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Church Backs Ex-Minister Facing Charges

St. Louis Post Dispatch/September 26, 1992

By William C. Lhotka

A former minister of a church in southwest St. Louis County has the backing of the congregation in the face of allegations that the former minister fondled two girls in 1987 and 1988, says the church's present minister.

The former minister is Thomas Jolly, 82. He had been pastor at Gospel Assembly Church, a non-denominational church at 13169 Tesson Ferry Road.

The current minister is the Rev. Eugene Snider, who said he had come out of retirement to help run the church.

In a telephone interview Friday, Snider said the church's 600 members ''support him [Jolly] real good. There is no dissension.''

Jolly surrendered to authorities Thursday, posted $7,500 and was released on bond. Court records list addresses for Jolly in Belleville and Caseyville.

Jolly is accused of touching through her clothing the breast of a girl, then 9, at the church between Sept. 1, 1987, and Dec. 31, 1987.

He also is charged with fondling a girl, then 13, in August 1988 at the church.

The former count is a felony; the latter a misdemeanor.

If convicted of the felony, Jolly could get up to five years in prison. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail.

St. Louis County police Sgt. Ted Zinselmeier said the police investigation began about three months ago when the girls reported the matters to their families and the families contacted police.

CORRECTION

The Rev. Eugene Snider, pastor of the Gospel Assembly Church in southwest St. Louis County, says church members do not support their former minister, Thomas Jolly, who has been charged with fondling two girls. A story Saturday said Snider said the congregation was backing Jolly.

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