SNAP Press Release - May 6, 2011
Charges filed against "pastor" - clergy sex abuse victims respond
For immediate release, Friday, May 6
Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director 314-862-7688 SNAPdorris@gmail.com
We are grateful that prosecutors have filed charges against Aaron Witcher (aka Pastor Soulja) who is already in prison for sex with an underage girl. [see article below]
While Wichter is serving five years in prison, we fear when he is released that children will be in danger. Because of this victim's courage, Wichter will face more charges and the possibility of more years in prison. When predators are behind bars, kids are safer.
We urge anyone who has been victimized to come forward and report to law enforcement, not the church. Most child predators do not only have one or two victims, and Wichter - or any predator - can be charged and prosecuted for other child sex crimes. No victim deserves to suffer in shame and silence.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 10,000 members. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Youth pastor sentenced for two counts of rape
BY STEPHEN HUNT | The Salt Lake Tribune
Ogden • A former Weber County youth pastor was sentenced to prison for five years to life on Wednesday for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl in his flock.
Aaron Witcher — known locally as the rapping "Pastor Soulja" — had pleaded guilty in 2nd District Court to two counts of first-degree felony rape.
Judge Ernie Jones said prison was appropriate because Witcher, 38, had sexual intercourse with the girl more than 20 times as well as other instances of sexual activity.
"This was not a mistake, not a one-time thing," said the judge, who nevertheless opted to run the two terms concurrently.
The victim’s father had asked for consecutive terms to give his daughter as much time as possible to "grow up" before the defendant was released from prison.
Through a letter read in court by a victims’ advocate, the father said Witcher had "mocked and betrayed God" and that God’s punishment of him would be worse than anything handed down by the court.
Defense attorney Gregory Smith told the judge that Witcher’s conduct was "unconscionable and a sin. He absolutely knows that."
Smith added that Witcher was "incredibly selfish and stupid … he feels unclean."
Smith argued that due to Witcher’s otherwise spotless criminal record, concurrent prison terms should be imposed.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Dean Saunders said that, as part of a plea deal in which six other rape counts were dismissed, prosecutors didn’t ask for consecutive terms.
The courtroom held some two dozen people who support Witcher, as well as family and friends of the victim.
According to police, Witcher began a sexual relationship with the girl during the summer of 2010. The investigation began in August, after a Roy police officer found the two in a parked car and became suspicious. Police said that under questioning, the pair eventually acknowledged their relationship was sexual.
No other charges have been filed, despite investigators having said they were looking into other possible relationships between Witcher and underage girls. Detectives said they were specifically checking Witcher’s past pastoral assignment at New Pilgrim Baptist Church in southern Salt Lake County and, most recently, the The Genesis Project church in Ogden.
This article was found at:
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