N.J. Pastor Cleared of Sex Assault Charges
By Andy Polhamus
March 5, 2016
Prosecutors have dropped charges against a Franklin Township pastor who was accused of sexually assaulting a teenager.
James E. Simmons, Jr., pastor of New Life In Christ Ministries, was 64 when he was accused last April of sexually assaulting a teenage girl. The alleged victim was 21 at the time of Simmons' arrest, and told Franklin police that the abuse had begun when she was 17.
Simmons turned himself in, and was charged with multiple counts of second-degree sex assault, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released upon posting $150,000 bail.
Last month, however, the accuser recanted her statement, said Bernie Weisenfeld of the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office. Authorities dropped the charges shortly afterward.
"There were no admissions by the defendant, there was no physical evidence and no other witnesses who saw this," Weisenfeld said. "In that situation, without the ability to produce a victim's testimony, it was not possible to go forward with the case."
The prosecutor's office could not provide any further information. A request for comment from the church has not yet been returned.
Andy Polhamus may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajpolhamus. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.