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The small town of Ladson, South Carolina was shocked late last month when local pastor Dale Richardson of Free Will Baptist Church was arrested and charged with kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual assault.
Accused of kidnapping four women and raping three of them, Richardson, who is well-liked by church members and the community, was back in court last week, where prosecutors added to the charges and requested that he be denied bond and held until trial.
Prosecutors allege that Richardson, a recent graduate of Liberty University who found his calling as a preacher in 2006, came into contact with the victims when he offered each one a ride as they walked on the side of the road, reports the Associated Press.
Once in the car, it's alleged that he held the women at gunpoint, bound and then raped him.
Two of the women were allegedly rape in a trailer home behind the church, while the Post and Courier reports that another was freed prior to being assaulted.
He is said to have left his victims in the woods, threatening them with harm should they report his actions.
South Carolina punishes both kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual assault with up to 30 years in jail, meaning that the pastor faces a maximum sentence of 210 years.
If Dale Richardson is convicted, his use of a firearm and the premeditation and planning that went into his crimes are likely to factor heavily into his sentence, overriding his lack of priors and any statements that portray him in a beneficial light.
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