Three men charged with sexual assault

Sunday, January 12, 2003

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- A preacher, a Sunday school teacher and a song leader are accused in Bollinger County of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, said Sheriff Terry Wiseman.

The sheriff's department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol began an 11-month investigation Feb. 2, 2002, after the woman's family sought help, Wiseman said.

The three men, all members of the Marble Hill Bible Chapel, are part-time preacher Frank Burgess, 43, Sunday school teacher Bruce Johnson, 44, and church singer Hurley Dixon, 67. They were arrested Dec. 31 and face first-degree felony charges of sexual assault and deviant sexual assault. They are free on bonds of $50,000 each and await a preliminary hearing set for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

When contacted Saturday, Johnson declined to comment on the charges against him. A woman answering the telephone at Dixon's home refused to take a message. A message left at Burgess' home went unreturned as of late Saturday.

The alleged victim was also a church member, Wiseman confirmed. She told investigators that for months the men would have sex with her at various places, including at their homes and at the church. The woman accused Johnson of showing her pornographic films in the church's Sunday school room and said Dixon would signal when he wanted to have sex with her by flashing a light in a room of the church.

Denied accusations

When interviewed by investigators, the men denied the accusations and said the woman had not been in their homes, Wiseman said. However, after their homes were searched, items the woman had described were seized as evidence.

Wiseman turned the investigation over to the patrol shortly after the woman's family contacted him because the case demanded more expertise and attention than his department could provide, Wiseman said.

"The patrol's investigative division is absolutely covered up with cases," he said to explain the length of the investigation. "They have had several murders occur in that time, and they took precedence. But they did a very good, extensive investigation."

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: