Jailed minister confesses to being HIV positive

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By Lisa King

A minister of a Shelbyville church who was arrested and charged with sodomy and  sexual abuse of a juvenile confessed to having unprotected sex with a 15-year-old while knowing that he was HIV postive, according to court records.

In addition to third-degree sodomy, James H. Bell, 47, pastor of Refuge Temple Church of God in Christ, has been charged with second-degree sexual abuse and first-degree wanton endangerment, which could be in  conjunction with the HIV situation.

The  arrest report states further that Bell  also confesses that he knowingly withheld that he was HIV positive from the teenager.

Trooper Ron Turley said last week, when Bell was arrested, that KSP Post 12 received a call Tuesday from Shelby County Detention Center officials, who said that Bell had come to the detention center to confess to some crimes that he had committed.

According to a report prepared by Turley, Bell told trooper Steve Spurlock that he had had sexual encounters with a juvenile on multiple occasions in the summer of 2007 and that they had occurred in Shelby and Logan counties.

Tuesday night, troopers and detectives executed a search warrant at Bell's residence in Shelbyville.

He was arrested and lodged in the Shelby County Detention Center.

Turley said that third-degree sodomy is classified as deviant sexual intercourse with a minor less than 16 years of age, when committed in the context of an adult in position of authority.  It is not known if the teenager  is male or female.

Third-degree sodomy is a Class D Felony, punishable by a prison sentence of 1-5 years.

Turley said that additional charges could be pending on Bell if offenses are found to be have been committed in Logan County.

According to his church's Web site, Bell was called to preach in 1978 and was ordained in 1984. He and his wife, Donya, have three children.  Neither Mrs. Webb or anyone else contacted has returned phone calls to the newspaper.

Bell  also declined an interview from his cell.