South Carolina police say they are now investigating video evidence that accuses controversial radio evangelist Pastor Ralph Gordon Stair, also known as Brother R.G. Stair and "the prophet," of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl and touching the breast of a 12-year-old girl in his church while the congregation watched.
Stair, 84, who leads the Overcomer Ministry community in Walterboro, pleaded guilty in 2004 of fondling two former female residents. Members of the community live, work and raise their children there. New members can only move there after they accept Stair as the "last day prophet," take a vow of poverty and donate all their property and financial assets to the ministry.
In one of the controversial videos currently being investigated, Stair cups and pats the breast of a 12-year-old girl as members of his church watch.
"How old are you hon?" Stairs asks the girl in the video. When she tells him that she is just 12, he replies, "Twelve, getting right close to it now" to indicate that she is close to the age where she could start having sex. That age, according to a man narrating the video who says he is a former member of the church, is 13.
As the video continues, Stair tells the girl to come up to the front of the church after previously hugging her.
"Come here, I'll show you, just look, look here," he says.
He then makes the 12-year-old face the congregation then places his hand between her breasts.
"Growing up," he says, before cupping and patting her right breast. He then sends her back to her seat and promises to stay on her case.
"I'm gonna touch those things till nobody else can touch 'em," he says in the video about her breasts.
In another video, a 16-year-old girl named Natosha who claims she is being forced to attend his church, says she was sexually assaulted by Stair while working at his compound for five months.
"I'm here to talk about an incident with a man named R.G. Stair. For five months, I went to work at the community. The first month, he would find me in the dining hall and touch my butt a lot. The second month, he would come in and he would start lifting up my shirt and touching me sexually. And the third and fourth month, he would just repeat himself," she explained.
It wasn't until the fifth month she said, that Stair took his predatory behavior to another level.
"The fifth month, he asked me to go to the radio room and I didn't want to go there. I did not," she said.
"He wanted to give me something so I went. When we got inside he gave me what he wanted to give me and then he started fondling my breasts. And he kept asking me 'Do you feel good, do you feel good.' And I didn't say anything because I didn't know what to do. I just didn't. And so I turned around to go out the door and he grabbed me from behind, wrapped his arms around me and he said, 'I wish I could keep you in here longer.' Then he started touching and rubbing my vagina inside my pants and after that, nothing really happened," she said.
In another instance, Stair offers a rub down to an overweight young girl.
"She get fat see," he says as the young girl walked up to him at the church. "You don't get like your sister do you?" he asked her as she replies "no."
"Why you big ol' fat thing. Big mouth, smart aleck," he responds. "Ahhh," he continues with a sigh until he embraces her and pats her down with his hands extending down the small of her back.
"She getting' fat. I know 'cause I feel it," he tells the congregation as he continues patting her down.
"You gaining weight?" he soon asks. She shook her head and said "no."
He laughs, cups her face with both hands and says: "We gon' make it. We gon' make it nice and slim. Slim and trim. I'll give you a rub down.
"You shouldn't mess with a woman's breast. Why not? I love them," he says while making sucking sounds and smacking his lips.
Lt. Tyger Benton of the Colleton County Sheriff's Office told The Christian Post Friday that they were sent the videos about two weeks ago and are currently investigating.
"We were shown the videos. The sheriff is aware of them. He looked at them, got in contact with our investigations department, had them start looking into it and at this point, SLED, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, has been notified which is gonna be working alongside us with that," he said. "Right now, it's just an investigation phase. No charges have been brought up, no warrants and so forth."
When asked if the police had contacted Stairs, he said: "I don't feel we need to contact him at this point as we're just looking into it. I'm sure that once ... if we find something that we need to go forward with then yes, he would probably be contacted at that point."
He further noted that he was not able to say if any of the girls or parents of any of the girls have come forward to make a charge against Stair.
Messages left for Stair at his ministry were not returned on Friday.
The former member narrating one of the videos, however, describes the church community as a "cult" that preys on young girls.
"Ralph Gordon Stairs' MO is to prep young girls' minds to accept what is eventually to become a sexual assault. He uses his influence, his position and spiritual power to control them. It's only within the last six months that he's beginning to do it publicly," the former member said.
"It concerns me that while listening to his recent speeches, he has really began pushing that at the age of 13, a girl becomes a woman and can start being with boys and has to watch out for boys. He obviously has some young targets for him to be changing his narrative," he continued.
"With the girls' safety in mind, I believe the context of individual events are irrelevant. He has a history of assaulting young women, and has already pled guilty to similar crimes in the past. He's a master manipulator and although he calls it a church, as a former member, let me assure you, it is a cult," the ex-member ended.