The South Dakota Baptist pastor facing state and federal charges in Pierre alleging he sought to hire a 15-year-old girl for sex is now in a halfway house in Sioux Falls with court appearances scheduled in January and February.
Joseph Raleigh, 34, was arrested Oct. 16 in Blunt about 9:30 at night where an agent of the state Division of Criminal Investigation, posing as a pimp, met him, to collect money for the assignation, the agent said in a court affidavit. The agent had posed online as a pimp for the girl, who was “played” by a made-up female agent for photos with a price list posted online to draw customers.
Raleigh showed up with $300 in cash he had agreed to pay for about a half-hour with the “girl’, the agent said.
Raleigh, 34, drove from his home in Miller where he was pastor of First Baptist Church, to Blunt that night and was arrested in the sting operation.
Raleigh resigned from the church within a few days. Southern Baptist leaders in the state told the Capital Journal other pastors were helping the congregation as well as Raleigh and his family.
Both federal prosecutors and the Hughes County state’s attorney charged Raleigh in connection with his arrest.
Raleigh pleaded not guilty to the charges which could put him in prison for years if he were to be convicted.
He was in the Hughes County Jail in Pierre for about a month until federal authorities approved his release to a halfway house in Sioux Falls.
He appeared Oct. 21 in federal court in Pierre on counts of attempted commercial sex trafficking of children and attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
The penalty for the charges is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to a possible life term in prison, according to court documents.
Hughes County State’s Attorney Wendy Kloeppner separately charged Raleigh in state court in Pierre with solicitation of a minor – or someone he reasonably thought to be a minor – for sex, a Class 4 felony, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. She also charged him with a misdemeanor count of trying to hire someone for sex.
Shortly after his arrest Oct. 16, Raleigh appeared in Hughes County court, via interactive TV from the jail, for his initial appearance.
Since then, he had not appeared in state court, partly because federal authorities did not make him available, even though he was in the Hughes County Jail in Pierre, Kloeppner told state Judge John Brown in November.
At his initial hearing, Raleigh told the state court he made $20,000 a year, working as pastor of the Baptist church in Miller and for a ranch owned by one of the church members. He and his wife have four children.
He was given a court-appointed attorney for the state charges, and a federal public defender, Jana Minor, is his attorney in federal court.
Raleigh appeared Nov. 6 in federal court seeking release to a halfway house called Stepping Stones but was denied by U.S. District Judge Mark Moreno.
He appeared again Nov. 18 in federal court and this time was granted permission by Moreno to be released from federal custody to Glory House, a halfway facility in Sioux Falls that was begun in 1968 by a Baptist church.
According to court documents, Raleigh is to be restricted to Glory House from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day, unless otherwise permitted by a court official and “shall continue mental health counseling.”
He also was ordered to seek a job and to pay from his wages part of the cost of his stay at Glory House.
In late November, Raleigh sought – and on Dec. 1 was given – a postponement of his federal trial until Feb. 2, to give him more time to prepare a defense.
Raleigh also asked for and was given a postponement of his next court appearance on the state charges from Dec. 15 until Jan. 20.
Kloeppner said this week that with Raleigh in the halfway house he is available to show up for the state court hearings.
The two prosecutions are proceeding separately.
“Be assured there is cooperation between state and federal officials on this case,” Ace Crawford, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney based in Sioux Falls, told the Capital Journal this week.