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Eldest member of Mohler family released on own recognizance

Friday, February 17, 2012 | 1:42 p.m. CST

LIBERTY — The patriarch of a family accused in a western Missouri sex crimes case was ordered released on his own recognizance Friday, pending his trial on charges that he molested young relatives three decades ago.

A judge released Burrell Mohler Sr., 79, on an own recognizance bond, which obligates him to show up for further court proceedings. It will be the first time Mohler has been free since November 2009, when he and four of his sons were accused of sexually assaulting young girls for several years at the family's rural farm.

Mohler's attorney, Kimberly Benjamin, argued that he has been "rotting in jail" with serious health issues while his trial continues to be delayed.

Clay County Judge Larry Harman was scheduled later Friday to hear motions to dismiss the case of David Mohler, one of the four sons also accused of sexually abusing young family members in the 1980s.

Delays in the case were caused by defense requests for medical and mental health records from the accusers, Lafayette County prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell said.

David Mohler's attorney, George Jones of Lamoni, Iowa, has argued that it was unfair his client's trial has been repeatedly pushed back because of discovery issues. Late last year, Jones wrote in a motion that his client couldn't get a job because of the charges against him, doesn't have any money because of mounting attorney fees and has been targeted by fliers mailed to his neighbors telling them to beware of the molester in their midst.

David Mohler, 54, had been charged with two counts of forcible rape. His father, Burrell Mohler Sr., and brothers Burrell Jr., Jared and Roland are still facing dozens of charges related to claims by four young relatives that the older men frequently raped them at a Lafayette County farm.

The five Mohlers were charged more than a year after six siblings told authorities they had been abused over several years by their older relatives on a farm south of Bates City, about 30 miles east of Kansas City. A sixth man, Darrel Mohler, who was Burrell Mohler Sr.'s brother, also was charged, but he died in September at his home in Florida while free on bond.

While court documents detail claims that six siblings were abused by the Mohler men, only four of the alleged victims are involved in the criminal cases. Their claims include that the men took turns raping them over several years, including some assaults that happened after Burrell Sr., an ordained minister, conducted wedding ceremonies to "marry" the young girls to the older Mohler men so they could have sex.

There are also claims that some of the girls were forced to have sex with animals. Some of the siblings told authorities people were murdered on the farm, but no bodies have been found, and no charges were filed regarding those claims.

The accusers said the abuse started when they were very young, in some cases as young as 5 years old, and they had repressed the memories for more than 20 years.

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