Dallas Hamilton's perfect world is torn apart when her husband, a rising superstar in the evangelical world, is arrested for the murder of a porn star.
Murder, betrayal, and a trial that feeds a media frenzy.
Can one woman stand against the forces that threaten to tear her family apart?
Pastor Ron Hamilton's star is rising. His 8,000-strong church is thriving. His good looks and charisma make him an exceptional speaker on family values. And his book on pornography in the church has become an unexpected bestseller. Everything is perfect.
Until a young woman's body is discovered in a seedy motel room. The woman is a porn star. And all the evidence in the murder points to one man: Ron.
With the noose tightening around her husband's neck, Dallas Hamilton faces a choice: believe the seemingly irrefutable facts--or the voice of her heart. The press has already reached its verdict, and the public echoes it. But Dallas is determined to do whatever it takes to find the truth.
And then a dark secret from Dallas's past threatens to take them all down.
As the clock ticks toward Ron's conviction and imprisonment, and an underworld of evil encircles her, Dallas must gather all her trust in God to discover what really happened in that motel room . . . even if it means losing faith in her husband forever.
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March 31, 2006
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Excerpt from Presumed Guilty by James S. Bell
Presumed Guilty Copyright � 2006 by James Scott Bell Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bell, James Scott. Presumed guilty / by James Scott Bell. p. cm. ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25331-0 ISBN-10: 0-310-25331-4 1. Evangelists - Fiction. I. Title. PS3552.E5158P74 2006 813'.54 - dc22 2005031942 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version�. NIV�. Copyright � 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Interior design by Beth Shagene Printed in the United States of America We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about this book to us in care of firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Prologue My life is marked by contrasts - then and now, light and darkness. Heaven and hell. Marked too by memory. I remember the exact moment it started. In fact, in a perverse recollection of detail, I even know what I was wearing - Dockers slacks and a blue golf shirt with the Wailea Emerald Course logo on it. My shoes were the brown slip-ons my wife had bought for me online a couple of months earlier. No socks. I was in my office, looking out the window at the stunning view of the valley. The church occupied twenty of the most valuable acres in Southern California, prime property we bought when we outgrew our smaller space in Northridge ten years before. And I can remember my thought patterns that day, leading up to the moment she walked in. I was thinking of Moses, another mountaintop man, and how his human frailty kept him from the Promised Land. He struck the rock, and water flowed, but he had disobeyed God. As I was about to do. And that is why I am here. A jail cell is smaller than it looks in some old James Cagney movie. When you're in one it doesn't seem possible for life to continue, for the paper-thin fragility that is human existence to sustain itself. But since my life has ceased to exist, I suppose nothing is lost. Do I suppose I can regain my life by writing down these confessions? Or am I writing just so I can eventually place another volume on my shelf? Yes, even within these walls, my ambition bares its teeth and grinds through the lining of my guilt. Maybe that's why I'm here. Maybe that's why God put me here after all. Maybe that's why I did the unthinkable. Unthinkable, at least, if you were to look at me ten years ago. Even five. Then you would have seen a star. Not a comet, flaming out, a fading tail of cosmic dust in its wake. No, a real star set in the evangelical heavenlies. Then I fell, let it all slip away, that day in my office overlooking the valley. How did it happen? All I know is that, somehow, it began. It began with a plea. Part I Other men's sins are before our eyes; our own are behind our back. Seneca 1. "Help me. Please." A note of hopelessness vibrated under the girl's voice, a soft trilling like a night bird's cry. Ron Hamilton felt it in his chest - an electric snap, a static in the heart. "I'll do anything I can," he told the girl. She must have been