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Minister convicted of molesting 4 boys: 2 brothers already in prison for abuse

DATE: 04-02-1992
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
SECTION: Newspapers_&_Newswires
PAGE: A/03

Chattanooga, Tenn. - A Baptist minister joined his two brothers behind bars Wednesday when a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing four boys in his prominent Chattanooga church.

The nine-woman, three-man panel convicted the Rev. Don McCary of 13 counts of rape and child molestation. He will be sentenced May 1 and faces a maximum 76-year prison sentence.

"Thank God he'll never hurt another boy again," said the mother of a 14-year-old victim. "We thought we were doing good by sending our boys to a place where they would learn about God, but he was using his position in the church for his sexual gratification."

McCary, 48, former youth and music minister at the 4,400-member Central Baptist Church of Hixson, a Chattanooga suburb, is the third member of his family to be jailed for molesting children. His two brothers, Ron and Richard, both also Baptist ministers, have been convicted of similar charges.

The case was watched closely by professionals who work in the field of child sex abuse because of the McCary family history.

"This is a phenomenal case that should be studied extensively," said Deloris Roys, director of the Highland Institute for Behavioral Change in Atlanta. "This case could provide us with much-needed data regarding the causes and effects of child sexual abuse within a family."

Prosecutors claimed that Don McCary was tape-recording his conversations with the boys and sending the tapes to his brothers in prison. McCary also kept a diary in which he said the first question he planned to ask God was why he "likes little boys so much."

During closing arguments, Chattanooga prosecutor Stan Lanzo looked at McCary and said, "You ain't going to heaven and you will never get to ask that question.

"We read about evil," Mr. Lanzo told the jury. "We hear about evil. We are told about evil. Look at him. That is evil."

McCary took the witness stand and denied that he ever "laid one harmful hand" on the boys, ages 12 to 16.

During an exhaustive five-hour closing argument, McCary's defense attorney, Danny Davis, told jurors that the boys were lying and that prosecutors and police had "contaminated" their testimony by putting words into the children's mouths.

This was the same argument Mr. Davis used successfully in defending the infamous McMartin Pre-School case in Los Angeles two years ago.

"We knew how they botched up the McMartin case, and we were very careful not to make the same mistakes here," Mr. Lanzo said.

The boys testified that McCary had oral sex with them at his home, in his church office and while on church activities, including a weekend stay at Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Doug Meyer had McCary taken into custody immediately pending his sentencing and appeal. "The proof is overwhelming that Mr. McCary is guilty, and I believe he would be a threat to young children if he were free," Judge Meyer said.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution