A Chicago-area Baptist minister has been convicted in a child sexual abuse case in Lake County, Illinois. He told the judge that God would punish those who bore “false witness” against him in a trial that resulted in him being sentenced to 18 years for aggravated criminal sexual abuse and predatory criminal sexual assault against an 11 year-old girl, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The minister had preached at Baptist churches in North Chicago and Zion. The victim testified that the minister had told her that whatever they did would stay between them and she did not come forward until 11 months later because she was scared and embarrassed. After the girl’s mother first confronted the minister about the assault, he swore on the bible that he didn’t abuse her.
The minister had signed a confession to the sexual assault at the Waukegan Police Department, but his defense attorney challenged the confession as the minister maintained his innocence. He never took the stand in his own defense, stating that he would rely on his faith to clear his name.
“I want this court to know when I am out, I will go back to trying to help people turn their life around,” the minister said before sentencing. “Whatever time is given to me, I will walk it upstandingly. I will walk it as God would have me.” He also prayed for mercy before the sentencing.
The assistant state’s attorney prosecuting the case noted that the defendant asked for mercy at at the time of sentencing, but at the same time he had taken no responsibility for his actions.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the minister had a criminal history from the late 60s and early 70s for charges related to being in possession of stolen checks. The charges were out of the State of California where he served 18 months.
The minister’s attorney plans to appeal the conviction, stating that since the time of his arrest he has been helping others and has been a good influence on other jail inmates in Lake County.
Sexual abuse of minors by religious figures is an all too common news story in Chicago. According to one study, the Tribune reports that more than half of Chicago’s Roman Catholic Parishes have been served by a priest credibly accused of sexually abusing a child. This abuse is not limited to any one denomination, however, and instances of abuse have spread across many faiths.
Illinois sex abuse lawyers at office currently represents several young men who were abused by a Catholic priest when they were minors.
Unfortunately, many of the abused never come forward and do not get the psychological help they need to properly deal with the traumatic event. Often victims suffer from depression, abuse drugs and alcohol, and they are more likely to attempt suicide. Nationally, almost half of all sex abuse victims are under the age of 18, and over 90% of minor victims know their abuser.
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Blog co-authored by Shane Nichols, a second year law student at the John Marshall Law School.