Crime & Courts

SC preacher accused of sexual assault, leading a cult can return to compound on bond

Ralph Gordon Stair, 84.
Ralph Gordon Stair, 84.

A South Carolina man who has been previously accused of sexual misconduct and of leading a cult in Colleton County was granted $750,000 bail Wednesday.

Ralph Gordon Stair, 84, was arrested in December on charges of assault with intent to commit first-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, kidnapping, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and three counts of criminal sexual conduct, according to a news release by the sheriff’s department.

Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner set Stair’s bond, and ruled if Stair is able to come up with 10 percent of it, $75,000, he will be able to return to his commune-style ministry, the place he is accused of committing sexual assault, abcnews4.com reported.

As for the conditions of his release, Stair may not have any contact with the alleged victims, witnesses or anyone younger than 18, according to postandcourier.com. He’s also not permitted to leave Overcomer, will be electronically monitored and must ensure law enforcement has “complete and unfettered access” to the property, the judge said.

His alleged victims no longer live at the site.

One of the victims addressed the court saying she did not want Stair to be allowed back to Overcomer, because Stair has control over the residents and they may not speak up, abcnews4.com reported.

Stair, the founder of Overcomer Ministry in Colleton County, has been the subject of a state and federal criminal investigation since October.

Live 5 News reported in October that Stair had been accused of preying on young girls and women. The station reported a video that surfaced apparently showed Stair cupping the breast of a 12-year-old girl during church service, adding “I’m gonna touch those things till nobody else can touch ’em.”

ABC 4 News described him as an “end times evangelist,” prophesying the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

A brochure from the ministry’s website states that about “70 saints” live at his farm near Walterboro, where they are “set apart from the world to be able to live a sanctified life.”

“We live in community homes of mobile trailers for each family or accommodations for brothers or sisters with common baths and common eating, all seeking to live together in love for God and each other,” the brochure states. “We go no where, no shopping or trips to see what have you. Your life will be here on the farm until Jesus comes.”

A SLED background check revealed Stair was arrested on several charges, including of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. But he was ultimately convicted of simple assault.

Staff writer Cynthia Roldán contributed to this report.

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