Local minister arrested, charged with abuse

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2002

Greenville minister James Randy Acker, 63, of 701 Government Street, was arrested last Saturday night, June 15, at the Greenville Police Department after turning himself in on a warrant issued for his arrest for sexual abuse, second degree.

He is the minister of the House of Prayer, a non-denominational church, on Government Street in Greenville.

The warrant

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for Acker's arrest was signed by the mother of the victim, after reports were filed "because of the possibility that the suspect (Acker) had fondled and kissed the victim on several occasions."

A witness allegedly alerted the mother to the situation.

"My 15-year-old daughter went to a friend's house and neighbors came to me and told me what was going on. She admitted that she and Acker had been having a relationship for the last year," said the mother. "She did not have sex with him, but he was kissing on her and fondling her. My daughter said that he said he was in love with her and she's young and bought into it.

"My daughter said that he told her his wife wouldn't have sex with him and she was sent to be his partner," the mother said. "She also said that he said he was going to give her all of his money in his will. He messed up her mind."

On Tuesday during an interview with The Greenville Advocate, Acker denied that any wrongdoing had occurred. "I haven't done anything. I was praying in a meeting, and I called and my wife told me.

"The young girl needs helpshe's having family problems and she came to me for help. She asked me if I would help her. She has a low esteem about herself and I tried to build her esteem up that she was a somebody," Acker said.

"She had for a long time wanted to kill herself and felt that she wasn't loved by her family. She was always cutting herself and she would do crazy things. I tried to help her. I am a 63-year-old-man, she's a 15-year-old girl, and I did my best to build her self-esteem. I tried to help her through prayer and Bible scriptures. I would counsel her and I'd advise her what to do and I'd tell her if she did something like that, where she would go and what would happen to her. She really felt rejected and she wanted everybody

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she'd write their names on her arm. But that's a child, I meanI really don't know what she said about me," he said.

Acker also pulled a letter from his wallet that he said the girl gave to him. "She said (in the letter) that she was sorry because she treated me bad, and because she cursed me, and cursed the family. And she said she was in love with me. I'm 63 years old. She ain't but 15. I told her I love her in Christ, and I do, I really do. I love every kid and I don't want to see none of them go astray."

Acker said he had been pastor of the House of Prayer for 10 years and that nothing like this had ever come up before. He said the girl's family had problems and "I guess I got into it. I regret all of this and I regret to have to put my wife through all of this. I'm deep down hurt. The young girl keeps saying she's in love with me, she's in love with me. We were dismissing from church one night and we were standing outside her house and I hugged her and (the lady across the street) was looking, and I said, Look at them, they are going to think something.' She told me, I'll give them something to talk about,' and then she kissed me, but I ain't like thatshe does crazy things," Acker said.

He said that the young girl would stand in his doorway when he wanted to leave,

and would not let him leave. "She needs help, but I guess there is going to have to be someone there when they do help her. Anytime I would start to leave a lot of times and she would say, You ain't going nowhere.' But, like I said, I'm a 63-year-old man and she's a 15-year-old girl done that, and that really made me feel good too, but still and all, I am a minister of the gospel."

Greenville Police filled out reports on the incident and interviewed all those involved, including the witnesses' 12-year-old daughter.

Other reports have been filed regarding the case, which is under investigation by the Greenville Police Department.

In what may or may not be a related incident, Acker's wife, Joyce O. Acker, was arrested Friday, June 14 on a warrant for harassing communications. The complaint was filed by the mother of the alleged victim.

An investigation is now being conducted regarding these incidents by the Greenville Police Department.

Butler County District Attorney John Andrews said that the charge of sexual abuse, second degree, is a misdemeanor and that this is the charge that was brought against Acker due to the age of the victim and the offender. "I understand that he was arrested for sexual abuse, second degree," he said. "This is due to the age of the child. She is over 12 and he is over 16."

Andrews said that for felony charges to be constituted, the victim must be under the age of 12 years and the offender must be over the age of 19 years.

He said the investigation into the case is continuing and the district attorney's office will prosecute Acker for the sexual abuse, second degree, charge and that the maximum sentence will be requested.

For sexual abuse, second degree, the maximum sentence is one year in a county jail, $2,000 restitution fees to the family and the offender is required to register with the sheriff's office as a sexual offender. If the offender fails to register as a sexual offender or fails to follow those guidelines set for sexual offenders, he or she may be sentenced to serve time in prison.

"In his sentencing, we are going to ask for the maximum sentence," Andrews said. "We are going to present it and if he is convicted, we are going ask that the judge give him the maximum."