A local pastor accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl to whom police said he continued to send text messages after the victim's parents confronted him collapsed during a court hearing Monday.
Bradford Ford, the 46-year-old pastor of A Love for God Ministry, faces charges of statutory rape, child molestation and other sex-related offenses stemming from a series of incidents spanning the past six months, investigators said.
The girl's mother reported the allegations the morning of Jan. 3, after she found inappropriate text messages Ford had sent to her daughter's cellphone, police said. Further investigation revealed Ford had sex with the girl in her home and in a motel room he rented, they said.
During Ford's preliminary hearing Monday in Columbus Recorder's Court, authorities said that even after the girl's mother and stepfather told Ford to have no further contact with the daughter, he continued to send texts telling her he loved her and asking whether she was OK.
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As the charges against Ford were read aloud during the hearing, he fell to the floor and lay still for about five minutes as officers surrounded him. They eventually helped him to his feet and led him back into the jail.
Ford's public defender pleaded not guilty to the charges for him. Ford did not speak during the hearing. The judge found probable cause to forward the case to Muscogee Superior Court, ordering that Ford be held without bond. The jail would not comment on Ford's medical condition.
Phone calls to A Love for God Ministry got Ford's voicemail. An online search for the church produced a variety of different addresses.