Prather - EL - accused by women - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Prather - EL - accused by women

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal Friday, 8 October 1897

To the Editor of the Journal:
In justice to the Baptist Church, to those who were responsible for the prosecution of E. L. Prather and to those who now so wrongfully and foolishly support him, it is requested that the following resume of the case be published:

A council, consisting of twenty one accredited ministers of the Baptist denomination and five laymen, members of the Brown’s Valley Church, after patiently hearing the evidence to support charges of immortality against E. L. Prather, the then pastor of the Brown’s Valley Baptist Church, together with the defense which he was able to make, deposed Prather from the ministry and advised the church to withdraw from him the hand of fellowship.

Both the number and character of the men forming the council made it one of unusual strength.
The following is given as a fair and honest summary of the evidence brought before the council, as furnished by those who were present:

A young lady who was at the time doing housework for Mrs. J. W. Hanna testified that in the month of June, 1896, while Prather was staying for a time in the home of Mr. Hanna, he, one night about 12 o’clock, sitting in a hall in the open door of her bedroom, just opposite her bed and with the evident intention of her seeing him, indecently exposed himself. That after continuing this for some minutes, he went out of the hall and appeared at a window near her bed and looked at her for five or ten minutes, then again appeared at the door and after standing for a while, retired. Mrs. Hanna testified that the girl told her about the indecency the next morning.

Court records, affidavits and letters were then introduced showing that in 1891, while he was a Presbyterian minister, Prather was arrested by a detective on a train of the New York Central Railroad, near the city of Utica, N. Y., in the act of indecently exposing himself to a lady. He was taken before the city court, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to the Albany penitentiary for ninety days, to which he was taken on the 16th day of April, 1891. It was then shown from court records, affidavits and letters that Prather was arrested, tried and convicted in Saline County, Kansas, in 1895, for indecent exposure of himself on trains of the U. P. R. R., at three different times, that he appealed the case to the district court, gave bond, his bondsmen got alarmed, delivered him to the sheriff and withdrew from the bond. His sister got another bondsman after about five weeks, he was released, left the state, never appeared at his trial and has not been in Kansas since.

It was also shown from court records that he instituted suits against three men for slander, in reporting the cases for which he was tried and convicted, and other immoral conduct, that he dismissed the first, was beaten on the second, and the third never came to trial. That he sought to renew the case which had had dismissed, but the court would not admit it to trial till the costs in the first case had been paid, which costs never were paid.

Depositions of five different women were put in evidence before the council, all of whom testified that Prather had indecently exposed himself to them. One of these lived in Utah, two in Oklahoma Territory, and two in Kansas. The testimonies of these two ladies were clear and decided.

Records of the Mackinaw Presbytery, of the C. P. Church of Illinois, were put in evidence. These records showed that after prolonged and thorough investigation he was deposed from the ministry of that church. The specific offenses of which he was proven to be guilty were indecent exposure of his person, courting a young lady at Bement, Ill., and pressing her for marriage engagement, when he had a wife and child; and untruthfulness. In the course of the trial before the Presbytery it was brought out that he was guilty of other immoralities.

At the request of the synod it was decided to restore him at the end of twelve months, provided he should have lived the right kind of life. At expiration of the time the Presbytery decided that he had so lived as to be unworthy. One of the things that he did during the year was to go before an officer of the law in Missouri and make oath that he was a minister of the C. P. Church in good standing.

The sworn records of the K. of P. lodge of Sanford, Ill., were put in evidence and showed that he was expelled for conduct unbecoming a Knight.

A Miss Hutson, of Dana, Ind., took the witness stand and testified that in March, 1897, while working in the home of Prather, he sought criminal relations with her. It was proven that she was of good character and her testimony was given in such a manner as to leave no just grounds for doubt that she told the truth.

A deposition from Miss Edith Husband, of Kansas, was introduced. She testified that while living in the home of Prather in Abilene, Kan., (she had been taken from an orphans’ home and was about sixteen years of age), he had repeatedly fondled her, and finally by force attempted to use her to gratify his passions.  It was then shown that Prather was decided to be unworthy and published by the board of managers of the Kansas Baptist Convention. (*more of the Prather case on page 3)

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