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Local minister indicted on sodomy, pornogaphy charges

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He is charged with having deviant sex with minor while HIV positive

By Lisa King

   A Shelbyville minister who has been incarcerated since the first week of January on sexual-related offenses now has been indicted on additional charges.

In addition to four counts of third-degree sodomy on a juvenile, first-degree sexual abuse, and first-degree wanton endangerment, James H. Bell, 47, former pastor of Refuge Temple Church of God in Christ, has been charged with distribution of obscene material to a minor.

The indictment, handed down Wednesday by a Shelby County Grand Jury, says that Bell showed obscene and pornographic material to a minor, and in addition to the charges of deviant sex, he is also charged with solo sexual activity in the presence of the minor.

Bell, who has declined an interview from his cell, is still in protective custody at the Shelby Detention Center, jail officials said.

Jailer Bobby Waits said previously that he had placed Bell in solitary for his own protection from the other inmates, because of the nature of his charges.

“We were afraid things might get ugly in the cells,” he said.

Bell called police in January and arranged to meet them to confess these crimes, which are alleged to have occurred in the summer of 2007 in Shelby and Logan counties.  

Police say Bell admitted knowing that he was HIV positive when he had deviant sex with the juvenile, a fact that earned him the charge of first-degree wanton endangerment.

The indictment said his actions manifested extreme indifference to the value of human life when he wantonly engaged in conduct that created a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to the juvenile.

Family members later confirmed that Bell was being treated for AIDs.

Shelby County Commonwealth's Attorney Laura Donnell said that Bell has not yet been scheduled for an arraignment.

Bell has been a minister since 1984 and served in Shelbyville since 2007. The church that Bell headed up, located on Equity Street in Shelbyville, has disbanded.