BY JANICE MORSE
HAMILTON -- A Butler County jury will resume deliberations today,
deciding the fate of a Middletown minister accused of sexually molesting
After Thursday's final arguments, jurors began deliberations around
11 a.m. They continued their work until 7 p.m.
They will decide whether the Rev. Darrell S. Bell, a longtime
preacher and steelworker, is guilty of molesting his daughter repeatedly
from the time she was 10 until she turned 18 and went away to Bowling
Green State University.
The Rev. Mr. Bell is charged with six counts of rape, three counts of
felonious sexual penetration and five counts of sexual battery. The
44-year-old Middletown man is an AK Steel employee who has been
associate pastor of Bethlehem Temple First Pentecostal Church. He also
has conducted services at his home on Eighth Avenue in Middletown,
calling the congregation the Whole Life Family Assembly. He has been a
clergyman for 25 years.
Generally, The Cincinnati Enquirer -->does not identify
complaining witnesses in child molestation cases. However, the
complainant in this case, Dawn Bell, now 20, consented Thursday to
disclosing her name, saying, "I want to be an example for other women."
Her father denies he has molested her or anyone else.
In closing arguments Thursday, assistant county prosecutor Patricia
Downing explained why there were no eyewitnesses and why the case boiled
down to the Rev. Mr. Bell's word against his daughter's. "It's a crime
of seduction of a child. It's a secret crime . . . sometimes it goes on
for years and years undetected. That's what happened in this case," she
Ms. Downing also pointed out that none of the witnesses testified
that the Rev. Mr. Bell denied the allegations to them. During a
conversation with his son, Darrell S. Bell II, the Rev. Mr. Bell
allegedly said he was sorry that his son, visiting from college, had to
be there during all of the turmoil.
"What he says is significant. But what, to me, is more significant:
He never said to his son, "I didn't do it,' " Ms. Downing said. "He gave
a rationalization: "I was abused.' "
The Rev. Mr. Bell denied making that statement. He testified that the
conversation with his son focused on education, not abuse allegations.
The preacher also denied saying he'd been a victim of sexual abuse.
Defense lawyer Robert Bostick said Dawn Bell's statements conflicted
with the other witnesses' testimony because her allegations were false.
The only document suggesting possible molestation was an October 1988
report from Middletown Regional Hospital. Dawn Bell was examined there
when she was 10 after complaining of abdominal pain and an unusual
vaginal discharge. She was diagnosed with a yeast infection. The report,
which bears the Rev. Mr. Bell's signature, reads, "No documented history
of sexual activity, but stepmother isn't entirely sure."
Holding that report, Ms. Downing told the jury: "A 10-year-old that's
sexually active? Somebody should've been looking into that. They missed
it. It was there."
Mr. Bostick questioned why his client would have taken his daughter
to the hospital and signed the examination report if he had been abusing