Authorities investigating Colleton Co. pastor over video taken in church
CANADYS, SC (WCSC) - - A Lowcountry preacher is under investigation after a video surfaced that allegedly shows him touching an underage girl during a church service.
The Colleton County Sheriff's Office and State Law Enforcement Division are investigating the Rev. Ralph Stair.
The investigation into Stair began on Oct. 2 after the Colleton County Sheriff's Office received a call about a video that came from a woman with a relative who is reportedly a member of Stair's Overcomer Ministry in Canadys.
A man who narrates the video says he used to belong to the church.
"He is a master manipulator and although he calls it a church, as a former member let me assure you that it is a cult," the narrator says.
The narrator says the video is a collection of clips from church services between July 1 and Oct. 1 of this year. The video appears to depict the 84-year old Stair telling a girl to get up and come to him.
"I'm gonna touch your, uh, what do you call them?" he says. The girl whispers something into his ear. "I never heard them called that anymore. I call them breasts. Lady has a problem with breasts."
In another part of the video, Stair calls up another girl.
"How old are you hon?" he asks her. "Twelve, getting right close to it now."
Then Stair tells her to come back up.
"Come here, I'll show you, just look, look here," he says.
Stair has the 12-year-old face the audience. In the video, Stair places his hand between her breasts.
"Growing up," he says.
The video shows Stair cupping the 12-year-old's right breast. Then she goes back to her seat.
"I'm gonna touch those things till nobody else can touch 'em," he says.
In 2002, Stair was arrested on charges of sexual assault for improperly touching two young female church members.
Live 5 News reporter Harve Jacobs tried to ask him questions after his bond reduction hearing.
"Rev. Stair, anything you want to say, sir?" Jacobs asks.
"Bless you," Stair responds.
"Are you running cult at that compound sir?" Jacobs asks.
"God bless you, sir," Stair answers.
Stair eventually agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges of assault and battery and was given two 30-day sentences with credit for time already spent in jail.
Access to Stair's compound is blocked by a gate. When contacted for a comment on these latest accusations, an employee of Overcomer Ministry said Stair was not available.
"You can leave your number," the employee said. "I'm not sure if he will call you back but you can leave your number."
The sheriff's office has watched the video along with a second video in which a 16-year-old girl claims she was molested by Stair when she belonged to the church.
Again, no charges have been filed against the minister.
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