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Judge Cancels Minister’s Bigamy Charge

March 8, 2002

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ A judge said Thursday there was evidence that a minister committed bigamy but dismissed the felony charge, saying it was filed in the wrong city.

The Rev. Thomas Cross Sr., 55, had been accused of marrying Michelle Branton while he was still married to Leticia Cross, his wife of about 30 years.

``I want to pray. Thank God,″ Cross said after the ruling. ``God is going to vindicate me all the way through.″

Defense attorney Robert Hagans argued the Norfolk court had no jurisdiction because Cross and Branton were married in Richmond.

Prosecutor Marcia Ziegler said the case should be tried in Norfolk because Cross and Branton applied for a marriage license in Norfolk.

``I don’t give up. We’ll see what happens in Richmond,″ said Branton, 38, who thought she had married a retired Harvard University professor who had been divorced for seven years. Cross had been a janitor at Harvard.

Cross still faces criminal charges of making threatening calls to Branton. He has also been sued for allegedly selling his Boston church out from under his congregation before he moved to Virginia.

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