Cleveland Minister Hank Davis Gets Suspended Sentence

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Cleveland minister Henry Keith "Hank" Davis has entered a guilty plea on charges brought by a young female member of his congregation.

He plead guilty to simple assault in the appearance before Judge Rebecca Stern. Davis had been charged with sexual battery.

The pastor of the Church of the Harvest was given a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days. The minister was ordered not to have contact with girls under the age of 18.

Recently a young woman who is suing Rev. Davis for $1.5 million testified he had bitten her on the buttocks and thigh.

She was one of four witnesses in Hamilton County Criminal Court who were questioned about actions of Rev. Davis with them.

The other three girls indicated they were reluctant witnesses for the state and said they did not feel any of the contact by the minister was sexual in nature.

Judge Stern had ruled that the witnesses could not appear at a trial of Rev. Davis - except that one witness could tell what she knew about the case he is charged on.

The case had been dropped, then revived after the alleged victim changed her account of what happened. She is also suing the minister.

The alleged victim testified at an earlier hearing before Judge Stern that the incident happened after the minister found she had cigarettes with her and he chided her and began tusseling with her at a house where she was cleaning and doing laundry in Ooltewah. It was alleged that the minister touched the girl's breast area and bit her on the leg during the incident at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Moore.

Last July, prosecutors looked at the case and decided not to proceed after the 18-year-old girl wrote a letter to the court. The letter said, "All the complaints that I have made against Hank Davis are not true. Hank has never mistreated me nor touched me incorrectly."

Prosecutors said the girl later went back to her original account, saying she had been pressured into writing the letter. That prompted the district attorney's office to take the case to the Grand Jury.

Attorney Jim Logan said Mr. and Mrs. Moore were in the room when the alleged incident took place and are prepared to testify for the defense.

He said Rev. Davis and Mr. Moore had just returned from fishing, and the girl was there cleaning house for the Moores. He said the girl had grown up in the Davis church, where the Moores also attend.

The incident happened back on Feb. 5 when the Bradley County girl went to clean the Moore house on Bell Mill Road in Hamilton County.

The warrant said the pastor went to the home where the girl was cleaning house and doing laundry. It says he arrived about 1 p.m.

It was claimed that the girl was folding clothes by the couch in the living room when he "began to tickle her and took her to the floor by the arms.

"Victim says he climbed on top of her and put his knee on her chest area. Defendant began poking her breast area with his fingers and touching her breasts on top of the clothing.

"Defendant then rolled victim over on her right side, while tickling her on her inner thigh under her panty line.

"Defendant then bit her with his teeth on her right upper leg area, near her buttocks, leaving a bruise on the victim.

"He took his fist and started punching her on the leg area.

"The victim left the residence shortly after the incident took place, and she went back to Bradley County."

Authorities said the girl recorded a telephone conversation with the minister and the defendant "admitted biting her with his teeth, stating 'he had a big mouth.'"

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