Minister in sex crimes case may not see trial

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - One week from Friday Covington County District Attorney Greg Gambril will sit down with suspect Ralph Lee Aaron and his attorney in what's commonly called a preliminary settlement hearing.

"This is to see if we can seek a resolution," said Gambril.

Not an unusual move but one requested by the defendant and a hearing that could determine whether the horrific allegations against Aaron will be heard in court.

"It is my goal to have him serve consecutive life sentences. Now having said that I also want to visit with the victims' families and I plan on doing that next week," said Gambril.

Aaron's attorney Al Smith of Elba told WSFA 12 News he would 'make no comment outside the courtroom.'

Weighing against the former church pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship Church in Andalusia are more than 150 sex crimes, some of the charges include sexual torture and sodomy.  Most of the charges are allegations of producing obscene materials which include photographs and movies of sex acts with his victims, according to investigators.

Authorities have said the acts took place not only at various campgrounds in Covington County about a year ago, but also behind Aaron's home in his backyard in Andalusia.

"He is the defendant and he has a constitutional right to a trial," Gambril said.

Gambril, meantime, would not predict how the hearing will go, no prediction on whether or not there will be a trial. The settlement hearing will take place in the judge's chambers, away from open court.

If there is no resolution in the settlement hearing, then the case moves to the next legal phase which is a preliminary hearing. That's where the judge will officially inform Aaron of the charges arrayed against him.

Detectives say Aaron's alleged victims are all boys between the ages of 8 and 12. Ralph Lee Aaron is currently in the Covington County jail on a record bond of 24 million dollars.

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