New details in minister sex abuse case

Ralph Aaron

(photo from Covington County Sheriff's Department)

By Bryan Henry

WSFA-12 News

Montomery, Alabama

October 28, 2009

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - So far there is no evidence that any of the alleged sex crimes pastor Ralph Lee Aaron is accused of took place at Grace Christian Fellowship Church in Andalusia.

The church fired Aaron immediately after his arrest. WSFA 12 News also learned that once investigators recovered his computer and camera equipment from his home, he was invited to the Covington County Sheriff's Office. Aaron never showed up at the appointed hour.

"The next day on Wednesday Mr. Aaron failed to show up for his 2:00pm interview. Around 3:00pm he was arrested and placed in the Covington County Jail," said Sheriff Dennis Meeks.

WSFA 12 News has learned the number of victims still stands at 4 even though Aaron faces more than 150 counts of sex crimes, mostly production of obscene materials such as photographs, and some of those pictures include his victims. The ages of the victims range from 8 to 12, but the primary investigator in the case hinted.. this case may not be over.

"We don't know where this case will go but we will investigate to the end," said investigator Wesley Snodgrass.

There are reports that Ralph Lee Aaron is from Opp and graduated from high school in 1973. Authorities say he was a retired Navy man, married for 32 years with a daughter. He lived in the Andalusia community for about 7 years before all of this broke.

"There is no evidence Mrs. Aaron knew and if she did she would be in custody. They've lost a father and the church has lost a minister, so this is a tragedy for them as well," said Snodgrass.

It was the first victim's mother who blew the case wide open. She sat down and talked with her son after hearing a rumor about Aaron, a rumor dating back 4 years ago when, according to detectives, Aaron made a verbal sexual advance to another youngster.

"The 2005 case was looked at by Andalusa police and DHR and the case was not a felony offense so there could not be a prosecution," said Covington County District Attorney Greg Gambril.

That particular case, in fact, was a misdemeanor but by the time the complaint had been filed the statue of limitations had run out.

Meantime, the Covington County victims in the current case reportedly suffered no permanent physical injuries and are now with their families.

As for Ralph Aaron?

"He is separated in a cell away from the general population for his safety," said Snodgrass.

Separated on a record bond of $24 million.

One other new development today. Ralph Aaron now a court-appointed attorney. He's Al Smith of Elba. WSFA 12 News was unable to reach Smith to get their side of the story.

Covington County investigators say Aaron continues to remain 'stoic' and seemingly 'unremorseful' about the charges against him. (with video)

SNAP Note: Victory Baptist Church in Andalusia, Alabama, is shown as an SBC-affiliated church.

See also:

Pastor faces 152 counts, Andalusia Star-News, 10/28/09

Former Alabama pastor charged with child abuse, porn possession, Associated Baptist Press, 10/29/2009