ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, an update of the story we reported last December. Prosecutors in Missouri yesterday dropped child sexual abuse charges against the leaders of a small church in the Ozarks a week before they were due to go on trial. The allegations against the Reverend Raymond Lambert, his wife Patty, and their sister-in-law, Laura Epling, received widespread publicity.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

All three had denied the charges. Reverend Lambert was the pastor of Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church. Prosecutors confirmed the charges were dropped, but did not provide further details. A defense lawyer said the charges were dropped because two of the women who made the allegations stopped cooperating with the prosecution. The defense lawyer also said national publicity about the case ruined the standing of his clients.

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