Authorities take seven more children into protective custody

Neosho Daily News, Missouri/August 24, 2006
By John Ford

Seven more children have been taken into protective custody at the Grandview Valley Baptist Church compound near Granby, a sheriff's department official said this afternoon.

Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, deputies with the Newton County Sheriff's Department and juvenile authorities took seven children, boys and girls, into protective custody. The children were located in several different trailers on the church grounds.

“We think we've gotten all of the children out now, all we know of anyway,” said Chris Jennings, chief deputy with the Newton County Sheriff's Department. “We believe all of the adults are still there.”

About 20 adults live at the compound, a conglomeration of trailers and a farmhouse, Jennings said.

Authorities are still seeking the church pastor, George Otis Johnston. Johnston faces eight felony sodomy counts, including seven unclassified charges of first degree deviate statutory sodomy with a person less than 12 years of age.

Johnston is the uncle of Raymond Lambert, pastor of Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church. The Granby church is an offshoot of the McDonald County congregation.

Lambert, his wife, Patty, and brothers-in-law Tom and Paul Epling face a variety of child sexual abuse charges, with allegations spanning nearly 30 years. The four McDonald County church officials were arraigned Monday, and entered not guilty pleas. A preliminary hearing was set for 1 p.m. Oct. 2 in Pineville.

More on this story will be in Friday's edition of the Neosho Daily News.

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