Minister transferred twice before giving up credentials

Sunday, March 30th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A man acquitted of charges that he sexually assaulted three girls while a chaplain at drug treatment center surrendered his credentials as a Methodist minister in 1994 after being accused of sexual assaults at churches.

Bill Story was transferred twice within six years in Oklahoma before giving up his credentials. Two years later, in 1996, a Methodist official recommended Story for a job working with troubled teenagers at the Rader Diagnostic & Treatment Center in Sand Springs, the Tulsa World reported Sunday.

State officials apparently failed to uncover a protective order entered against Story or the fact he surrendered his credentials as a United Methodist minister.

In January, a jury acquitted Story of charges that he sexually assaulted three girls at the Rader center in November and December of 2000.

Records generated before the trial show Story was previously accused of sexually assaulting women at churches in Grove and Tulsa, where he was pastor.

One of the women obtained a protective order against Story in 1994, records show.

Ray Owen, bishop over the United Methodist Southwest Texas and Rio Grande conferences until he retired in 2000, wrote a letter to the Office of Juvenile Affairs supporting Story's hiring, according to records.

Owen was superintendent over the Bartlesville district in Oklahoma when Story was a pastor at the Skiatook United Methodist Church during the early 1980s.

"While Bill was a pastor, I was his district superintendent for about four years. I have known him for many years. I was not aware of any impediments in his work as a pastor," according to the letter of recommendation, obtained by the Tulsa World under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

"He works hard, although I understand he is now retired from the ministry in the United Methodist Church. I count him as a friend."

Owen said that when he wrote the letter, he was not aware of any reports that Story had sexually assaulted women at two churches.

"I had no reports of any kind that were negative," Owen told the newspaper.

Dan Solomon, who was United Methodist bishop over Oklahoma when both of the claims were made, declined to discuss his role in the investigation. Solomon now serves as a University Methodist Church representative at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas.

"I'm unable to help you out at this time. I don't have all the information," Solomon said.

Story declined an interview request by the Tulsa World.