Pastor Charged with Sex Crimes

By Susan Daker and Ron Colquitt
November 29, 2007

The pastor of a small Washington County Baptist Church was arrested and charged with second-degree rape and second-degree sodomy in connection with a nearly 10-year-old incident involving a 15-year-old girl, authorities said.

The Rev. Leonard Frazier, 55, of Stonewall Baptist Church near Chatom, was booked into Mobile County Metro Jail on Tuesday on the basis of a grand jury indictment. He was released on bail totaling $15,000, according to jail records.

A phone call made to Frazier's home in Mount Vernon on Tuesday evening resulted in no comment. No one answered the telephone at the church Wednesday.

The alleged victim is now in her mid-20s, said Steve Giardini, the Mobile County assistant district attorney who prosecutes child-abuse cases.

"It took a number of years for her to come forward," he said.

There is no statute of limitations in Alabama involving sex crimes against children.

State law holds that second-degree rape happens when someone 16 years old or older engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is less than 16 years old and more than 12 years old, provided that the offender is two years older than the victim.

Giardini said he was unsure if the woman has ever been a member of Stonewall Baptist Church. She is not a blood relative to Frazier but did know him through her family, the prosecutor said.

As with any case, Giardini said, anyone with information about allegations against Frazier should come forward.

"At this time, I'm not aware of any other complaints," Giardini said.

Court records show that Frazier was involved in a paternity battle in 2000. A Malcolm, Ala., woman filed suit against Frazier and another man.

Blood tests connected Frazier to the child, and he was ordered to pay monthly child support until 2004, the records show.

Marriage records show that Frazier married Berthia Jo Boxley in 1980.

Jail records list Frazier's address as the 19000 block of Pine Grove Church Road, Mount Vernon, in northern Mobile County. In October, however, Frazier and his wife bought a home in Saraland, according to mortgage records.

On Tuesday, two members of the Chatom community expressed shock about the news of Frazier's arrest.

"I find him to be a righteous man, and his life has always been lined up with the word," said Roscoe Gatson, chairman of the deacons' board at Stonewall.

Gatson said the church, which has fewer than 100 members, is in the Jordan community.

Cleophus Stephens, a Chatom city councilman and chairman of the deacons' board at Lilly Grove Baptist Church in Chatom, said Frazier is well-liked.

"He is a nice person, and he lives in Mount Vernon," Stephens said. "I don't know about his life in the community, but people around the church really like him."


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