- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2007

LEESBURG, Va. — Women from across the country have stepped forward with charges of sexual misconduct against a prominent civil rights leader who has been charged with having sexual relations with a teenage relative in the 1990s, a prosecutor said yesterday.

The Rev. James L. Bevel, 70, who once worked closely with Martin Luther King and later joined political maverick Lyndon LaRouche as his vice-presidential candidate in 1992, was charged last week with incest — a felony in Virginia punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Since his arrest, Loudoun County prosecutors “are getting calls from people all over the country saying the defendant engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct,” prosecutor Gigi Lawless said at a bail hearing yesterday.

The calls to prosecutors since Mr. Bevel’s arrest involve women unrelated to him, she said.

Miss Lawless told the judge that the relative later confronted Mr. Bevel in a taped conversation. He acknowledged the sex but chastised her “for believing it was something other than religious training,” Miss Lawless said.

Miss Lawless argued unsuccessfully that Mr. Bevel should be denied bail while he awaits trial, saying he poses a danger to the community.

But Circuit Judge James H. Chamblin set a $30,000 bond with the conditions that Mr. Bevel avoid contact with children and that he temporarily move from his Alabama home to the District, where family friends have agreed to serve as his custodian.

Mr. Bevel did not speak during yesterday’s hearing, and his wife, Erica Henry, declined comment.

Defense attorney Buta Biberaj said Mr. Bevel will plead not guilty, but declined to discuss the charges in any detail.

“Right now, these are only accusations, allegations,” Mr. Biberaj said.

Mr. Bevel has not been arrested in nearly 40 years, Mr. Biberaj said. His criminal record consists of contempt of court citations and other charges associated with his desegregation efforts and protests during the civil rights movement, Mr. Biberaj said.

Mr. Bevel, who worked with King and witnessed his assassination in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968, has played a key role in some of the country’s major civil rights protests.

He organized the 1963 Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Ala., and was a leader of the Freedom Rides to desegregate public accommodations throughout the South in the early 1960s.

In addition, he was an architect of the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma-to-Montgomery march in Alabama in 1965.

News articles from Nation of Islam publications also credit Mr. Bevel as a chief organizer of the Million Man March in 1995.

At the time, Mr. Bevel was Mr. LaRouche’s running mate, Mr. LaRouche was serving a federal prison sentence for conspiracy and mail fraud.

It is not clear whether Mr. Bevel is still associated with Mr. LaRouche’s organization, which is based in Loudoun County. A call to Mr. LaRouche’s Schiller Institute was not returned yesterday.

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