By Bob Allen
The trial of a Missouri Baptist pastor charged with sexual child abuse scheduled earlier this month has been postponed.
Moniteau County Circuit Judge Kenneth Hayden granted a continuance Dec. 2 in the case against Travis Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stover, Mo., charged with second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy, Call C felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison.
The new trial date is June 2, with a pre-trial conference scheduled May 16.
Smith, 43, was arrested Oct. 1, 2012, by members of Missouri State Highway Patrol following what police termed a lengthy investigation by the agency’s Division of Drug and Crime Control.
The case received widespread media attention when Smith’s church decided to keep him as pastor, despite the arrest, instead of firing him or putting him on administrative leave.
A deacon at the church told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the pastor “was rough around the edges” when he was younger, but “has a good heart” and is good for the church.
“These are old charges, and if they’re true, why weren’t they brought up when they occurred?” Deacon Phil Marriott told the newspaper. “We’ll wait for the court system to address them and let justice take its course.”
In 2011, Smith was acquitted of child molestation on previous charges in another county.