Parishioners Back Pastor of First Baptist Church in Stover
STOVER - Members of First Baptist Church in Stover responded Wednesday to criminal charges filed against their pastor. Moniteau County Sheriff's Department deputies, along with the Missouri Highway Patrol, arrested Travis Ray Smith on Monday for second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy; the charges stem back to 2005.
Richard and Colleen Jones live only a block away from the Cherry Street church and they said the charges described aren't characteristic of the Smith they know.
"He's a hardworking man, he's a family man... and that wife of his works along with him," Colleen Jones said. "They're good people... and I cannot see Travis Smith doing anything like that."
The Jones' said that in the years they have known Smith, he's been a good pastor and friend to them and a wonderful person to children within the church. Colleen mentioned Smith helped build a children's garden behind the church with flowers and fresh vegetables.
Calvin Marriott, veteran and one of the senior church members, told KOMU 8 that he also supports Smith despite the charges.
"I'm not going to down somebody when I don't have a reason," Marriott said. "I'm a person that will stick with you as long as you prove to me what you say you are."
In 2010, Smith was charged with second-degree child molestation and second-degree statutory rape. Later that year, prosecutor's dropped the felony rape charge, and in 2011, Smith was acquitted on the second-degree child molestation charge.
Richard and Colleen Jones said church members will hold a fish fry this Saturday to support Smith.