The ritual sex practices of the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church were explored in detail during the preliminary hearing of Rev. Raymond Lambert Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court.
Jeff Lehr's article in today's Joplin Globe offers a chilling sample of the testimony given during the hearing:
When asked by Assistant Prosecutor Dan Bagley what happened next, she broke down emotionally on the witness stand and answered tearfully: "Raymond Lambert asked me to lay on the bed, where he climbed on top of me."
She said that while he did not penetrate her sexually, he fondled her breasts and touched her genitals. Afterward, he told her that he was "pleased" and "therefore God was pleased" with what she had done, she testified.
The article further details testimony that indicated Lambert had sex with his stepbrother Tom Epling's wife Laura in front of one of the victims:
She said that on yet another occasion at Laura Epling's home, Lambert had been engaged sexually with Laura Epling, and that he asked the girl to perform an oral sex act on him. She testified that Laura Epling encouraged her to do as he had asked.
As The Turner Report was the first to note, Laura Epling was charged Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court with felony statutory sodomy, the fifth church member, all of whom are also members of the Lambert/Epling family, to be charged. Her bond was set at $10,000.
Preliminary hearings for Laura Epling's husband Tom, her brother-in-law Paul Epling, and sister-in-law Patty Lambert, Lambert's wife, have been delayed. Paul Epling, Tom Epling, and Patty Lambert were all the children of church founder Cecil Epling, who died in an automobile accident in the early 1980s. Epling was also Raymond Lambert's stepfather.
The kicker to Lehr's story came when one of the alleged victims was asked about the type of religion offered at the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church:
One of two women who claim that the Rev. Raymond Lambert sexually abused them as teenagers drew derisive laughter from family members and friends in a courtroom Monday when she answered an attorney's question as to what kind of religion Lambert's church followed.
"You know what?" the woman answered. "I don't know."