Police: Sixth person arrested in Missouri child sex abuse case

CNN/November 13, 2009

Independence, Missouri - A sixth person was arrested Thursday on suspicion of child sexual abuse in an investigation that led to the arrest of five members of a Missouri family, and authorities found additional victims in the case, police said.

Larry Kidd, 55, of Kansas City, Missouri, is an "associate" of the Mohler family of Lafayette County, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. Five members of the family were arrested earlier in the week after six alleged victims, who are relatives of the five initial suspects, came forward.

As a result of a news conference held Wednesday, the highway patrol said, "further information has been developed that has resulted in the identification of additional victims in the case."

Kidd faces charges of rape of a child of less than 14 years old, police said. He was arrested without incident in Jackson County, Missouri, and was being transported to the Lafayette County Jail on Thursday night.

Arrested Tuesday were Burrell Edward Mohler Sr., 77, and his sons Burrell Edward Mohler Jr., 53; David A. Mohler, 52; Jared Leroy Mohler, 48; and Roland Neil Mohler, 47. All five are being held in the Lafayette County Jail with bails ranging from $30,000 to $75,000.

The employer of one of the suspects said, "Everybody is still in shock ... disbelief," as news of the arrests spread through communities where several of the suspects live in western Missouri.

"He was a good medic," Corbin Allred said of Roland Mohler, who has been employed at the Saline County Ambulance District No. 3 since 2006. Mohler has been suspended, Allred said, and further action will be taken at the next board meeting.

"Can't believe he's been here this whole time," Allred said.

The six alleged victims - all now adults - came to law enforcement authorities with stories of sexual performances, mock weddings, rape with various objects and a forced abortion during their childhoods, according to court documents obtained by CNN affiliate KSHB in Kansas City. CNN does not identify alleged sexual assault victims.

Investigators on Wednesday were searching the property that once belonged to one of the brothers for "a body or bodies," Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh said. The search continued Thursday and will resume Friday, police said.

Alumbaugh said Wednesday he was seeking more witnesses and believed there are more victims.

"I believe that there is, and I believe every investigator here, after seeing the evidence, believes there's more victims," Alumbaugh said. "Pedophiles don't stop at one."

The alleged abuse took place from the mid-1980s until 1995 and possibly beyond, the sheriff said. The court documents provide graphic details of the alleged abuse, provided by one of the alleged victims. All of the charges stem from those documents, Alumbaugh said, adding that he expected additional charges based on other victim statements.

Burrell Mohler Sr., David Mohler and Jared Mohler are lay ministers in the Community of Christ, the Independence, Missouri-based organization said in a statement.

"Leaders and members of the Community of Christ in the greater Kansas City area are prayerfully upholding those families that are touched by the recent arrests of five members of the Mohler family," the statement said.

Lay ministers are volunteers who do not receive compensation, and none of the three served in leadership roles or worked with children, the organization said.

"We have a very strict code of ethics when it comes to the safety of our youth," said the organization's spokeswoman, Linda Booth.

Burrell Mohler Sr. did go through the group's registered youth worker program, but "his youth worker registration has been terminated and we understand he had no contact with children or youth in church programs," the statement said.

Some lay ministers might help take care of the church, Booth said, while others might speak at services.

"Immediately, I went to the rolls and had their priesthoods suspended because that's what we do in the Community of Christ when there's any word of something like this. We suspend their priesthoods," Booth said, referring to a church designation for male members.

"If this goes to trial and they are convicted, then they will be what we call silenced, and they can no longer represent the church in any way," Booth said.

The Community of Christ is an offshoot of the modern-day Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It split off from the Mormon church in the 1800s, and in 2000 changed its name to Community of Christ from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I personally feel grief for these families, all the families that are involved in this," Booth said. "I feel concern for the congregations." She said she is also "concerned about the greater church, the Community of Christ who represents nations and communities based in love and peace and joy."

Roland Mohler was arrested at work on Tuesday, Allred said. "The highway patrol pulled him aside and put cuffs on him. We were really trying to find out what was going on. They wouldn't tell us." He said he found out by watching the news.

"You eat, you sleep, you do everything with people for 48 hours," said Mohler's partner, Sharon Roscher. "Oh my gosh, it's just a shock."

When Mohler was arrested, "He was outside talking to troopers and the next thing we know, he's being cuffed and taken away," Roscher said. "And it was utter chaos. But we run off adrenaline and handle emergencies pretty well. But no, we were totally shocked."

"He was likable," she said of Mohler. "He was a dependable medic, friendly, and he'd show up when he was supposed to work, did his on-calls. He did his duty."

Alumbaugh said investigators were also searching several properties for glass jars that some of the victims may have buried containing notes detailing the alleged abuse. Investigators are following other leads as well, the sheriff said.

"There has been indications there are a body or bodies in various locations," Alumbaugh said.

Investigators have been working the case since August, he said, when the first of Mohler Jr.'s now-grown children came forward.

CNN's Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.

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