Ronald Lee Pyles, church pastor, goes on trial for rape of woman

By Peter H. Milliken


A nonjury trial began Monday afternoon for a North Jackson church pastor accused of raping a woman who lived in the church’s homeless shelter.

That forced postponement of the jury trial of another man on two counts of felonious assault with a gun and firing into a residence.

Both cases are on the docket of Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The Rev. Ronald Lee Pyles, 59, pastor at Victory Harvest Ministry, 13243 Palmyra Road, is charged with two counts each of rape and gross sexual imposition.

The Rev. Mr. Pyles, who waived his right to a jury trial and remains jailed under $150,000 bond, is accused of raping a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman between October 2010 and March 2011.

“Ronald Pyles is a sick and perverse individual, who sexually abused a mentally disabled 19-year-old girl during a time when he was entrusted with her care,” said Natasha Frenchko, an assistant county prosecutor, during her opening statement.

“This young lady has been manipulated into this testimony,” which emerged three months after her last contact with anyone from the church, Pyles’ lawyer, David Gerchak, told Judge Evans.

Jackson Township police began investigating in March 2012, when the woman’s guardian reported the allegations.

Victory Harvest is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit organization.

It serves primarily as an alcohol- and drug-addiction treatment facility and provides temporary shelter to homeless people.

Witnesses in Mr. Pyles’ trial will begin testifying at 9 a.m. today.

The felonious assault trial of Earl Charity III, 26, of Delaware Avenue, was postponed until after Pyles’ trial ends.

Charity’s lawyer, Ronald E. Knickerbocker, asked for a delay due to snow cover he said would obscure the alleged crime scene and be hazardous for jurors during a jury view he called “critical to the defense.”

In this case, Charity is charged with an armed assault on two people March 22, 2010, and with firing into their residence in the 1100 block of Springdale Avenue during the assault, and with illegal gun possession.

In a separate case involving Charity, the prosecution is appealing Judge Evans’ Nov. 15 dismissal of an aggravated murder charge against Charity, due to what Judge Evans said was the prosecution’s failure to comply with speedy-trial requirements. The appeal was filed in the 7th District Court of Appeals

Charity was charged in the Oct. 4, 2009, shooting death of Darrick Hall, 23, of East Marion Avenue, whose body was found at North Avenue and Arlington Street. A co-defendant, Marcus T. Rutledge, 26, of Brookline Avenue, drew a six-year prison term from Judge Evans after Rutledge pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter.

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