Former Pastor Paul D. Smeltzer Sentenced for Child Sex Abuse

Former pastor Paul Smeltzer was sentenced to 17 to 45 years for three counts of sexual assault on Monday. Smeltzer previously pleaded guilty to videotaping himself sexually abusing three relatives and his step-daughter.

Smeltzer and his wife moved to West Virginia in 2003 when he became a part-time pastor at the First Christian Church of St. Albans Disciples of Christ. Prior to moving to West Virginia, Smeltzer worked at churches in California and served as a leader for the student ministry at Community Bible Church in Mira Mesa, CA. During his trial, the judge noted that he had “problems” in California, too, where there were apparently similar charges made against him.

In a statement to the court, Smeltzer said, “I know I have sinned before God. I hope you also know God and will show the mercy God always shows us.”

Well, I could wish that everyone in the courtroom had a genuine understanding of the way God’s justice and mercy work. They are not a get-out-of-jail-free pass for pedophiles, especially not for the conveniently-repentant-when-caught ones. Even if his repentance were completely genuine, his full 45 years of jail time are consequences for action already completed and have nothing whatsoever to do with his repentance.