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Former camp director charged with enticing child kills self

5-23-2007 Alabama:

ASHVILLE – A former local youth camp director, who was expected to make his initial court appearance today to face charges of enticing a child for immoral purposes, was found dead of an apparent suicide Tuesday.
St. Clair County Sheriff Terry Surles said the body of Larry Ray Palmer, 59, of Ashville was discovered Tuesday at his residence. Officials declined comment on how he died.

Palmer was arrested April 12 after he allegedly enticed a child for immoral purposes. He was released shortly after his arrest, posting a $50,000 bond. Palmer had remained out of jail on bond until his death.

It was the St. Clair County Baptist Association that reported to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department allegations made against Palmer involving a juvenile boy. The report led to Palmer’s arrest in April.

Palmer was hired by the Baptist Association as its interim camp director for Camp SonShine only months before his arrest. Shortly before his arrest, the association voted to relieve Palmer of all his duties as interim director.

After Palmer’s arrest, the association also voted to cancel summer camp at Camp SonShine, located just north of Pell City.

According to court documents, Palmer allegedly enticed a 13-year-old boy “into his residence and other locations for the purpose of viewing pornography, mutual masturbation and sexual touching.”

The incident he was charged with allegedly happened at Camp SonShine and at his residence, Feb. 23, 2007, according to court documents.

“I won’t deny the charge,” Palmer told The Daily Home shortly after he was released from the St. Clair County Jail in April. “I messed up, and I know that.”

Palmer said he took a teenager to swim at the camp’s pool. He said his swimming trunks kept falling off, so he put them along the side of the pool and was only skinny-dipping in the pool with the youth.

“It was still wrong for a Christian to do that,” Palmer said. “I stepped over the line.”

District Attorney Richard Minor said he was notified of Palmer’s death late Tuesday.

“Mr. Palmer had a court date for 9 a.m. tomorrow in District Court in front of Judge (Phil) Seay,” Minor said late Tuesday. “Based upon his death today, our office will now file a motion to dismiss based upon the defendant’s death.”

Minor said the motion he will file today in court is called an abatement motion.

He normally waits until he receives a death certification before filing an abatement motion, but because of the pending criminal charges and since the sheriff and coroner called his office and informed him of Palmer’s death, he will move forward and file the motion in court today.

Whitt Hibbs, pastor of Arbor Baptist Church in Pell City, who also serves on the Camp SonShine Committee, said he also learned of Palmer’s death late Tuesday.

“I’m just at a loss for words,” Hibbs said. “My heart goes out to his family.”

Hibbs served with Palmer at Camp SonShine last summer.

“I hope now that there can be closure, healing, and we can put this behind us and move on,” Hibbs said. ..more.. by David Atchison

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