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Evangelists Charged With Running Boy Prostitutes Are Released On Bond

April 26, 1988

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) _ Three Georgia ministers have been released on bond and ordered to appear in Virginia for trial on federal charges of transporting young boys across state lines for prostitution.

U.S. Magistrate William L. Slaughter on Monday ordered the release of Pentecostal ministers Tony Leyva, 41, of Columbus; Rias Edward Morris, 47, an organist in Leyva’s Columbus church; and Freddie M. Herring, 49, of Douglasville, Ga., on $20,000 unsecured bonds each.

A federal grand jury in Roanoke, Va., charged Leyva, Morris and Herring with taking young boys under age 18 across state lines for prostitution between May 1983 and July 1987.

The FBI began an investigation after receiving complaint from police in Roanoke.

Leyva had spent the weekend in jail and Sunday services at his church were canceled, although staff members and supporters held an informal afternoon service.

″The minister is an innocent man who’s been falsely accused,″ said David Henderson, director of operations for the Tony Leyva Evangelistic Association. ″He will be cleared of all charges. It’s just a matter of time.″

Also canceled Sunday was Leyva’s television program on Columbus’ independent station WXTX. General manager Gary Hlavacek said he has not yet decided whether to terminate the show.

″I said we better pull the program for today, then go from there,″ Hlavacek said.

Leyva’s program had taken a time slot formerly held by evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who was defrocked earlier this year after a sex scandal involving charges that he had visited motels with prostitutes.

Hlavacek said Swaggart’s program was canceled because of financial problems, not because of the sex scandal.

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