Walker L. Railey, the once-prominent Dallas minister and Los Angeles church executive acquitted of trying to murder his wife after a sensational Texas trial last spring, has hit the lecture circuit here.
Railey was applauded Wednesday by a group of clergy members in Reseda after telling them that religious leaders are losing public respect because of scandals like the one that engulfed him after his wife was choked nearly to death in their Dallas garage in 1987.
"Every time a religious scandal hits the headlines, the stock of clergy goes down. With the stories about Jimmy Swaggart and Walker Railey . . . many lay people across the nation begin to wonder whether rabbis and pastors are ever faithful to their spouses at all," he said during his talk, which was unpaid.
Once the high-profile senior pastor of Dallas' prestigious First United Methodist Church, Railey, 46, was accused of trying to strangle his wife, Margaret (Peggy) Railey, so he could join his lover, former Dallas psychologist Lucy Papillon, in California.
Margaret Railey was left for dead in the couple's Dallas garage and remains in a coma at a Tyler, Tex., nursing home. After the attack, Walker Railey resigned from the ministry.
Railey later moved to Los Angeles and got a job as executive administrator of Immanuel Presbyterian Church. He was arrested last year--nearly six years after the crime--when Texas prosecutors said they had developed new evidence.
Word of his indictment polarized the Mid-Wilshire congregation, with some church members departing in anger and Railey losing his job. He now lives in Silver Lake and says he has been giving talks to small groups in Los Angeles.
Railey showed his old flair for preaching Wednesday as he spoke at a nursing home before about 35 members of the Clergy Network, a San Fernando Valley-based group.
Saying that clergy members live in glass houses, he urged them to be careful when counseling "the wicked woman of the parish" or even driving children home because such actions could be misinterpreted.