Charges Drop against Church Deacon
PINEVILLE (AP) - The last sexual-abuse charges against the deacon of a southwest Missouri church have been dropped. McDonald County prosecutors say they withdrew a rape charge against 54-year-old Paul Epling, a deacon of Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church. The charge was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. The alleged victim is a 35-year-old woman who claimed that Epling forced sexual intercourse on her when she was 6-years-old. Epling originally faced seven counts in alleged sexual acts with that girl and a second one between 1976 and 1983. Statute of limitations issues also caused prosecutors to drop those charges. Charges against Paul Epling's brother were also dropped under the statute of limitations. Four other church members still face child sexual abuse charges.