Bond set today for Brother Ralph Stair | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | January 24, 2018 4:28 pm
Fourteenth Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner split the difference when it came time to set bond for Ralph G. Stair, the religious leader of Overcomer Ministry.
At the beginning of Stair’s bond hearing on eight criminal counts, Sean Thornton of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office told Buckner that a pair of letters from two of Stair’s alleged victims and a third victim, who appeared at Wednesday afternoon’s bond hearing, were asking the court to deny bond.
If that was not possible, Thornton said, the prosecution requested bond be set at $1 million dollars and contain a variety of conditions.
Those conditions included Stair not having contact with any of the victims or their families; not having contact with anyone under 18 years of age; surrendering his passport; and wearing an electronic monitor.
Columbia attorney Jack Swerling, who joined Beaufort attorney Scott Lee on Stair’s defense team, requested Buckner set a bond of between $250,000 and $500,000, while agreeing with the other bond conditions put forth by Thornton.
Swerling pointed out that when Stair was arrested in 2002, he spent two years out on $500,000 bond without a violation and had forfeited his passport. Stair never had that passport returned, Swerling said, and had not obtained a new one since then.
He also suggested that the bond condition concerning Stair not having contact with anyone under 18 years old was not necessary, saying that he had been told that there was no one under 18 living at the compound.
Buckner — after fine-tuning the bond conditions to allow Stair to leave the group’s religious compound at 12680 Augusta Highway for meetings with his attorneys and to seek emergency medical care — set Stair’s bond at $750,000.
While Stair was either seated or standing at the front of the courtroom, he periodically turned around and glanced at the rear of the courtroom, which contained many of the estimated 40 residents of the Overcomer Ministry compound.
Stair, 84, was taken into custody on eight criminal counts filed by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office during a raid on the church compound the morning of Dec. 18.
The charges include three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and single counts of assault with the intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, second-degree assault, first-degree burglary, and third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.