A former Healdton minister has been charged with additional crimes in connection with a child molestation case that sent him to prison in 2005.


A former Healdton minister has been charged with additional crimes in connection with a child molestation case that sent him to prison in 2005.

 

District Attorney Craig Ladd filed two counts of possession of child pornography against Christopher A. Ragle earlier this month. Last week the 40-year-old one-time minister was returned from the Jess Dunn Correctional Center, located at Taft, where he is serving 12 years of a 20-year prison sentence, to face the new charges. He made an initial appearance in Carter County District Court last week. Currently he is incarcerated in the Carter County Detention Center awaiting the results of a preliminary hearing conference set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

 

Ladd said he filed the child pornography charges after learning Ragle was attempting to renege on the plea bargain he made with prosecutors in the earlier case.

 

Ragle was arrested in November 2004, and charged with lewd acts with a child. He pleaded guilty two months later. At the time of the guilty plea, Ragle’s attorney, Charles Milor, told Associate District Judge Lee Card his client was pleading guilty in the case in exchange for a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office. The plea bargain, Milor said, included a 20-year prison sentence with 8 years suspended.

 

Ladd, then an assistant district attorney, prosecuted the case. He confirmed the plea bargain during Ragle’s hearing. Ladd told Card the case could have been expanded to include other charges but prosecutors had agreed not to pursue additional charges in exchange for Ragle’s guilty plea and the hefty prison sentence.

 

Ragle also spoke during the hearing, telling the judge he committed the crimes in order to gain sexual gratification. He also waived his right to a presentence investigation and Card sentenced him under the conditions of the plea bargain, telling Ragle he would spend the next 12 years in prison.

 

Friday Ladd said Ragle has broken the terms of the plea bargain.

 

“I learned earlier this month that Ragle is now attempting to withdraw his plea of guilty to the 2004 case,” Ladd said. “In my opinion, he has thus effectively withdrawn from our previous agreement and therefore, I am no longer obligated to refrain from prosecuting him for possession of child pornography.”

 

The original charge, which Ragle admitted he had committed, accused him of lewd acts against a child in his church office. The child’s father complained to church officials. Ragle was immediately terminated and church elders notified the Carter County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Although Ragle’s keys to the church were obtained by church elders at the time of his dismissal, less than 24 hours later it was discovered he had broken into his former office and removed a computer and other items. Carter County deputies recovered the computer after serving a search warrant at his residence. The computer was found hidden in one of Ragle’s own children’s bedrooms.

 

The new charges are based on what was found on Ragle’s office computer. The charges allege the computer contained images of “pre-pubescent children” performing sexual acts.

 

Both charges are felonies, and if convicted, Ragle faces punishment of not more than 20 years in prison per charge and fines of not more than $25,000 per charge.