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Windermere conference leader arrested

COLUMBIA, Mo. (BP) — Windermere Baptist Conference Center’s president and chief executive officer was arrested Aug. 5 on charges related to bestiality, Missouri Baptist Convention’s newsjournal, The Pathway, reported.

Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force detectives arrested Jerald (Jerry) Lee Hill, 56, of Roach, Mo., on charges of attempted unlawful sex with an animal and attempted animal abuse, according to St. Louis’ CBS/KMOX News Radio’s website. The arrest followed an investigation that began in late July when Hill allegedly posted an ad on Craigslist soliciting for an animal with which to have sex.

A detective with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force went under cover and exchanged emails with Hill, getting him to travel to Columbia to engage in the act, according to KOMU television in Columbia. Detectives met Hill at a predetermined location and took him into custody.

Tracy Perkins with the Cyber Crimes Task Force told ABC 17 News in Columbia that a Craigslist user saw Hill’s online request, flagged it as inappropriate, and then left a tip for the Cyber Crimes Task Force. The primary responsibility of the cyber crimes unit, Perkins said, is to protect children. During her years of working with the task force, Perkins added, she has seen a correlation between bestiality and child pornography.

“It’s under that dark world and it’s that area where nobody wants to get caught doing,” Perkins told ABC 17 News. “This person in particular I think just got very bold.”

ABC News 17 reported it had contacted Windermere Baptist Conference Center several times for comment, but had not heard back. The Pathway reported the Windermere board could meet next week to choose a new executive.

Hill was named president and chief executive officer by Windermere’s self-perpetuating trustee board Jan. 24, 2013, The Pathway reported. Hill’s wife Janet was named Windermere’s vice president for ministry programming on the same day.

Hill was trained as an attorney at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and has worked mostly in business and consulting, The Pathway reported. He graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty. Married for 34 years, the Hills have two sons and a teenage daughter. Hill is the brother of former Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive director Jim Hill.

In 2001 Windermere’s self-perpetuating board voted to break away from the MBC. Since then, the convention has sought the return of the full 1,300 acres at Windermere, which Missouri Baptists acquired in 1957. In 2013, a Camden County judge denied the convention’s bid for a jury trial, and earlier this year the Missouri Supreme Court refused to reconsider that ruling. See related story here.

The MBC announced in June that it had purchased from a third party approximately 970 acres of land formerly part of the conference center.
Reported by The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Baptist Press staff contributed to this report. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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