Appeals court upholds molesting conviction of Hammond

1996-03-24T00:00:00Z Appeals court upholds molesting conviction of HammondThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 24, 1996 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a

Baptist deacon from Hammond who was sentenced to five years in prison for

molesting a 7-year-old girl.

The court on Friday unanimously rejected the latest attempt to keep A.V.

Ballenger, 60, out of prison. Since his 1993 conviction, the First Baptist

Church of Hammond deacon has remained free on an appeal bond.

"We were disappointed," said Ballenger's attorney, James E. Foster. "Now,

(Ballenger) has got to make some personal and financial decisions."

Foster said obligatory appeals for a rehearing and transfer to the Indiana

Supreme Court will be filed in the next two or three weeks.

The appellate court in its 11-page ruling summarily dismissed all five

grounds offered in Ballenger's appeal, including allegations of juror

misconduct and charges that the trial judge, Lake Criminal Court Judge Richard

Conroy, erred by allowing witnesses to make accusations of prior sexual


Ballenger, a Hammond steelworker, was convicted March 26, 1993, of fondling

a girl in a Sunday School class in the summer of 1991 at First Baptist Church

of Hammond, 523 Sibley St. Ballenger, who was a church deacon at the time, has

continually denied any wrongdoing.

Just before he was sentenced in 1993, Ballenger told the court, "Even if I

touched that little girl accidentally, there was no criminal intent. I wish I

could take my mind out, my heart out and let you have a look at it."

Although Ballenger was found guilty in only one case of child molesting,

three additional women testified in 1993 during Ballenger's sentencing hearing

that he also had molested them as children. Indiana law prevented the women

from testifying during the trial because Ballenger was not charged with

molesting them.

Ballenger was sentenced to five years in prison July 2, 1993, by Conroy.

It was not clear Friday when Ballenger must report to prison.

Five years have passed since charges of sexual abuse against Ballenger were

first made. The allegations rocked the church and led to the ostracism of some


Telephone calls to First Baptist went unanswered Saturday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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