Colleton County, South Carolina -- Multiple victims came forward to tell Colleton County deputies that their preacher, Ralph G. Stair, had sexually assaulted them over the past two decades, according to 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone.
Stair, 84, was arrested Monday on several sex-crime charges ranging from different degrees of criminal sexual conduct to attempting to commit criminal sexual conduct. He also faces kidnapping and burglary charges.
Stair is the voice that led Overcomer Ministry, an expansive church commune in the Candays community near Walterboro.
The evangelist started the widely popular radio-based ministry more than two decades ago, and records indicate the sexual assault allegations against him date back that far as well.
In 2002, Stair was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct second degree.
In 2004, he faced two additional charges of the same type.
Those charges were all dismissed.
Stone couldn’t comment on why the charges were dismissed because he wasn’t in office at the time, and Stair’s criminal history is part of the ongoing case against the defendant.
With Stair’s arrest on Monday came the revelation that allegations of sexual abuse of girls in the commune dated back years before his 2002 arrest.
A juvenile victim said Stair had sexually assaulted her in his office in the winter of 1992, according to an affidavit signed on Monday.
Another affidavit reveals Stair forced another girl to have sex with him at least 35 times from 1998 to 1999.
WCIV spoke with a teen on Monday who said Stair had sexually assaulted her starting just before she turned 16.
”This was in his radio room,” she said. “He calls it his radio room. That is where he was most of the time, and that is where I was molested at.”
At least three of the arrest warrants served on Monday also state Stair sexually assaulted other victims inside his radio room.
Another victim told deputies that Stair fondled her in front of the congregation during a sermon and told the members he was “the only person who could touch her.”
The remaining warrants reveal far more graphic information.
WCIV found newspaper articles in archives dating back to the late 1980s when the coroner warned pregnant women to seek medical care. The warning came after an infant died because it was born 20 days after its due date.
Property records reveal the church site is sprawling, with dozens of mobile homes and shared bathhouses.
A search of the ministry’s 501(c)(3) name (Faith Fellowship Cathedral, Incorporated), however, came back with no information other than its designation as a men’s service organization.
As for the teen who spoke with WCIV, she hopes Stair’s arrest will provide some comfort.
“I want to see that he goes to jail and he doesn't get out,” she said. “He can serve his time for what he has done to other people and young girls.”
Stair was moved from the Colleton County Detention Center on Tuesday to the Charleston County Detention Center due to safety concerns and his age.
Stone also encouraged anyone else with information about the case to contact his office, since South Carolina does not have a statute of limitations on these types of crimes.