Pastor accused of raping women behind his church
Dale Richardson has spent the last year as pastor of Freedom Free Will Baptist Church, but is looking at spending the next several behind bars. After charges were filed last month against the preacher for a kidnap and assault, other women have stepped up and charged him for incidents dating back to 2010.
Richardson was initially charged last month after allegations surfaced from a 20-year-old woman that the pastor kidnapped her shortly after noon on a Saturday. The victim claims that Richardson took her to a mobile home and raped her, not before placing a pillowcase over her head, bringing her to the woods at gunpoint and leaving her, however.
Following last month’s incident, officials announced that more charges could follow in the investigation against Richardson. Now he is charged with kidnapping and raping three women at gunpoint — two of them in the trailer behind his church, one in the woods — and abducting a fourth that he has not been accused of raping.
While in bond court following the filing of the initial charges, Richardson said he looked forward to putting up a strong defense. He told Charleston County Magistrate Linda Lombard "If you'll notice, my record is spotless and I look forward to defending myself in this case," before bail was set at $525,000.
Richardson added in court, “I have people standing behind me who will vouch for me."
While some of his followers have maintained his innocence, three other women have spoken up since July. In court last week to be formally charged for the latest claims, a judge denied him bond, citing him as a danger to society.
The Rev. Todd Smith, executive director of the South Carolina Free Will Baptist State Association, issued a statement saying “our prayers are with all involved,” and has suspended Richardson’s preaching credentials, pending the outcome of the investigation. Smith says that the revoking is because "the misconduct alleged against him is forbidden by God."
Around 50 people are members of the Freedom Free Will Baptist Church parish, where Richardson has been pastor for the last year. The website for the church reveals that he has been with the church in various capacities since 2005 and previously served as a Sunday School teacher for adults, as well as Sunday School director and trustee of the parish. His bio also writes that he “has dedicated his life to preaching and living the Holy life as handed down in Scripture.”