Alleged rape victim takes stand in former pastor's trial

Dale Richardson listens to charges against him at an August 2011 bond hearing. (Brandon Geier/WCIV)

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (WCIV) -- The trial for a former pastor facing three counts of criminal sexual conduct and four counts of kidnapping charges began Tuesday for two of those charges.

Dale Richardson also faces charges of first-degree assault and battery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

The trial that began Tuesday morning is for one of the incidents, which involves only one of the women he is accused of attacking. The state is trying him for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and kidnapping.

Richardson kept a straight face through all of Tuesday's testimony, even looking at the victim while she took the stand.

In opening statements, the state argued it would prove Richardson is a sexual predator.

The state's first witness was the alleged victim. She told the jury she worked as an escort, but that morning in July 2011 she was trying to get a ride to a gas station. She said the suspect picked her up, put a pillowcase over her head, took her to a trailer and raped her.

She said she cried during the incident. Afterward, Richardson told her, "God doesn't save people like you," she said.

She said during the incident she was able to memorize the phone numbers on Richardson's business card inside his truck. She called the number later that night. When he answered, she was able to identify Richardson, she said.

After he hung up on her, she called back and got his information from voicemail. She said after that she Googled him and was shocked to find out he was a pastor.

Richardson's attorney Andy Savage argued his client may have sinned but never committed a crime. He said the victim's phone records showed Richardson and the victim had texted before the incident.

He said his client was trying to fulfill a sexual fantasy by making a meeting with her.

The accuser became very hostile toward Savage and told him he had incorrect information. She said she texts and takes calls from a lot of people and wouldn't remember who texted her before the incident.

Bond was set at $250,000 for the former Ladson pastor last April. The bonds had the conditions of GPS monitoring, house arrest, a no exception curfew from sunset to sunrise, and no contact with any of the alleged victims.

Investigators said the kidnappings and rapes took place as early as January 2010 and continued until{}an arrest was made in late-July 2011.

One of the rapes allegedly happened behind the church where he was acting as pastor.

According to investigators, on Jan. 5, 2010, Richardson picked up a woman who was hitch hiking on Rivers Avenue.{} Richardson offered her a ride to a friend's house on Ashley Phosphate Road.{} Rather than taking her there, he drove her down a secluded area on Mallard Road in Summerville.{}

Investigators say Richardson unzipped his pants and ordered the woman to perform oral sex on him.{} He then demanded the woman to take off her clothes. Police say he then raped her before telling her to get out of his truck.

The woman fled the scene and then contacted the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office using a pay phone at a Hess gas station.

On Aug. 12, 2010, investigators say Richardson picked up another woman, placed a hood over her head, and used a handgun to get her to comply with his orders.{} Richardson then took the woman to 119 Barnhill Road and raped her behind the Freedom Free Will Baptist Church.

According to Savage, the alleged victims in each case have their own troubles with the law, stemming from drugs and prostitution.

The high-profile attorney said he took on Richardson's case after members of the former pastor's church approached him, hoping Savage can save Richardson from a life behind bars.

Savage said church members were not funding Richardson's defense.{} Instead, loved ones close to the former pastor are footing the bill. According to court documents, his wife Susan ended up paying $25,000 to get him released.

Trial proceedings will start again on Wednesday morning.

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