It never would have happened if the Globe hadn't let John Hacker slip through its fingers.
During his last months at the Globe, Hacker, who has always had a reputation as the hardest working reporter in the area, had made deep in-roads in his coverage of McDonald County. If he had still been at the Globe, undoubtedly the Globe would have been all over the filing of sex charges against Rev. Raymond Lambert, his wife and her brothers (Lambert's stepbrothers) in connection with the cult-like Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church.
The story was first broken in The Turner Report, but the first in-depth coverage was offered by John Ford of the Neosho Daily News. As far as I can tell, the Globe has still had not had any coverage of the filing of charges. (Lambert and the others have still not been arrested. According to the Daily's coverage, they are scheduled to turn themselves in Monday.)
Let's take a look at this case:
-We have charges of child molestation filed against four top officials in an area church.
-Some of these charges date back to the 1970s, meaning that if if they turn out to be true, this is something that has been going on for a long time.
-We have McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Geeding allowing accused child molesters to decide when they are going to turn themselves in. Is this the regular practice in McDonald County?
-We have numerous references to a "compound" where the Lamberts and Eplings lived and stories have circulated for years about the cult-like influence of the late Cecil Epling, the father of three of those charged, Paul Epling, Tom Epling and Patricia Lambert, and the stepfather of Rev. Raymond Lambert.
This is the kind of a story that the biggest newspaper in this area should have been all over, but it has been strangely silent. Fortunately, I have no doubt McDonald County residents will be well served by John Ford's continuing coverage in the Neosho Daily News.