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Friday, January 20, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

First Coast Pastor Goes to Jail, Many Parishoners Still Support Him

sent in by madamehel

He was thrown in jail for just 6 months, and given 3 years probation.

That's four and a half years less than the minimum time in jail for statutory rape.

Last Friday, Pastor Alexie Kelly violated that probation, and now he may be joined by many others not returning to his church come Sunday.

He could be considered a lucky man. Many of the people who listened to his sermons every Sunday are standing by him, even after his second arrest.

Joia Suggs is one of the few who say they're disappointed. "I was enjoying his sermons, I was feeling the spirit, so I continued to go. But now I'm questioning whether I should return," said Joia Suggs, Little Rock Baptist Church parishoner.

Arrested last March for allegedly having an affair with a 13-year-old girl, the 35-year-old pastor is behind bars again, this time, police say, for violating his parole for trying to contact the girl.

Many Little Rock Baptist Church parishoners share the same street.

Those in support of Kelly didn't want to go on camera.

Chtavia Felton is not supporting him.

"How could you get in front of a body, a large body of people and try to preach them the word, and you doing wrong yourself," said Chtavia Felton, a church visitor.

Suggs, who went to church nearly every Sunday, says she won't be there this week, or possibly ever again.

Kelly's attorney would not comment on the case, and a deacon at Little Rock Baptist would not return our call.

Kelly's attorney says the church still wants him to continue to work there as pastor.