April 07, 2006

Ministry members charged

St. Petersburg Times

Published April 7, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Like thousands of others, the college student drove to the famous Christmas House and its massive holiday display.

But she didn't come to see the twinkling lights. She wanted to visit a piece of her tortured past.

Outside the house at 2719 Oakdale St. S this past December, she saw the man who police say sexually assaulted her inside the house when she was a little girl.

That, police say, is when she decided she couldn't keep quiet anymore.

After investigating the woman's complaint, St. Petersburg police on Wednesday arrested three longtime members of the Gospel of Truth ministry, which puts on the Christmas display, on charges related to sexual battery. Police say they have uncovered horrific allegations that young children were assaulted by one of the ministry volunteers in the 1980s and early 1990s and forced to have sex with each other as ministry members watched.

Posted by kshaw at April 7, 2006 06:15 AM