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Monday, February 25, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor convicted of molesting foster child

A Decatur pastor faces at least 25 years in prison after being convicted of aggravated sexual battery and child molestation of his 15-year-old foster child, authorities said.

DeKalb County prosecutors contend Bishop Frederick Kelley, who headed Greater New Macedonia Church of God in Christ, had a history of child molestation and rape involving family members going back 35 years.

Kelley has vehemently proclaimed his innocence.

He was in the DeKalb jail Sunday awaiting a sentencing date after a jury found him guilty Friday of two counts of sexual battery and four counts of child molestation.

The minimum sentence is 25 years. The jury acquitted him of rape.

Kelley was arrested in January 2007 on charges of rape and molestation involving a 15-year-old foster girl in his house.

The pastor proclaimed his innocence in a TV news broadcast.

The newscast prompted three of his relatives to tell police that he molested or raped them years before, said Peter Boehm, the DeKalb prosecutor who handled the case.

"They had thought he stopped — or 'hoped,' I guess, is the better way to say it," Boehm said.

Attempts to reach the Kelley family for comment were unsuccessful Sunday.

Boehm introduced four other child molestation cases, involving Kelley's family members and another foster child, during the eight-day trial in Superior Court that ended Friday.

The first case involved a family member who was 12 years old when the incident allegedly occurred in 1972, Boehm said.

The woman testified at the trial that she awoke one night and found Kelley on top of her. She shoved him off, and Kelley "pretended to be sleepwalking," Boehm said.

Another family member testified that the pastor impregnated her in 1979, when she was 15.

DeKalb prosecutor Boehm alleges that in 1993, Kelley molested the daughter of the first victim.

Kelley eventually targeted foster children he and his wife supported, Boehm said.

Besides the 15-year-old who filed the charges for which Kelley was prosecuted, another foster daughter, age 14, testified the defendant inappropriately touched her when he came into her bedroom one night in 2006 but claimed to be "praying over her."

Kelley's wife testified that her husband was guilty only of an adulterous affair with the girl who became pregnant in 1979.

The Kelleys raised the baby he fathered as their own child, Boehm said.

That affair was the only sexual misconduct Kelley and his wife acknowledged, Boehm said.

"They denied all the others," he said.