PRINCETON — A man facing charges including incest, sexual assault and sexual abuse involving a female juvenile waived his right Friday to a preliminary hearing in Mercer County Magistrate Court.

James Lilly, 24, of Bluefield has been charged with one count of incest, one count of second-degree sexual assault and 31 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, Detective K.L. Adams, with the Bluefield Police Department, said after Lilly was arrested on Jan. 12.

Lilly is currently free on a $125,000 cash, surety or property bond of 10 percent, according to records at the Mercer County Magistrate Clerk's Office. He was scheduled Friday for a preliminary hearing before Magistrate James Dent. On Friday afternoon, Dent was notified that Lilly had waived the preliminary hearing. The case will go before the Mercer County Grand Jury.

Lilly, by his own admission, is transgender and in the process of becoming a woman, Adams said at the time of the arrest.

Lilly once served with youth ministry at the Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield.   

“James was here for six months. He had hired him with a grant from the Diocese of West Virginia,” Rector Chad Slater said Friday. “He was highly recommended. His position ended Sept. 15, 2015 because the grant had run out and we had decided not to extend that. One factor was the money, and I guess the other prevailing factor was he really wasn’t doing a whole lot.”

The amount of service Lilly performed at the church gradually declined, Slater said.

“When he started in his position, he was very actively engaged, but he seemed to sort of trail off and was not terribly organized, so we just decided not to continue that relationship,” he stated.

Slater said there had not been any complaints at the church and there had not been any allegations of misconduct. Slater said he did not know at that time that Lilly was transgender.

“That was something I had not known until James was not employed. I would not have disclosed that because it was not pertinent to the investigation and it would have violated pastoral relationship. The fact he was at the church was really incidental. Nothing happened at the church and none of the victims were at the church,” Slater said.

The alleged victim told investigators that Lilly started sexually abusing her when she was 9 to 10 years old, and that the abuse continued until she was 16, Adams said in his report. The alleged abuse occurred at a home and not in a church. The female juvenile said she thought nobody would believe her, but decided to come forward after learning that Lilly pursuing a teaching career and student teaching at a school. The principal at Bluefield Intermediate School said Lilly was a student observer in 2015, but had little interaction with the students.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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