EAST PRAIRIE, Mo. -- Prosecutors have charged the pastor of an East Prairie church with sexually assaulting three young children, and authorities say further charges are likely.
Mississippi County prosecutors on Wednesday charged 36-year-old Kenneth Neal Allen with three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy and possession of child pornography. He remained without bond and without an attorney Thursday. His arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday.
Sheriff Keith Moore said the three alleged victims are under the age of 13, but he declined to be more specific. Moore said Allen may have sexually assaulted as many as four other children, and that further charges could be filed within days. Moore said those four children are undergoing physical examinations to determine the extent of any abuse.
"It's going to be a long, drawn-out thing before we get it concluded," Moore said of the investigation. "We wanted to get this person off the street so there won't be other victims."
Allen, who is married without children, is pastor of Grace Apostolic Church in East Prairie. The church does not have a listed phone number.
Moore said Allen lived in other states before arriving in East Prairie in 2009. He didn't know if Allen started the church or took over as pastor from someone else.
"It's a tragedy that somebody in that position would do things like that," Moore said.
KFVS12 interviewed the mothers of the alleged victims who said their children would stay overnight with Allen while the parents worked. One of the women said she became suspicious when she picked up her son who came out wearing only boxer shorts -- a different pair than he was wearing when he left home -- and was covered with lotion.
Ann Allen, Kenneth Allen's mother, told KFVS the accusations are lies.
Some church members told the TV station they also don't believe the allegations.