'Prophet Stair' is out of jail

The Press and Standard/August 6, 2002
By Libby Roerig

Just a few hours after bail was set Thursday morning, self-proclaimed prophet Ralph G. Stair posted the necessary $200,000 cash to get out.

Stair's $400,000 bond was set by 14th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner at approximately 10 a.m. Half of the bond was ordered to be paid in cash, with the other half being surety. Additionally, the defendant must pay for global position monitoring; have no contact - direct or otherwise - with victims or witnesses, turn in his passport and stay within the state.

Held on two counts of breach of trust and two counts of criminal sexual conduct second degree, Stair, 69, spent 77 days at the Colleton County Detention Center before he was released at 4 p.m.

According to Colleton County Sheriff Allan Beach, it is highly unusual for someone to come up with such a large amount of cash in such a short period of time, especially since the bond was not a prearranged agreement.

It actually took Beach's staff longer to get the global position device working and to show Stair how to operate it than for him to get the money.

A self-proclaimed prophet, Stair is the leader of a long-time religious community in Canadys known as the Overcomer Ministry. He also preaches for hours over AM and short-wave radio and via Internet to a worldwide audience of followers. Stair's religious community, for which former followers say they had to sell all their worldly possessions and sever ties with family members and friends before entering, is approximately 100-persons strong, according to reports.

At the bond hearing, one of Stair's attorneys Mathis Chaplin said his client could not access the ministry's money as it is controlled by a board of directors. Furthermore, Stair does not even receive a salary, only living quarters.

Later, Stair's other attorney Joenathan Chaplin estimated Stair's income to be equal to $30,000-$40,000 per year.

Stair also faces two other charges - unlawful burying of a body without notice or inquiry and failure to get authorization for the removal of a dead body. However, Stair has not yet been indicted on those charges.

Two other Overcomers, Dennis Mann Bush, 36, and David Maratto, 57, also face the same burial-related charges as Stair.

Over two months ago, Buckner denied Stair's bond for the criminal sexual conduct charges because of a pending investigation.

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