VALDOSTA -- A man charged with molesting four boys in his care at a local children's home was freed Wednesday on $100,000 bond.
Larry Clarke, a former house parent at Raintree Village, is charged with nine counts of child molestation on Feb. 27. He remained in the Lowndes County Jail until businessman James C. McMullen Sr. posted bond after offering testimony on behalf of Clarke at a bond hearing.
Charlie Wetherington called seven character witnesses who all said they never witnessed Clarke, who is a deacon at the Lake Park Church of Christ, involved in inappropriate behavior, discussions or actions. Among the people were a former house parent from Raintree Village, an elder from Lake Park Church Of Christ, and three other members from his church.
When Wetherington called his final witness, McMullen, he asked the judge to allow the people who were gathered in the hallway to enter on Clarke's behalf. With the three rows of gallery seats filled with his supporters, another 27 filed into room while others remained in the hallway.
During his final statement, Wetherington told the judge he had never seen that many people attend a bond hearing, especially during spring break.
Lowndes County Sheriff's Office Detective Alicia Brantley said the case on Clarke opened October 2003 when an 18-year-old victim came forward. Brantley said the victim had been at Raintree Village where he said he was repeatedly molested by Clarke. She said since that time, at least 30 other boys who were in the Clarke's cottage have been interviewed. She said the most recent allegation of molestation came this week from a victim who contacted their office.
Brantley said she felt Clarke should remain in jail because he could find the four victims, all men in their late teens, through his contacts at Raintree Village and the Department of Family and Children Services. She said all four victims are still in the area, but not at Raintree Village.
Clarke is not allowed on the premises of Raintree Village, is not allowed to contact the victims and is not allowed to be with children under 15 other than his family members as part of the conditions of his bond.
Raintree Village is a nonprofit children's home located off U.S. Highway 41 South in Dasher. It is supported by the Churches of Christ.
To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, call 244-3400, ext. 239.