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Wiregrass Family Talks About Year-Old Molestation

A local family is seeking legal action against the 14-year-old boy who attempted to rape their 12-year-old mentally challenged daughter.

This is the type of situation no parent wants to face, but now, the parents of the victim say their church is turning away from them and they are fighting for justice. They want the United Methodist Church to be held accountable for not taking action sooner.

“My daughter was sexually assaulted by the pastor's son in his home and I walked in on it," said Ronna Therrell, mother of the victim.

It reportedly happened more than a year ago on the first day the Therrell's moved into town. They had high expectations of living their dream out at the First United Methodist Church in Opp, but after the sexual assault occurred, the family quickly found themselves outsiders in their own congregation.

The victim’s father, Paul Therrell said, "From the beginning of the incident we have been alienated and it's been a struggle to remain appropriate and try to keep it within the ministry."

News 4 talked with the district attorney of Andalusia and he says because this is a juvenile case, he can neither confirm nor deny the charges.

While the city legally can't respond, the United Methodist Church did confirm the that they are aware of the incident and issued this statement, "The United Methodist Church understands that as of right now, no charges have been brought against the pastor. Our main concern right now is both families."

The Therrell's say they asked the United Methodist District to get involved a year ago to ensure that the boy received intensive counseling. However, since that time, the Therrell's say the pastor has downplayed the incident and felt if they did not go to the police, another child might be a victim.

The Therrell’s both work for the United Methodist Church and say they are concerned that because of the incident, their contract will not be renewed in six weeks when it runs out.

News 4 understands the 14-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree attempted rape. That means he could face up to a year in a juvenile detention facility and labeled as a sexual predator as an adult.


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