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Judge’s Severe Comments During Youth Pastor’s Trial Ruled Insufficient Grounds to Reverse Conviction
Key point. Harsh rhetoric employed by trial judges in condemning the behavior of child molesters does not necessarily constitute grounds for reversing a conviction.

An Illinois appeals court ruled that a trial judge's harsh comments to a jury concerning child molesters in the prosecution of a youth pastor who had sexually molested minors in his church was not grounds for a reduced sentence or new trial. A church's youth pastor (the "defendant") sexually assaulted two adolescent boys while they were spending the night in the church's parsonage. The defendant allowed his victims to spend the night with him in his house, which was property owned by the church. He proceeded to perform sexual acts on them in that house before taking them to church the next morning. The defendant admitted that "in both cases I destroyed their trust and friendship and broke the promises that I made to them, their families, the church, the community and to my friends and family." The defendant apologized profusely to the victims, their families, his former congregation, members of the community, and his own family.

"The trial court's remarks in the present case do not evince any animosity, hostility, ill will, or distrust toward defendant … . The court described the outrage felt in the community stemming from defendant's crimes."

The defendant was charged with various felony counts, and was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Separately, the defendant faced prosecution for possession of child pornography based on numerous images of child pornography that he had downloaded onto his church computer.

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