Minister’s case bound over for Superior Court
By Lance Martin
HALIFAX – Proceedings in the case of William Meinsen, a 48-year-old Roanoke Rapids minister charged with indecent liberties with a child, now heads to Halifax County Superior Court after District Court Judge Teresa Robinson Freeman found probable cause here Friday to move the matter up.
The victim in the case, a girl who was under the age of 16 when the alleged offenses occurred, wept openly as Freeman disclosed her findings. She embraced her father, who she sat with in a small auxiliary courtroom in Halifax.
Freeman’s ruling came after a closed probable cause hearing in district court Wednesday, the matter closed because of the sensitive nature of the case and the victim was under age at the time of the alleged offense.
Neither Halifax County Assistant District Attorney Norlan Graves nor Meinsen’s attorney, Geoffrey Davis, had objections to Freeman’s decision being made in open court.
The judge said after careful review of the closed testimony given in the case there is probable cause to believe the offense of indecent liberties with a child occurred, and enough evidence to bound the matter over to superior court.
“I’m just glad the judge saw the evidence in the case,” the girl’s father said afterward. “It’s been very emotional. My daughter has suffered. It’s been a struggle every day.”
He said the family has not been back to Meinsen’s church, New Life Church of Christ on East Tenth Street, since the minister was charged in June.
He said the family will now wait to hear when the matter goes to superior court.
Documents filed in the case show Lieutenant Joseph Sealey of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office reportedly found evidence the minister, “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did take and attempt to take immoral, improper and indecent liberties” with the victim in the case.
Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp confirmed that the charge filed against Meinsen does not reflect any alleged activity at the church. Tripp added that the charges filed against Meinsen came on the heels of an investigation that began around the end of February. The alleged offense took place on January 29.
Documents filed in the Halifax County Clerk of Court’s Office also suggest a possible obstruction of justice in the case.
According to two search warrants applied for by Sealey, the probable cause for obstruction of justice is located in text message contact sent from and received through the victim’s phone as well as her stepmother’s phone.
The search warrant was applied for on March 10 after the sheriff’s office received a complaint from the parents of the victim alleging sexual contact between her and Meinsen, who in the search warrant application was described as her preacher as well as high school teacher.
The parents, according to the search warrant application, noted that Meinsen and the victim spoke frequently through text messaging.
The victim, according to the warrant, advised her parents that Meinsen was texting her, wanting to know why law enforcement was at her residence. The stepmother had also been receiving text messages from the minister in which “he was advising her what to say regarding the incident if the mother should ask or make a scene.”
Wrote Sealey in the search warrant application, “He also stated in text messages that he would be deleting all text message conversations. The affiant has probable cause to believe that the incident was discussed between the defendant as well as her stepmother.”
For those reasons, Sealey requested that all text messages be seized from U.S. Cellular from the victim’s phone as well as her stepmother’s from the present to as far back as possible.
Tripp confirmed that based on the search warrant, “we obtained evidence supporting the allegations.”
(Lance Martin is Editor and Publisher of www.rrspin.com. This story was reprinted with his permission.)