Former Pastor Insists He Did Nothing Illegal

Thursday, February 22nd 2007, 9:12 pm
By: News On 6

A former Tulsa pastor is headed back to court. Lonnie Latham is on trial in Oklahoma City, facing a misdemeanor charge of offering to engage in a lewd act.

The arrest last year sent shockwaves through much of the Southern Baptist community in Oklahoma, since Latham had been involved in the church on a national level. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports Reverend Lonnie Latham was very outspoken against homosexuality before he was accused of approaching a male undercover police officer in Oklahoma City for a sex act.

Oklahoma City Police were working the area after receiving complaints. Latham decided against having a jury decide his fate and will be tried in front of a judge only. His attorney asked the judge to throw out the charge. He says the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that asking for a sexual act between two consenting adults is legal. He argues Latham simply asked someone to do something legal, which is not a crime.

Prosecutors say the government has a legitimate interest in regulating offers for lewd acts. Both sides have agreed Latham never offered money to the undercover officer and the police report will be the only evidence presented.

After his arrest, Latham resigned as senior pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church and stepped down from the board of directors of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The judge will make a decision on the request to throw out the charge in the next couple of weeks. If Latham is found guilty, he faces up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.