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Saturday, December 29, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor indicted on sex charges


A Keller miniature train enthusiast and Church of Christ pastor accused of sexually abusing young children during parties at his home was indicted this week on 12 charges, authorities said.

Clinton Don Simpson, 65, has been free on bail since Dec. 19, after a judge reduced his total bail from $1.65 million to $305,000, said Alana Minton, chief prosecutor for the Tarrant County district attorney's office crimes against children unit.

As a condition of his bail, Simpson must wear an ankle monitor and is confined to his home except for approved outings, Minton said. He is also restricted from being around children, Minton said.

The charges

Simpson faces nine charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child by threat and three charges of indecency with a child by fondling, according to court records.

Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. Indecency with a child is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Minton said the grand jury returned indictments on all the counts that prosecutors put before them.

Keller police had served Simpson with 17 arrest warrants in connection with 12 accusers.

Minton said that no further court dates have been set and that a trial is "a long way off."

Investigation background

Police began investigating Simpson on Oct. 7 after a 3-year-old girl said he touched her inappropriately during a birthday party at Mr. Don's Whistle Stop, a miniature train park he operated in his back yard.

Simpson, a semiretired minister and graphic artist, had built the trains, which ran on more than a quarter-mile of track through his back yard, including over a bridge and through a tunnel. The Whistle Stop was a favorite spot for children's parties for years.

At the beginning of the investigation, Simpson gave police a statement in which he admitted touching the girl and others, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Simpson's attorney has said the statement was coerced and given after an "emotional breakdown." Simpson has spent time under suicide watch, the attorney said.

When word of the investigation surfaced, Keller police received more than 200 calls from concerned parents.

Specialists spent weeks interviewing more than two dozen children.

The cases that went forward were based on the word of 11 girls and one boy, all between 3 and 9 years old, police have said.

Civil litigation

In November, the parents of two sisters who accused Simpson filed a civil suit against him in Tarrant County District Court.

The family belonged to Haslet Church of Christ, where Simpson was pastor, the suit states.

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