Rape Charges Dismissed Against West Memphis Alderman and Minister

JULY 25, 2005 - Posted at 5:08 p.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - Rape charges against a West Memphis alderman and minister were formally dismissed today in Crittenden County Circuit Court.

The charges against the Reverend Herman Coleman were filed in January, amid allegations that he forced himself upon a woman, he was negotiating with in the purchase of a home.

Prosecutor Fred Thorne told K8 News that the woman responsible for the allegations against Coleman had decided not to pursue charges against him.  However, Thorne explained that her decision was not the only factor in his decision to dismiss the case.  He also cited DNA evidence, as well as taped phone conversations between the two since the initial allegations were made.

In an Order of Nol Prosequi filed with the Circuit Court Clerk, Thorne states:

"The DNA Report forwarded to the West Memphis Police Department and the Crittenden County Prosecutor's Office from the Arkansas State Crime Lab does substantiate the allegation by the victim that her and the Defendant engaged in sexual intercourse.

However, the victim has advised the Court that she no longer wants the State to pursue the matter,  which she would have to be subject to examination at trial.

Likewise, the Defendant and his attorney have provided tapes to the Crittenden County Prosecutor's Office in which they alleged the victim recants that she was forced to engage in sexual intercourse with the Defendant by force.  Although the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney advises the Court that he could not make out all of the conversation on the tapes, he was able to acknowledge that the victim readily talked to the Defendant about the incident and in several instances was joking with the Defendant.  The victim has advised the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney that is her voice on the tape and that she made such statements.

Based upon the above mentioned actions by the victim, the State believes that it is in the best interest of justice that the above mentioned charges against the Defendant by Nol Prosequi."

Coleman serves as pastor of the Unity Baptist Church in West Memphis, and also owns a local insurance business.