Minister's death was self-inflicted

Investigators: Evidence against John Graler 'irrefutable'

The death of an accused youth minister has been ruled a suicide, the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and Craig Police Department reported Thursday afternoon.

John C. Graler, who was accused of sexually assaulting two females in his youth group at First Christian Church, was found dead Tuesday evening in his home on Moffat County Road 35.

Asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning is listed as the cause of death, Thursday's report indicates.

Authorities reached the conclusion after receiving results from a toxicology report, conducting a forensic examination of evidence and consulting with county coroner Owen Grant.

Graler was arrested Monday on suspicion of sexual assault, sexual assault on a child and sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust. His alleged victims were between 13 and 18 years old, investigators said.

Graler was released Monday evening after posting $50,000 bond.

Formal charges had not been filed against him.

Although the case against Graler most likely won't ever be heard in court, investigators said there was ample evidence pending against him.

"At the time of Mr. Graler's death, the investigation had developed substantial physical and testimonial evidence to support the allegations against (him)," the statement reads.

It adds that "investigators are confident that the evidence collected and information gathered during the course of the investigation would have proved to be irrefutable if the criminal case had been filed by the district attorney's office and tried in a court of law."

K.C. Hume, a Moffat County Sheriff's Office investigator, said he could not comment on whether Graler left a note, or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of death. He also said he didn't know whether evidence obtained during the investigation into Graler would ever be made public.

He said investigators are still pursuing some aspects of the case.

"We continue to follow up on information which may or may not lead to other victims," Hume said.

Graler had been a youth minister at First Christian Church since 2000.

Graler's funeral will take place Sunday at First Christian Church (see obits, page 5). Church spokesman Doug Field said the church has no apprehensions about hosting the late minister's memorial service.

"There was no debate," he said. "We're reaching out to (Graler's family) and the members of our congregation."

He also said the church wasn't concerned about any possible liability issues from Graler's alleged victims.

"We don't have any concerns about it," he said. "We know God will get us through this and whatever else happens."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.