The pastor and the former daycare director at First United Methodist Church in Hopkinsville were arraigned in Christian Circuit Court Wednesday morning. The Christian County Grand Jury recently indicted Senior Pastor Paige Williams and Abby Leach on first-degree complicity to criminal abuse of a child under 12 years of age.
Williams’ defense attorney, Bill Deatherage, and Leach’s attorney, Ben Fletcher, both entered not guilty pleas before Judge John Atkins. Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling advised the judge the initial discovery had been turned over to the attorneys.
Judge Atkins scheduled a pre-trial conference for administrative purposes for both cases on the morning of September 11 at 8:30.
Judge Atkins said the case against former daycare employee Allison Simpson is being transferred from Judge Andrew Self’s court in order for all three cases to be consolidated. Boling then informed Judge Atkins more charges are forthcoming in the Simpson case and he doesn’t anticipate indicting her until early October.
According to the indictments, Williams and Leach intentionally breached their legal duty to protect at least seven children who were being cared for at the daycare. The children, whose initials were listed on the indictment, are all under 13 months of age. The indictments also accuse Williams and Leach of failing to prevent Simpson from intentionally abusing the children. The indictments also say their breach of legal duty placed the children in a situation that might cause serious physical injury, torture, cruel confinement or cruel punishment at the hands of Simpson.
Simpson was indicted in April on two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment and second-degree criminal abuse of a child under 12 years of age. An arrest warrant filed by Hopkinsville Police says Simpson allegedly subjected an 8-month old and a 10-month old to cruel care and confinement on January 10 of this year at the First United Methodist Church daycare.