BRUNSWICK, Ga. - After hearing from friends of Pastor Ken Adkins, as well as listening to recordings of phone calls of Adkins talking about the child molestation charges against him, a Glynn County judge ruled Wednesday to deny bond on charges of aggravated child molestation.
Adkins, 56, pastor of the Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, has been in the Glynn County Jail since Aug. 26, when he surrendered on charges resulting from allegations he molested a teenage boy in 2010.
The young man told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that Adkins molested him when he was a member of Adkins' church as a boy under the age of 16.
Superior Court Judge E.M. Wilkes issued the ruling a day after hearing from four pastors who know Adkins and said he poses no risk to the community and hearing portions of the audio recordings at a hearing Tuesday.
Prosecutors recounted Adkins' previous criminal history, including four convictions on charges for theft, grand theft and passing bad checks, adding that Adkins presents a significant risk to intimidate witnesses. The state requested that Adkins be denied bond, or at least receive a bond of $1 million or more.
"Is true that our recently revised evidence code recognizes the passage of time between convictions and the date of new alleged incident should be taken into account, and the probative value of old convictions can be discounted in some circumstances. But there is no equivalent distinction between old convictions and recent ones in the recidivism statute," Wilkes wrote in the order explaining why bond was denied.
Adkins' attorney, Kevin Gough, said his client loves the spotlight and called the idea that he would go hide out if released "preposterous." Adkins is known throughout southeast Georgia and greater Jacksonville for public comments about homosexuals and speaking out at public meetings. Gough asked for a bond of between $10,000 and $50,000.
"Persons who believe they are being persecuted for political reasons are arguably more likely to carry out a threat to flee the jurisdiction than other persons facing trial," Wilkes wrote in the order.
Wilkes issued the ruling after reviewing his notes from Wednesday's bond hearing.
State outlines charges against Adkins
In court earlier this month, prosecutors showed two pictures of Adkins' private parts that were allegedly emailed from his phone to the boy. Adkins' lawyer said that since the defendant had multiple businesses, he could have had more than one phone, and others could have had access to them. He also said the timing doesn't add up, as the pictures were sent in November 2014 to prove something that happened in 2010.
Adkins shook his head as GBI Agent James Feller testified that the alleged victim, who they are calling AJ, said his relationship with Adkins started when he was 15. The boy told authorities that he met Adkins through a mutual friend. After he joined Adkins' church and entered a mentoring program, That's when a sexual relationship with Adkins began, he told the GBI.
Feller said the boy told authorities that Adkins asked if he was using protection when he had sex with his girlfriend, then asked if he could watch them to make sure they were doing it properly.
The agent said AJ described many sexual encounters, including ones between himself and Adkins. The agent said that when interviewed, Adkins maintained his innocence and said there was never any type of sexual relationship between himself and AJ.
On cross-examination, Adkins' attorney asked Feller why he had no recordings or written transcripts of any of the interviews with AJ or the witnesses. Gough said he is skeptical because these allegations are coming six years after the relationship apparently happened.
Gough said AJ loaned Adkins money several years ago, and earlier this year AJ made threats when asking for his money back. He also says that AJ recently asked Adkins for his blessing on his gay marriage, which he knew Adkins and his church wouldn't do.
After the hearing, Gough said the prosecutors don't have a case.
"The prosecution is making a mockery of our criminal justice system," Gough said. "Mr. Adkins has been accused by a very troubled young man who clearly has an ax to grind."
Gough is asking for a speedy trial.
In Georgia, aggravated child abuse is considered a capital crime. While the death penalty is not considered likely, Adkins could face up to life in prison if convicted.
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