Alto Pass community reacts to pastor's charges

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

ALTO PASS, IL - (KFVS) - A prominent pastor in Alto Pass is out on bond. After being charged with sexually assaulting a child under 13 years of age.

Police arrested 72-year-old Bill Vandergraph on the evening of July 14th.

Prior to his arrest Vandergraph served as the pastor of the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in Alto Pass. And the president of the board for the Friend of the Cross.

Those duties are on hold, after the criminal charges were filed in a Union County courtroom.

Now some of the people who have known Vandergraph are speaking out on his behalf.

"I think that some of the things and accusations that's being said about this gentleman are way off base," said Steven Bailey of Alto Pass.

"He's done nothing but serve the lord. And try to be a good upstanding man in my eyes."

Vandergraph also drove a school bus for the past few years. Now that job and his days in the pulpit could be in jeopardy.

And some people in the Alto Pass community fear the situation could end up shining a bad light on the town.

"I just sense that anyway this goes it's going to be a tragedy," said Gary Austin of Alto Pass.

"It's a tragedy for him and his family. It's a tragedy for the young girl and her family. As well as the community. No one likes to see someone go down."

The terms on Vandergraph's bond are that he can only leave his home for medical and legal purposes. And he can not have any contact with anyone under the age of 18.

Vandergraph is due back in a Union County courtroom for a preliminary hearing on August 13th, at 9 o'clock in the morning.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.