Preacher’s conviction to stand, justices rule

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/May 13, 2005
By Jake Bleed

The state Supreme Court said Thursday that the conviction of a Randolph County minister on 10 counts of rape should stand, ruling that the trial court was right to allow the testimony of the minister’s daughter against him.

Donald Flanery, a minister at the Family of Christ Church in Pocahontas, was convicted of rape that occurred in 2001 and 2002, according to the opinion. The victim was 11 and 12 years old at the time.

He appealed, arguing that his daughter should not have been allowed to testify that he touched her sexually 10 years before his trial. Flanery argued that the event with his daughter was not similar to the crimes of which he was accused, and that the incident occurred too long ago to apply. He also argued that her testimony would overly prejudice the jury against him.

The court rejected those arguments, citing a "pedophile exception" that allows evidence of similar acts to be introduced at trial because "such evidence helps prove the depraved sexual instinct of the accused," according to the opinion.

According to the opinion, Flanery was convicted of having sex with a girl who was a member of his church.

The girl said Flanery would apologize after sex, and that he told her "God had given her to him as a second wife," according to the opinion.

In 2001, the girl accused another member of the church of having sex with her. In 2003, she recanted, and instead accused Flanery.

At trial, prosecutors called Flanery’s daughter to testify. She said Flanery had asked her to lay on his stomach, where he touched her buttocks and vaginal area. The daughter said she fought back. She said Flanery stopped touching her and told her not to tell her mother, according to the opinion.

Flanery was sentenced to 35 years in prison. At the Supreme Court, the case is CR05-26, Donald Lee Flanery v. State of Arkansas.

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