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Ex-Army private implicated in rape, killings has church ties


On a Sunday afternoon in March 2005, 166 soldiers gathered for a worship service at Soldiers Chapel at Fort Benning, Ga. After Church of Christ minister Ben Overby’s sermon that day, eight young men accepted the invitation and were baptized for remission of sins. Among those baptized: a private from Denver City, Texas, named Steven Green. “Steven came into the Army already having experienced a bit of trouble in his life, and like so many other men, was searching,” said Overby, whose ministry baptized close to 700 soldiers in the last three years. Now, Green finds himself at the center of an international scandal: He’s charged with raping a young Iraqi woman and killing her family on or about March 12, 2006 – almost exactly a year after his baptism.
“Obviously, his life now lies in ruins – four innocent people are dead in Iraq, two of Steven’s friends were kidnapped and killed in apparent retaliation, and now he sits alone in a federal prison in Louisville, Ky.,” Overby said in an e-mail to his ministry’s supporters. “So, all I ask is that we pray for everyone who has been affected by this awful crime, and we pray for this troubled brother in Christ.”
The 21-year-old could get the death penalty if convicted in a horrific crime that has strained the U.S. military’s already troubled relations with the Iraqi people and sent shock waves around the world, according to The Associated Press.
Green, 21, entered a plea of not guilty through his public defenders Thursday, AP reported. According to a federal affidavit, Green and other soldiers targeted the young Iraqi woman after spotting her at a traffic checkpoint near Mahmoudiya. He was discharged from the Army in mid-May because of an “anti-social personality disorder,” according to military officials and court documents.
Overby, who served as family minister at the Chattahoochee Valley church in Columbus, Ga., before he started preaching at Fort Benning, said he has no clear memory of Green. But Overby said he feels a responsibility to minister to Green since he “invited him to step into the kingdom.”
Overby said he was working Friday to find a minister in Kentucky to visit Green and “minister to his broken soul.”
“Any of us who’ve served murderers in prison before know that just as God’s grace reached King David, His mercy can reach any of us as well,” Overby wrote in his e-mail. “I pray that if all things are as they would appear, God’s grace brings him godly sorrow, and back to the foot of the cross of our blessed Savior.”
July 7, 2006
PHOTO CAPTION: Steven Green is shown here moments after his baptism last year at Fort Bennig, Ga. (photo courtesy of Ben Overby)

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