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East Tennessee Pastor Cleared in Snake Case

East Tennessee Pastor Cleared in Snake Case

CREATED Jan 8, 2014

JACKSBORO, Tenn. (AP) - An East Tennessee grand jury has cleared a pastor who has appeared on a reality television show about snake handling in church of possessing venomous snakes.

Campbell County pastor Andrew Hamblin of Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette was cited Nov. 7 and pleaded not guilty. But the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1krpnHO ) reports a grand jury on Wednesday exonerated the 22-year-old pastor.

Prosecutor Lori Phillips Jones said officials didn't see the matter as a religious freedom case but public safety. She said she respects the grand jury's decision.

Hamblin has appeared on the National Geographic show "Snake Salvation."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.