72-year-old pastor charged with sexual assault of child

Billy W. Vandergraph (Source: Union Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
Billy W. Vandergraph (Source: Union Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

By Heartland News

ALTO PASS, IL (KFVS) - A well known pastor and community leader in Alto Pass faces child sex abuse charges.

The prosecutor charged 72-year-old Bill Vandergraph with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child Thursday.

Vandergraph is accused of committing a sexual act with a child under 13 between January and May of 2010.

He was taken into custody on the evening of July 14 following an investigation by the Illinois State Police and Union County Sheriff's Office.

Vandergraph was taken to the Tri-County Jail in Ullin on $500,000 bond.

His initial appearance is set for July 16 at 9 a.m. at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.

He is president of the Friends of the Cross group that's renovating the Bald Knob Cross.

Steven M. McKeown, President of Bald Knob Cross of Peace, issued this statement in response to Vandergraph's arrest.

"I learned of the arrest of Mr. Vandergraph at approximately noon today and am saddened and shocked by the allegations. If the allegations are true, my prayers of comfort go first towards the victim and his or her family and then to those in his church and community. If the allegations prove false, my concerns for well-being would extend to all those aforementioned individuals minus the accuser. Bill Vandergraph is president of the Friends of the Cross. I serve as president of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace. The two separate organizations are joined in their mission to restore the monument atop Bald Knob. We will allow the courts to focus on the tragic allegations against Mr. Vandergraph. On behalf of the Bald Knob Cross Board of Directors, we will continue to serve in our court mandated mission to see the Bald Knob Cross of Peace monument restored and the organization itself placed on a firm foundation for the future."

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