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"I can always practice law, and I am," Slaten replies. "But it's a little different, because there you have a judge telling you what you can and can't say!"
Slaten and his girlfriend of three years, a teacher in the Francis Howell School District, take their usual seats: fifth-row center. The sanctuary lights dim, the 37-piece musical ensemble is cued, and two large video screens illuminate:
"Evangelize the Unbeliever, Strengthen the Believer."
It is nearly 30 minutes before the foot-tapping, finger-snapping succession of Christian songs ends and the preaching begins. The minister, with whom Slaten says he developed a strong bond, has recently relocated to Kansas City. A pastor from Jefferson City is filling in.
The day's lesson will come from the New Testament, specifically from Paul of Tarsus' letter to Philemon, a slave-owner in Colossae, asking him to forgive Onesimus, believed to be a runaway slave.
Paul says Onesimus deserves Philemon's forgiveness because the slave has accepted Christ as his savior.
"We're going to talk about dealing with your past, coming unchained from the shackles of your past," says the preacher. "We all have one.
"Whatever person denies his past is stepping into a future that is scarred forever," the preacher adds.
In the course of the sermon, the pastor asserts that the acts of "cursing," "nursing" or "rehearsing" the past lead to bitterness in our hearts, prolongation of our sins and paralysis in our souls. The best way to deal with the past is to "reverse it": by letting Christ into one's life.
Further, we must ask for forgiveness from those we have enraged and upon whom we have committed sins, the pastor instructs.
"God does change us, from the inside out," he promises. "He allows us to have peace within."
Afterward Slaten laments the departure of the former pastor, and the fact that a new one probably won't be appointed for at least another month.
"I was just saying earlier this morning I could've made that decision in two weeks!" says Slaten, with a laugh.
"Pretty good, though, huh?" he adds.
Slaten appears to have no difficulty unshackling himself from his past. One also gets the sense that he'd just as soon deny it. Many who know him are unaware that he has been married more than once.
"He'll get mad at me for saying this," observes friend Bob Ramsey, "but I wish he made better choices with women.
"His current significant other is a terrific gal," Ramsey goes on, echoing a sentiment shared by other Slaten confidants, "so I would want to make sure that's clear that I don't mean her. But he attracts — or is attracted to — trouble when it comes to females."
Asked to clarify Ramsey says, "For example, if a couple guys were sitting around talking about it, they'd say, 'This girl's crazy.' The relationships are volatile. Drama ensues."
Some of that very volatility has found its way into the public record.
Back in 1992 Slaten was arrested for second-degree assault after his Mitsubishi 3000 GT collided with a Frontenac man's Ford Bronco outside the old arena late one evening after a St. Louis Blues hockey game. Slaten punched the man and his girlfriend, temporarily blinding the man in one eye.
"The state was recommending five years in prison," recalls attorney Paul D'Agrosa, who defended the radio host in the ensuing criminal trial. "And Kevin was very worried — which he ought to have been."
St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Mike Calvin found Slaten guilty and imposed a suspended sentence and two years' probation.
"He's a big guy, and he squeezed me and hugged me very hard after the case was over," says D'Agrosa. "Later he was very close to having his probation revoked and going to jail a couple times, but I bailed him out." (Following a stern lecture on second chances from Judge Calvin, D'Agrosa says, Slaten successfully completed his probation in 1995.)
The incident also resulted in a $90,000 civil judgment, and it cost Slaten his law license for a while, too. In 1996 the Missouri Supreme Court suspended him from the bar for four years.
Mike Claiborne, a former Bottom Line co-host, recalls that Slaten carried his head high after the debacle. "Some people would be convicted of a crime and become a recluse," says Claiborne, who now works at rival KTRS and speaks of Slaten in restrained terms. "That's not Kevin. He's going to live his life and move right on."
But seven years later, in 2003, when Slaten applied for reinstatement, his dirty laundry received a thorough airing at the hands of the Supreme Court's Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel.
Officials inquired into a January 2002 incident involving an ex-girlfriend, in which he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and disturbing the peace. In July of that year, with his friend Chet Pleban representing him, Slaten had pled guilty to both counts and received a suspended sentence and two years' probation. In interviewing Slaten, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel's Office found that his account of the incident differed from the police department's. As a result, the agency requested that Slaten undergo psychological counseling in order to have an independent opinion of his "potential alcoholic consumption and violence issues."
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