Overcoming the Overcomer Ministry: Sexual assault victims furious that Lowcountry pastor never had to face trial before his death

NBC News 2, South Carolina/April 7, 2021

By Katie Turner

Walterboro, South Carolina -- Ralph Gordon “RG” Stair, a Walterboro pastor convicted of sexual assault, passed away over the weekend.

At the time of his death, Stair had been released on $750,000 bond and was in his home in Canadys. He was in his 80’s and surrounded by family.

Stair’s death came before his scheduled court date. His victims are now speaking out since they didn’t have a chance to do so at his trial.

Staci Yates was sexually abused by Stair for 7 years. She says many of the victims feel as if they have been silenced because of his passing.

“We never got the chance to face our perpetrator. And we feel the courts of South Carolina owe us an apology for the mismanagement of our case,” she says.

Yates now describes Stair’s religious leadership of a group called ‘The Overcomer Ministry’ as a cult. She says that she was in a vulnerable place in her life when she stumbled upon the group.

“I was sex-trafficked at 17, and then I jumped into the ministry because I wanted to give my life to God, and then I jumped into a cult unknowingly and couldn’t leave for 7 years,” says Stair.

The dark and twisted stories of The Overcomer Ministry’s leader first came to light in 2002 when 2 young ladies accused him of sexual assault. Stair was arrested, charged and served 77 days behind bars.

The allegations went quiet for years until 2017 when more victims, including Yates, brought their stories to police.

“It took decades for me to tell my story,” says Yates.

He was later arrested in December of 2017 by Colleton County deputies, SLED and FBI agents after they executed eight arrest warrants for the Overcomer Ministry property in Walterboro amid new sexual assault allegations.

The pastor was ultimately released on bond and free to live his life quietly as he awaited trial. It was around this time when filmmaker Joseph Lewis met Stair.

“He’s almost like a megalomaniac — it’s a complete power game,” says Lewis.

Lewis, Tim Smith and Conor Heisler have been working on this piece for Lost City Films since 2018. They have been filming and interviewing Stair and his followers to get an authentic view of the Overcomer Ministry.

“Throughout this whole process, you’re with them day-to-day, and you start slowly understanding their perspective of why they chose to go there in the first place. A lot of them were just looking at Ralph as this leader who was going to guide them,” says Lewis.

Lewis says they are getting closer to finishing the film and plan to release a trailer sometime this week.

As for Yates, she has made it her life mission to help those at risk and survivors of sexual abuse and human trafficking in Alaska. Still, she hopes to find justice for herself and the victims of Stair and the Overcomer Ministry.

“You know, I just want the last say for the victims and say ‘you know what? we are the true overcomers. we overcame,” she says.

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