described as having the mental capacity of a 5-year old.
According to the affidavit, the Bollinger County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol began investigating the men in February of 2002, after the woman’s family went to police.Investigators say that for a period of months, the three men would meet with the alleged victim individually to have sex with her, both at their own homes and at other places, including the church.
The woman also made other shocking claims involving the use of the church building.She told investigators that Bruce Johnson showed her pornographic films in the Sunday school room, and that Hurley Dixon would let her know when he wanted to have sex by flashing a light in a room of the church.
In the affidavit, all three men denied the accusations, along with the fact that the victim had ever been inside their homes.But after their homes were searched, items the woman had described were seized as evidence, and the men were arrested and charged.
If convicted, each of the men could spend up to fourteen years in jail.
Burgess, Johnson, and Dixon were all released from jail after posting five thousand dollars bond.The church leaders will be back in court on February 27th for their preliminary hearings.