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Monday, May 22, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Molestation charges leveled at Trinity Christian Academy founder

A former Jacksonville FLA pastor has been charged with molesting his young parishioners several decades ago. Now, police believe more victims could be out there.

Dr. Robert Gray, founder of Trinity Christian Academy, remains in jail without bond after investigators say he spent decades keeping a dirty little secret.

"Right now, he is being charged with two counts of capital sexual battery and there are two different victims," says Lt. Annie Smith with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sex crimes unit.

So far, investigators say 15 women who attended his church or school have come forward claiming Dr. Gray molested them when they were children. Sources close to the case say the alleged victims broke their silence after learning that Gray was returning to Jacksonville after serving as a missionary in Germany.

Because the allegations date back to 1969, there's no physical evidence against Gray and authorities are building their case based solely on the statements of more than a dozen women."

“This is a hurdle for us, but we are investigating it as if it happened 20 minutes ago," says Lt. Smith.

Gray, now 80, faces two counts of capital sexual battery, a more serious charge for alleged victims under the age of 12.

Police say the other cases involved children who were over 12 at the time. Their cases can never be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations, but could still be helpful in other cases.

“Any information that we get only bolsters the cases we have,” says Smith. “We can use their statements in future prosecution of these types of crimes."

An attorney for Trinity Baptist Church issued a statement, saying:

"Trinity's mission is to serve Christ. Any abuse of a minor hinders the church from accomplishing that mission is immoral, is sinful and a violation of what Trinity stands for.”

Investigators say there could be more victims out there, and have advised anyone with information to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 630-0500. Callers can remain anonymous.

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