“A 17-year-old Salem woman came forward to law enforcement Thursday alleging Chilton had been raping her since she was 12, according to the case’s probable cause report.”
SALEM, Missouri- The founder and director of a ministry purportedly dedicated to helping those suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems was arrested Friday for rape, according to documents filed in circuit court reports the Phelps County Focus.
Michael D. Chilton, 38, of Salem, is charged with two counts of first-degree statutory rape of a person less than 14 years old. He was incarcerated in the Dent County Jail on a $1 million cash only bond.
An investigation was conducted by the Salem Police Department with assistance from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Charges were filed after a probable cause report was sent to Dent County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Curley.
A 17-year-old Salem woman came forward to law enforcement Thursday alleging Chilton had been raping her since she was 12, according to the case’s probable cause report. A press release from the Salem Police Department today (Monday) claims another young female “came forward with similar allegations against Chilton.”
The 17-year-old told investigators the first incident occurred at Chilton’s church office, which at the time was located north of Salem on Highway 68. Thereafter, she claims over the next several years she was raped multiple times per week by Chilton at other locations in the Salem area.
The report details Chilton allegedly told the victim he was “teaching and educating” her and after completing different steps she’d one day be finished. The victim said she was scared of Chilton, and if she refused him he would become irrational and insult her. She further alleges Chilton would coerce her in various ways, and as an example said sometimes he seized her cell phone and forced her to engage in sexual activities to get it back. The victim additionally claims at one point she and another girl were forced to engage in activities simultaneously with Chilton.
Chilton is alleged to have also used coded text messages in referring to the incidents as “one-on-one conversations” and later simply “one.” A search of his cell phone by law enforcement indicated text messages existed corresponding to the victim’s claims. A search of a location where incidents are alleged to have occurred also indicated the presence of semen.
When interviewed by detectives Thursday, Chilton denied the allegations and requested an attorney.
Chilton is founder of Walk by Faith Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit organization which operated a facility in Rolla from 2016 until earlier this year. It was located in an old church building in Rolla at 101 North Rucker Street. Literature from Walk by Faith Ministries details those suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues were invited to live there for up to one year while completing graduating steps of its program. The site is abandoned and has a public nuisance violation posted to its front door.
Chilton claimed to have received clients off the street or as referrals from probation officers and courts in a story published in the Feb. 22 edition of Phelps County Focus. Residents may recall crossing paths with individuals affiliated with Walk by Faith Ministries as they frequently requested donations at tables set up outside local supermarkets, the Phelps County Focus explained.
Major Jim Macormic of the Rolla Police Department reported to Phelps County Focus Monday that Chilton was previously under investigation in Rolla for personal property disputes brought by former Walk by Faith clients but nothing of a sexual nature has been alleged.
Walk by Faith Ministries relocated to Salem earlier this year and operated in part from the old Brickhouse Grill building located at 1 South Main Street. The Salem Police Department reports an investigation into Chilton’s activities is currently ongoing.
The Dent County case against Chilton is due for arraignment in circuit court July 12.