A 76-year-old elder was arrested on Tuesday on 19 counts of sexual abuse after Oklahoma detectives received reports from several children he molested more than 30 years ago.
Ronald Lawrence preyed on up to four children in his congregation in McAlester during the 80s. His victims are now in their forties.
Police were first tipped off in August when the first victim stepped forward. She alleged that Lawrence had raped her at his home in his bathtub when she was just eight years old.
Police were then told of two other victims also abused by Lawrence. One recalled being molested when she was between the ages of 10 and 13. These assaults took place “in Lawrence’s swimming pool, at the lake and in the janitor’s closet at the First National Bank where he worked,” according to reports.
Detectives first spoke to Lawrence on October 25th when he denied sexual contact with two of his victims, but confirmed that he had acted inappropriately with one young girl. “I’m sure and [it] may have been on purpose, I touched her,” he said.
Lawrence later telephoned one of the detectives and revealed that he had confessed his actions to local elders back in 2005 in order to get reinstated.
Lawrence’s arrest warrant indicates that he did not believe the congregation pursued any measures to inform law enforcement of his potential crimes. Police are therefore looking into whether elders took proper action to report his abuse to the authorities.