A Baton Rouge pastor accused more than a year ago of raping an intellectually limited 20-year-old woman at the behest of her father will not be charged, a prosecutor and the pastor’s attorney said Thursday.
David “Scott” Lemley, pastor of New Harmony Baptist Church on Antioch Road, had told sheriff’s investigators that the woman was prone to making up stories for no reason.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie said that is not why prosecutors decided not to prosecute the 44-year-old Lemley, who was booked early last year on an aggravated rape count.
“That determination was not made because we think she makes up stories,” Bernie stressed. “There was a legal analysis done.”
The provision of Louisiana’s aggravated rape statute under which Lemley was arrested, she noted, states that the crime occurs when the victim is prevented from resisting the act “because the victim suffers from a physical or mental infirmity preventing such resistance.”
Lemley’s arrest warrant says the woman has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, but Bernie said the woman’s intellectual limitations do not rise to the level cited in the aggravated rape statute.
Because prosecutors did not believe they could prove the crime of aggravated rape beyond a reasonable doubt, Bernie said the only fair thing to do was to not charge Lemley.
Lemley’s attorney, Carson Marcantel, said a weight has been lifted off the shoulders of Lemley, who has maintained his innocence. The attorney added that Lemley does not want to comment.
“He has been vindicated by this decision,” Marcantel said.
“He’s just looking forward to resuming his life. His faith has been tested. He has emerged stronger. Thankfully, his church has stood with him.”
Marcantel said Lemley is still pastor of the church.
Lemley found himself accused of rape after he and his wife opened up their home to the woman and her father because the two were facing challenges, Marcantel explained.
“They were trying to be good Christians,” he said.
The arrest warrant alleged Lemley had sex with the woman after her father told her to do so because the pastor’s wife had been ill and bedridden, but Marcantel said Lemley denied having sex with the woman.
“The facts bore him out,” he said.
The woman told investigators that she and Lemley had sex on several occasions, even though she did not want to, but she could not provide exact dates of the rapes, the warrant states.
“No evidence that that occurred,” Marcantel said.
Authorities questioned Lemley in late 2013, and he denied having sex with the woman.
The woman’s father was arrested in November 2013 on a variety of sex counts, including aggravated rape. Bernie said he pleaded guilty to cruelty to a juvenile, a charge that involved his daughter and was unrelated to Lemley’s arrest. He served some jail time and remains on probation, the prosecutor said.
The father’s name is being withheld to protect the identity of his daughter.
Bernie said the woman is doing well.