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Ex-church vicar pleads innocent to sex charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A former church vicar in Topeka pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting two young brothers.

Thirty-two-year-old Hugh Denton Cranford, a former vicar at Faith Lutheran Church, will be tried starting May 6 on three charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child younger than 14.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/Un5i92 ) Cranford, a native of Kingwood, Texas, pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

The mother of the two boys, who are now 7 and 9, testified that her husband and Cranford were friends and the family attended Faith Lutheran. She said her sons played with Cranford and he stayed overnight in their home.

Cranford, a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, began his vicarage at Faith Lutheran in July 2011. He was suspended by the seminary in June 2012.