As rumors of FBI checks into old Northwest child abuse claims roam the Internet as part of the Sandra Cantu murder investigation, a relative of Pastor Lane Lawless says that he and his wife, Connie, remain strong in their faith in God.

Rev. DeWayne Harris of Salinas said Monday that his sister Connie and his brother-in-law — grandparents of murder suspect Melissa Huckaby — are in Southern California trying to relax while the media frenzy surrounding their Tracy church continues. During the initial police investigation, before Huckaby was arrested in the killing of the 8-year-old, their Clover Road Baptist Church and nearby mobile home were searched multiple times.

“If our faith is not going to get us through this, it isn’t worth it. If your faith doesn’t take you through the worst of times, it is not worth having,” said Harris, pastor of Alisal Baptist Church.

Recent news reports claim the FBI is checking allegations made in the ’80s when Lawless was pastor of a church near the Idaho/Washington border — accusations Harris vigorously denies.

Harris says Lawless was never a pastor in the Northwest, but did serve in Redding and Gardenia in the 1970s before becoming a field missionary in Eureka. He then was pastor of a Mountain View church before coming to Tracy.
Harris said he has a brotherly relationship with Lawless and that they met while growing up in Brewster, Wash. Harris, a fifth-generation pastor, described Lawless as loving, giving, humble, honest and trustworthy.

“They are turning over every rock to find something on Lane and they aren’t going to find anything. All you have to do is talk to someone who knows him,” said Harris. “He is what you would think a gentleman would be and he is very unassuming. “

One Clover Road parishioner reached out to another Baptist pastor in Tracy requesting prayers to help the small church survive this ordeal. Harris confirmed Monday that the Tracy church will not close its doors.

“You don’t shut a church down because there is bad press or speculation. All through the centuries, the Lord’s’ church has suffered because of false accusations,” he said..

Pastor Willie Gonzalez of Valley Community Baptist Church in Tracy said local faith community leaders are concerned about Pastor Lawless’ well being and his ministry and will reach out to them in addition to helping the Cantu family.

“The Christian community is one. The fact that they hurt, we hurt,” Gonzalez said.

The national media spotlight has taken its toll on the Lawless family and their reputation, Harris said, adding that he thinks his niece is innocent.

“That is why we have the court system,” he said. “I have been praying for the investigators, lawyers and judges that they will have divine leadership in this.”

They believe she is innocent!! Even after there are new claims of abuse. Even after Sandra was found in her suitcase. Am I the only person who was told that if I embarrassed the family by going to jail that I would be staying there.