5 Nov 2010

Southern Baptist youth minister found guilty of molesting 13 year old girl, forcing oral sex

ARIZONA DAILY STAR August 20, 2009

Former minister found guilty of molesting girl

She says abuse was weekly; 50+ years in prison possible

By Kim Smith

A former youth minister is facing more than 50 years in prison after being convicted Wednesday of molesting a 13-year-old girl over the course of a year.

Christopher Scott Decaire will be sentenced Sept. 18 by Pima County Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry on six of the eight molestation and sexual-conduct charges he originally faced.

The jury acquitted him of two counts of sexual conduct after deliberating nearly eight hours over two days.

Last week, the girl, now 15, testified that Decaire molested her and forced her to perform oral sex between January 2007 and January 2008.

Decaire, who hung his head when the first guilty verdict was read, met the girl through his position as youth minister at the East Tucson Baptist Church.

"Something happened pretty much every Wednesday," the girl testified, referring to the night that the youth group met. "He always told me that if anyone found out, he'd probably kill himself, and he could go to jail for the rest of his life. I believed him."

The abuse came to light after the girl told her sister, who told their mother, who called police.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Deputy Pima County Attorney Michelle Araneta reminded jurors of two facts she said prove Decaire's guilt. First, DNA tests proved that semen found on the girl's jacket was Decaire's, Araneta said. Second, Araneta replayed a phone conversation between Decaire and the girl that was secretly recorded by police.

When the girl told Decaire her sister "knows" what was going on, Decaire didn't ask what she knew, Araneta said. Instead, Decaire said, "Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God" and "Oh, Lord have mercy. Oh, Lord have mercy."

Decaire, his voice urgent, also pleaded with the girl not to say anything to anybody. "Do you understand what that would do?" Decaire asked.

Defense attorney Richard Bock told jurors the state had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He tried to convince the jury the girl fabricated the story, and he questioned the DNA results.

Bock speculated the girl realized she'd gone too far in her storytelling and that's why she texted Decaire after their taped phone conversation to urge him not to show up for a pre-arranged meeting.

Araneta said that if the girl were trying to frame Decaire she would have told her mom about the abuse and she would have alleged they'd had intercourse.

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