Former pastor charged with child molesting

James Smith

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  A former pastor from West Virginia appeared in a LaGrange County courtroom Thursday afternoon to face a felony charge of child molestation.

Police arrested James R. Smith, 24, in West Virginia on August 11, according to our partners at KPC Media. He was extradited to LaGrange County and has been held in the LaGrange County Jail.

Detectives started investigating after a young boy said Smith assaulted him in the bathroom of a home while the two were visiting family in LaGrange County.

West Virginia officials charged Smith, a former pastor, with a similar offense last year. He was charged with first-degree sexual abuse after a young boy there said Smith assaulted him numerous times over the course of five years.

Smith was free on $150,000 bond at the time of his arrest by LaGrange County authorities.

In court Thursday, the judge entered a not guilty plea for Smith, who said his family plans to hire a private attorney. His bond was set at $100,000.

If convicted, he could get between 20 and 50 years in prison.

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