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Thursday, March 29, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor ordered to trial for rape

FRESNO, Calif.- A pastor was ordered to trial on child molestation and rape charges after two girls testified he had abused them for years, allegedly raping one after she became pregnant.

A Fresno County Superior Court Judge ruled Tuesday that there was enough evidence to try Pastor Charles Dickerson, 36, on several counts of rape and lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.

Dickerson, pastor of Pearly Grove Baptist Church in Fresno, was arrested last year. He has been a community leader who has spoken out against street violence and encouraged people to support black-owned businesses.

Monday, the pastor's wife, Jeneene Dickerson, testified that Charles Dickerson had become physically abusive but that she never reported it to police.

The girls, whose relationship to Charles Dickerson was not revealed, were coached by his estranged wife, who has a "vendetta," said defense lawyer Glenn LoStracco.