Fugitive wanted for 20 years on sex crimes turns up as pastor in Alabama, cops say

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Larry Albert Flake was convicted in 2001 on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. A judge in Indiana sentenced him to 25 years in prison, but by that point it was too late.

Flake was on the run.

More than 20 years later, police found him three states away working as a minister at a Baptist church under the name Larry White, according to law enforcement and local media reports.

The 75-year-old was arrested Nov. 19 in Birmingham on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, the Richmond Police Department in Indiana said in a news release.

Flake had worked as the minister of music at Evergreen True House of Prayer MBC in Birmingham for 10 years prior to his arrest, WBRC reported.

True House of Prayer Pastor Willie Perry told WVTM that Flake — who everyone knew as the Rev. Lawrence White — had become “part of this family.” But Perry said he never really got to know him.

“When people are on the run, they only allow you to know so much about them,” Perry told the TV station. “Because if they allow you to go too deep, or they go too deep, you’re going to find out who they are.”

Richmond police said Flake was convicted on Aug. 30, 2001, on charges related to an incident from 1999.

A 15-year-old girl accused him of grabbing and raping her after she left her apartment to see some friends, the Birmingham News reported.

Tests confirmed biological evidence recovered from the girl belonged to Flake and she picked him out of a photo lineup,” the newspaper said.

Court records filed in Wayne County Circuit Court show Flake was charged in January 2000 and his bond was initially set at $100,000. A judge later lowered it to $50,000, and Flake was released on the condition that he have no contact with the victim.

The case went to trial on Aug. 30, 2001, and a jury found him guilty on two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, court filings show. The judge declared a mistrial on a third count for rape and set sentencing for a few weeks later.

In a docket entry from the same day, the judge upped Flake’s bail to $250,000 for failure to appear.

Three weeks later, Flake was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the sexual misconduct charge and an additional 15 years as a habitual offender, court documents show.

It wasn’t until December 2003 that Flake was charged by criminal complaint in the Southern District of Indiana with unlawful flight to avoid felony prosecution. A special agent with the FBI wrote in an accompanying affidavit that Flake told his bond agency during the initial stages of the case that he lived in Michigan and provided a Detroit address.

The agency, Randy Hughey Bonding Agency, began investigating Flake’s whereabouts after he failed to show at the court, the agent said.

Flake’s family members reportedly told Hughey that he came back to the Detroit area in August 2001. But no one in Indianapolis had seen him since 2000, according to the affidavit.

“Relatives have told Hughey they believe Flake is not in Indiana. Other relatives have told Hughey that they do not know where Flake may be found,” the FBI agent said. “From additional interviews conducted during his investigation, Hughey learned that Flake was seen in Indianapolis in or about February 2003 as he was traveling from Michigan to Mississippi.”

The case went stale until earlier this year, when the Richmond Police Department and FBI field office in Indianapolis received a tip in January.

“Without the new lead and the collaboration with the FBI Indianapolis and Birmingham field offices as well as the Birmingham Police Department, Larry Flake would not have been captured, which gives closure to this twenty year old case,” Richmond police said in the release.

Perry, the pastor at the Birmingham church where Flake worked, said Flake didn’t abuse “any little one in this congregation.”

“I would say to my congregation I am so sorry that you had to wake up Monday to this kind of thing,” Perry told WVTM. “I pray to God, that I don’t care how long God keep me here or replace me with somebody else, don’t you ever, don’t ever let anybody misuse you. And I pray that you forgive me, that my congregation forgive me, that God will forgive me.”

For Flake, he had a different message.

“I would say to Rev. White I love you, I will pray for you, but I am glad that you have been caught,” Perry said. “You won’t get the chance to do this anymore.”

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