What Does Chester Mulligan’s Sentence Mean?

Update 4/26/2009 — Chester Mulligan responds exactly as predicted.

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These are my thoughts on Chester Mulligan’s sentencing, and what it means for victims and any church with which he has further contact.

Chester Mulligan pleaded guilty to a significantly-reduced charge of felony stalking, instead of facing trial for the sexual abuse charges made against him. He will serve no jail time and probably return to Grace Baptist Church and Christian School in Miami, FL, where he is the senior pastor.

By accepting this plea bargain, Mulligan gets this monkey off his back. There is no longer a looming sex abuse charge throwing a grey cloud over his life and his ministry. From the beginning he publically pronounced his case would never go to court. Well, it finally did, but he managed to take most of the teeth out of it.

He has also created a largely deniable situation. He can spin this to say it was his way to get this burden removed from God’s work, since the person who accused him seemed to feel his responses to those accusations were tantamount to stalking — or something similar. He can also say that though he was charged with sex abuse, these charges were not proveable in court — thus the reduced sentence; therefore, he is innocent.

Under the legal terms of most of our country, Mulligan is innocent until proven guilty. He was not proven guilty. On a technicality, he can say that if he wasn’t proven guilty of the sex abuse charges, he is innocent of them. The truth is – and must be continually asserted – he was NOT proven innocent of the charges (though the legal burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense). Under a plea agreement, there is no opportunity to prove guilt. He pled guilty to a lesser charge in a plea agreement – that is an entirely different matter than being proven innocent, or failure to prove guilt and, therefore, “proving” innocence.

What this means, however, is that Mulligan will almost certainly be free to return to pastoring his church and leading the Christian school there. He will be able to assert that his day in court did not find him guilt of sex abuse. Whether by statement or implication he can continue to assert that the charges against him were false and that the victim is all of the negative labels he has placed on her over the past eight years.

Most importantly of all, this plea bargain and sentence will allow Mulligan to continue his alleged activities if, in fact, he is guilty of them. Sexual predators do not stop until they are forced to stop. IF (since no charges have technically been proven) this moniker applies to Mulligan, the continuation of alleged abuse would apply as well.

It is universally true in any sex abuse situation — for the well-being of other children and adults, anyone who has experienced sexual abuse must come forward. At least in this case, if applicable, now someone else has paved a path – it’s a start. But it is only a start.

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3 Responses

  1. Years ago I contacted my father to request he pay for some therapy for me for the PTSD/bpd resulting from years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. He said he would pay only if he could talk with the professional involved with my care. He wanted to be able to discuss treatment plans etc. At the time he was working in the fund raising department of Phillips University in Enid, OK. All my efforts were in vain so in my frustration I wrote the Dean of Phillips Universtiy and provided him with some background on my father his employee – the schools response “this is truly an unfortunate family situation”. The icing on the cake my father has a masters degree in Divinity and is an ordained minster.

    • Michele,
      I am truly grieved in hearing of the abuse you suffered from your father. I hope you were able to get counseling anyway… even without his help.

      You don’t mention what faith group he was an ordained minister in. There are some faith groups in which you would be able to take your information to the ordaining officials or denominational officials and would be able to receive assistance with the cost of therapy from them.

      I noticed in the Mulligan article that the victim also obtained a civil settlement. I sure hope that she got adequate money in that settlement to cover every last bit of therapy she might need… and then some. In many other faith groups, a civil settlement alone might be sufficient evidence on which to remove a man from ministry. But not so, with Baptists.

  2. God bless you!!!!! Please contact me

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