Aaron’s hearing delayed

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, November 5, 2009

The preliminary hearing set Friday for the former pastor accused of sexually molesting and torturing young boys while on camping trips has been continued.

Ralph Lee Aaron, the 54-year-old former pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship, was charged last week with 152 counts of sex-related crimes including the production and possession of child pornography, sexual abuse and torture and sodomy. He is currently in the county jail under a $24.5 million bond.

The settlement phase of Aaron’s case began last week with a meeting between not only him and his court appointed attorney, Al Smith of Elba, but also District Attorney Greg Gambril and the families of Aaron’s alleged victims, where Gambril discussed with the victims’ families about how to proceed with the case.

Gambril said Thursday that Aaron’s preliminary hearing will now be held on “an undetermined date next week” and cited conflicting schedules between himself and defense attorney Al Smith of Elba as the reason for the continuance.

The terms of the settlement proposed to Aaron by the district attorney’s office are unknown; however, Gambril has previously stated the state will seek a maximum of life imprisonment.

Under Alabama law, all convictions of a “Class A” felony carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Of the 152 total charges Aaron faces, 44 are “Class A” felonies.