Preliminary hearing scheduled Tuesday for alleged Colleton Co. cult preacher


The 85-year-old Colleton County preacher accused of criminal sexual misconduct and kidnapping is set to have a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if there is enough probable cause to send the case to trial.

Ralph Stair was released on $750,000 bond in late January. Part of the conditions of the release included electronic monitoring, forfeiture of his passport and no contact with his accusers or persons under 18 at his compound. He must also grant unfettered access to law enforcement. Prosecutors initially asked for $1 million bond in the case.

GRAPHIC: Some of the details of the charges contain explicit sexual references and may be very disturbing.

Stair was arrested in December 2017 at the Overcomer Ministry on Augusta Highway in Walterboro. The charges against Stair span more than 20 years from 1992 to June 2017. One charge stems from a woman’s claim that Stair consistently harassed her for sex, stating he wanted to “kiss her tummy” which the victim said everyone understood to mean “oral sex.”

Another charge states Stair was preaching to his congregation and called an underage girl to approach him on two separate occasions, asked her age, and fondled her right breast according to investigators. Investigators say Stair came to one victim’s residence from January 1998 until the early part of June 1999. The victim told detectives that once he was in her home, he would sexually assault her, and said it happened approximately 35 or more times over the course of a year-and-a-half.

Stair’s arrest in December came three months after Live 5 News police reporter Harve Jacobs investigated Stair. The investigation stemmed from a video which showed Stair apparently grabbing a 12-year-old girl during a church service.

Stair was arrested in 2004 for improperly touching two female members of the church. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and got two 30-day terms.

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