A Christian minister living in Washington state has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree rape of a child, and members of his church are standing by him.
Malcolm Fraser, 39, has been accused of raping a 10-year-old girl seven years ago while he and his wife were living in the girl's home, the Courier-Herald reported. Court documents allege that Fraser had repeated sexual contact with the girl between 2005 and 2006.
The minister has entered a plea of not guilty, and reportedly was expected to be in court Friday.
"I am completely innocent of the charges against me and grateful for everyone who has supported me," Fraser told The Press and Journal. "Being falsely accused of such a crime has imposed major changes in my life which is now focused on clearing my name."
Fraser serves as assistant pastor at Sound Doctrine Church and is on staff at the affiliated WinePress Publishing. Timothy Williams, Sound Doctrine's lead pastor and WinePress's Executive Publisher, says Fraser has his support.
"Malcolm Fraser is innocent because he simply did not do the crimes and never had an opportunity to commit the outrageous charges of which he is accused," he has said.
The Discerning Times website, founded and led by Williams, insists that supporters of Sound Doctrine Church have said that the assistant pastor is "undeniably innocent," and that evidence exists spanning back to 2005 showing that individuals with an agenda against the church have been fabricating the rape story and plotting false charges.
The 17-year-old alleged victim's identity has not been revealed, and the Enumclaw Police Department reportedly was made aware of her allegation by Child Protection Services.
Sound Doctrine Church, a small, non-denominational church, was characterized as a cult by former members in a 2009 homeschooling case. The ministry's founder, Williams, sparked controversy in 1999 with the publication of his book, Hating for Jesus, based on Luke 14:26, which reads: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple."
The book, later revised and reprinted as The Essential Piece: Living Out Luke 14:26 in Everyday Life, was criticized for reportedly including such statements as: "Deny your health so that you might waste away for the gospel"; "deny your marriage so that you might live only for Him"; and "deny women in leadership so that you might be of God."