Grundy pastor waives preliminary hearing in child sex case

Grundy pastor waives preliminary hearing in child sex case

June 7th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Breaking News

This story was updated June 7, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.

A Grundy County, Tennessee, pastor charged last week with attempted child rape waived a preliminary hearing in the case Tuesday.

William E. Smith, 48, was arrested May 31 after two patrolling deputies discovered Smith and a 12-year-old girl in his pickup truck in a remote wooded area near Gruetli-Laager, according to a Grundy County Sheriff's Office arrest report. Smith's hometown was listed as Dayton in the report.

William E. Smith Jr.

William E. Smith Jr.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said Smith attended a hearing Tuesday during which he elected to waive a preliminary hearing on the charge in Grundy County General Sessions Court and Judge Trey Anderson bound the case over to the grand jury and set a $200,000 bond.

"If he makes [the bond], he has to wear an ankle monitor and he was ordered to have no contact with [the victim's] family," Taylor said of the judge's orders.

Taylor said the Grundy County grand jury will meet July 9.

On May 31, Smith identified himself to Deputy Larry Sims and Capt. Josh King "as a pastor of a church in Palmer," a town within a couple of miles of the scene where authorities said they found Smith and the girl in the truck, according to the report.

Sims and King were patrolling Ross Creek Road looking for a stolen ATV when Sims decided to drive past an area known for drug use and dealing. Sims spotted a maroon pickup truck that appeared to have no one inside, the report states.

But when Sims and King stepped out of their vehicle, they could tell the truck's engine was running so they started approaching the vehicle. Sims said he was able to see a male occupant and female occupant lying in the truck seat. The man appeared to have pulled down his pants, the report states.

When the officers could see the female occupant more clearly, she appeared to be "very young," Sims states. Smith reportedly tried to convince the officers the girl was 18 years old and even tried to convince the girl to say she was 18, but when they asked the girl she eventually told them was 13. Later authorities determined she was actually 12, Sims' report states.

The girl told authorities Smith was supposed to drop her off at home but drove onto Ross Creek Road so he could relieve himself. The report states the girl said Smith returned to the truck and pulled her down into the seat and began to touch her and pull up her skirt. The girl said that's when the deputies knocked on the truck window and interrupted, the report states.

During a search, deputies found several different unidentified pills in Smith's pants pocket. Those had not yet been identified at the time Sims filed the original report.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.