Updated Feb. 10. By AT News Team: Pastor Michael W. Hill was taken into custody by sheriff’s officers in Daytona Beach, Florida, on January 8 as he met with the person who made the charges of sexual assault on which Hill is being held. When the alleged assault is supposed to have occurred in 1990 the woman making the allegation was 11 years of age, which means that the alleged crime has no statute of limitations.
Hill and his wife traveled from their home in Kansas to Florida to meet with the woman. During the conversation at Panera Bread on International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach, the Hills were evidently unaware that police were recording the meeting. An attorney asked by WJAX television Channel 4 in Jacksonville to review the official case file for journalists stated that the recording is “very likely to contain a confession.”
Marla Hill, the pastor’s wife, was questioned and released by police. Hill is being held without possibility of bail at the pre-trial detention center in Jacksonville. He was booked there on Jan. 12 after being transferred from Daytona Beach to Jacksonville where the charges were originally made. At his arraignment on Feb. 4 he pled not guilty to two counts of capital sexual battery, according to The Chanute Tribune.
Channel 4 television news in Jacksonville reported that it has obtained a copy of the arrest warrant for Hill which stated that the complainant did not report the alleged rape until 2002. She stated that it happened in 1990 when she was 11 years of age and Hill was a friend of the family. WJAX news labeled Hill’s conversation with the woman in Daytona Beach as “a sting” and stated that “Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office investigators believe there might be other victims.”
On Jan. 19 the president of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Seventh-day Adventists told The Chanute Tribune that Hill had been removed as pastor of the Chanute and Thayer, Kansas, Adventist congregations. Pastor Ron Carlson told the newspaper that the action was “solely due to [Hill’s] inability to carry out the duties of a pastor while in jail” in another state. He was likely being careful not to prejudice Hill’s case under a fundamental principle of American jurisprudence that the accused are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Hill began his assignment in the two Kansas churches in November last year. Carlson told the newspaper that Hill was previously a pastor employed by the denomination’s Carolina Conference, which includes the states of North and South Carolina. The routine background check done by the Kansas-Nebraska Conference “came back clean,” the newspaper reported.
Chanute and Thayer are small towns in the southwest corner of the State of Kansas. Chanute has a population of 9,161 and the Adventist congregation has 32 members. Thayer has a population of 486 and the Adventist congregation has 47 members.