Charge dropped against Garrard minister

October 03, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

LEXINGTON - A Garrard County minister accused of indecent exposure at a Lexington park had that charged dismissed Friday in Fayette County District Court.

District Judge David F. Hayse accepted a recommendation from prosecutors that the charge against Rev. Everett Priddy be dismissed with the stipulation that Priddy agreed there was "probable cause" for his arrest by an undercover officer in June in a restroom at Jacobson Park.

Priddy, pastor of Hyattsville Baptist Church near Lancaster, his wife Linda and his attorney declined to comment on the case Friday as they were leaving the courtroom.

Assistant prosecutors at the courthouse also declined to comment, referring questions to Fayette County Attorney Margaret Kennison. Kennison did not return phone calls Friday.


Other lawyers explained that prosecutors often require defendants to stipulate "probable cause" that an arrest was justified when charges are dismissed to prevent the defendant from suing police for wrongful arrest.

Frankie Eden of Lancaster, a deacon at Hyattsville Baptist, said Saturday that church leaders and most of the 200-member congregation had stuck by Priddy through the ordeal, and were glad it finally ended with the charge being dismissed.

"We never believed he was guilty from the get-go. We've known him for 16 years and he's always been a stand-up man and a good leader," Eden said

Priddy was arrested on June 22 as part of sting operation by Lexington police in response to several complaints about sexual activity at the park. Priddy was accused of exposing himself to an undercover officer. The case was continued at least two times before being dismissed Friday.

"We're glad they finally got it over with. It's been a lot of strain on his family, a whole lot of strain," Eden said.

Priddy took three weeks off from the pulpit immediately following his arrest, but has been back on the job ever since. Attendance at the church dropped off slightly after publicity surrounding Priddy's arrest, but the congregation grew stronger as it rallied behind its preacher, Eden said.

"There were a few who left and said they probably wouldn't be coming back, but we stayed behind him," the deacon said. "It helped grow us closer together."

The church will hold it's annual homecoming celebration today, an event that was already planned before the charge was dismissed. News that Priddy had been cleared will make a celebratory day even more special, said member Stella Gaffney.

"I know this makes a lot of people real happy," Gaffney said.

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