Pastor acquitted on molestation count

TUSCUMBIA, Mo. (ABP) -- A Missouri Baptist minister has been acquitted in a child molestation charge heard in Miller County Sept. 28.

TUSCUMBIA, Mo. (ABP) -- A Missouri Baptist minister has been acquitted in a child molestation charge heard in Miller County Sept. 28.

Travis Smith, 41, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stover, Mo., was acquitted in the yearlong case after the jury deliberated for less than an hour. On Sept. 23, 2010, Smith was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor child molestation count in Morgan County for two incidents that allegedly occurred with a 14-year-old girl in May last year. According to news reports at the time, the girl accused Smith of touching her inappropriately.

Smith also was charged with second-degree statutory rape, a felony, in a case resulting from a 2008 complaint filed by a woman who alleged she and Smith had a sexual relationship from July 2004 through July 2007.

The felony charge was dropped last December because the accuser was 17 years old at the time the alleged relationship began, rather than 15 as had been claimed. Seventeen-year-olds are considered adults under Missouri law.

A change of venue to Miller County from Morgan County was granted March 24 on the misdemeanor charge.

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Vicki Brown is associate editor of Word and Way.