The charges against Ellison were dropped to “skip a step” in judicial proceedings and go straight to a grand jury, Minton says, and the prosecution didn’t want the alleged victim to have to testify twice. Minton will pursue grand jury indictments on the original warrants in the coming weeks.
Ellison’s attorney, Michael Herring, could not be reached for comment by press time.
Ellison, 42, had been the subject of a criminal investigation by the Henrico County Police. Based on information from the county’s Department of Social Services, Ellison was charged Dec. 17 with four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor and one count of aggravated sexual battery. All five are felonies. Ellison has since been free on bond.
“I pray that my family and my community can work now to put this behind us,” Ellison said last week after the charges had been dropped. Still, he worried about the possibility that he could be re-indicted.
According to Henrico police, the alleged victim was a 16-year-old girl who had been in the Ellisons’ custody for four years. She alleged the incidents occurred during that time in the Ellisons’ home.
Style interviewed Ellison, his wife, Kendra, and his attorney, Michael Herring, about the investigation in February. “The only thing I’m guilty of, my wife will tell you, is being na‹ve, loving too much.” Ellison said at the time. “You open your heart, you open your home, and then this will happen. If I had to do it over again, yes, I would. However, I would put in place more preventive measures,” he said.
Today Ellison says he’s focusing on the low-income neighborhoods he serves. After stepping down during the probe, he’s resumed his role as pastor of Essex Village Community Church and its programs. He says he and his wife also have launched a church in Lincoln Manor, a rough North Side neighborhood full of troubled kids.
Despite his resolve, Ellison fears his high-profile image as a conservative black preacher has been irrevocably damaged. He says forgiveness is key. “Nobody wins in a case like this,” he says. “My heart is really broken.” — Brandon Walters
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