Former Pastor Accused of Sex Abuse Dies

November 10, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Family members of a former pastor, accused of sex crimes, said he has died.

Dr. Robert Gray founded Trinity Baptist Church on the Westside and was its pastor for decades. Family members told Channel 4 that he died at about noon Saturday at the age of 81.

Gray was slated to stand trial Nov. 12 on three counts of capital sexual battery, but after Judge John Merrett visited Gray in the hospital, the judge ruled the trial would be indefinitely postponed because Gray was incapacitated. Gray was hospitalized earlier this month.

Robert Gray appeared in person at his arraignment on a fourth sexual battery charge in 2006. He was allowed to remain free on bond.

Gray was the subject in several criminal and civil suits, accused of sexually assaulting young members of his church in the 1960s and 1970s. The civil lawsuits have been brought as negligence actions against the church.

Gray founded Trinity Baptist Church on Jacksonville's Westside nearly 40 years ago and later founded the church's Christian school. He retired from Trinity in 1992.

Gray's attorney, David Barksdale, released this statement on behalf of Gray's family: "The family is confident, as he was confident, that he is in heaven now by God's grace."

The plaintiff's attorney, Adam Horowitz, said Gray's depositions had already been taken.

"Should he pass, his testimony is preserved for purposes of our jury trial," Horowitz said.

The hearing for Gray's criminal case was set for Dec. 12.


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