By PAUL STONE
A 68-year-old Anderson County man who claims to have been a preacher for more than a half century has been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Larry Gene Martin, 68, of Palestine was arrested without incident around 1:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14 at his residence in the 800 block of CR 367 by sheriff's deputy Ted Linam, according to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor.
Authorities say Martin, who has told authorities he began preaching at age 16, sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl on multiple occasions between July 2009 and December 2009.
Taylor said his agency was first contacted concerning the allegations "a few months ago," with sheriff's investigator Lee Duren obtaining a warrant for Martin's arrest on Thursday.
The sheriff said Martin, who has no previous criminal history, moved in with the girl's family following the death of his wife.
Martin was pastor at Faith Bible Church which met in a house in the Brushy Creek area during the time of the allegations, according to Taylor.
"They (the family) allowed him to move in," Taylor said. "These incidents occurred multiple times during that period of time."
The sheriff said authorities believe the suspect allegedly sexually assaulted the young girl "between five and 10" times, including intercourse.
On Friday, Taylor told the Herald-Press he was uncertain whether the church remained in existence.
Martin has been "somewhat cooperative" during interviews, according to the sheriff, telling investigators he began preaching at age 16; was "ordained" in 1963; and has pastored a total of nine churches over the past 52 years, stretching from Houston-to-East Texas.
In addition to Palestine and Houston, Taylor said Martin has indicated he pastored churches in Porter, Splendora, Longview, Pittsburg and Gilmer.
"We're worried these other little churches he's pastored," the sheriff said, "there's other victims...If there are other victims, they should contact the Anderson County Sheriff's Office."
As of late Friday afternoon, Martin remained in the Anderson County Jail in lieu of a $75,000 bond set by Anderson County Justice of the Peace James Todd.
Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org