BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) -- Nearly two dozen people filled a Brunswick County courtroom today trying to make the case that a minister charged with sex crimes involving a child two decades ago should be let out of jail.
Friends and family of Joseph Robert Hall showed up hoping to see his $1.2 million bond reduced.
"We have allegations by the victim. We have a confession that is recorded by the defendant indicating that he did in fact have a sexual relationship, at least in his own words," Assistant District Attorney Chris Thompson said.
Hall is charged with four counts of indecent liberties and 11 counts of statutory sex offense in Brunswick County.
Thompson said Hall had sexual relations with the victim beginning when she was 12 years old in 1994, but Thompson said Hall claimed nothing happened until he considered her age appropriate when she turned 14.
"He was able to gain access to her through church association, as well as an affair he was having with the victim's mother at the time," Thompson said.
Hall now lives in Gaston County, where he is the ministry leader of a men's group. Twenty-three relatives and friends filled the court room to support reducing his bond. The defense argued hall has no intentions of missing his next court date, and he needs to be closer to his attorney.
"Am I right? Will the church ensure that he will return?" defense attorney Arcangela Mazzariello asked the friends and family in the courtroom, who answered affirmatively. "He will return."
After hearing both sides the judge made the final decision based on the nature of the allegations.
"The court respectfully declines to reduce the bond," Judge Ola Lewis said.
Lewis also ruled Hall cannot have any contact with the victim and cannot be around anyone under the age of 18.