By Vicki Brown
Windermere Baptist Conference Center in Missouri will choose a new executive following the arrest of Jerald “Jerry” Hill on charges of soliciting sex with an animal, its board chair said Aug. 7.
According to several news reports, Hill, 56, was arrested Aug. 5 by an undercover investigator with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force. Tipped that an advertisement had been posted on Craigslist, the officer offered a dog and arranged a meeting in a Columbia, Mo., park.
Hill, Windermere’s president and chief executive officer, was released from the Boone County Jail after posting a $1,000 bond.
Windermere board members discussed the arrest by telephone on Aug. 6, chairman Arthur Mallory said. “The board is very supportive of [Hill] and grateful for his work at Windermere,” he said.
Mallory added the board sees the action as “a personal issue with Jerry” and that trustees are concerned about both Hill and the conference center.
“We are concerned for the well-being of Jerry … and we are also concerned with the well-being of Windermere,” Mallory said. “Windermere will continue to function in a good way…. It is a significant piece of God’s kingdom’s work.”
The board will meet next week on the center’s campus on the Lake of the Ozarks. “We will be in the process of looking for a new president and CEO,” Mallory said.
Missouri statutes are unclear about possible penalties if Hill is convicted for solicitation. Conviction for sex with an animal is classified as a class A misdemeanor for a first offense and as a class D felony for subsequent convictions. The law does not outline monetary or jail-time penalties, but does allow a judge to order psychological evaluation and counseling.
In May, Windermere won a lawsuit brought against it by the Missouri Baptist Convention after the conference center amended its governing document in 2002 to no longer grant the convention the privilege of nominating and electing trustees, moving to a self-perpetuating board.