Measuring the Molehill

There have been some great comments on yesterday’s post, that I think merit some space of their own.

BloggerT7165 said:

The last time I checked there was roughly 70 reported cases a week of clergy sexual abuse in Protestant churches. Those are just the reported cases.

Danni replied:

So, that would be 3,640 accusations per year. Some of those will turn out to be false allegations – generally 1-3% if I remember correctly. So at the outside, that would still leave 3,531 credible accusations of Protestant clergy sex abuse per year. Then consider that MOST clergy sex abuse is never reported. So what number should we multiple that 3,531 by???

Now multiple by what for domestic abuse? If my comparative ratios dealing with people personally are used as a general guide, you would have to multiple 3,531 by 10 to even start to get a glimmer of an idea. That would be at least 35,310 instances of domestic violence in Protestant homes per year. And each of those represents a family, not an individual, experiencing abuse; not just once, but as an ongoing way of life.

These numbers are obviously not exact or scientific. But I know they are fairly accurately representative. This is what I’m seeing as reality from the inside actually working with this issue rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.

Molehill anyone???

As Hannah said:

So [if] its a small number of people dealing with this … its okay NOT to deal with it?

That would be my point exactly. How small is it really? This isn’t small! And if it were small, does that entitle the church to ignore the problem? How small does it have to be to say it doesn’t matter?

That is why Jesus said the good shepherd would leave the 99 who are safe and go rescue the one! That is our mandate as the church!!!

As BloggerT7165 said:

And one person suffering abuse is one to many.

EXACTLY.

And to all believers said:

churches wake up, stop [tickling] the ears!

Amen.

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Southern Baptist Pedophile Pastors Still on Convention Web Site

This article is courtesy of theTennessean.com. I’ve only included the first half of the article since the remainder was largely a rehash of what has already been said, but if you want to read the whole thing, follow the link.

I think this doesn’t need any additional commentary by me – it speaks for itself, loud and clear. Remind me again, how committed is the SBC to protecting its members from clergy abusers?

~~~

By Bob Smietana

Southern Baptist Convention leaders are railing against sexual predators, calling upon local churches to drive out anyone accused of sex crimes against children, but a quick Internet search shows the organization has not cleansed its own Web site.

An online minister search directory on the Southern Baptist Convention Web site contains the names of at least 10 Baptist ministers convicted of, or indicted on charges related to, sex crimes involving minors — including three in Tennessee.

Allowing those preachers to remain on the ministers’ directory angers Wade Burleson, an Oklahoma pastor who has pushed the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee to weed out church leaders accused of sexual misconduct.

“This is embarrassing,” he said. “… At least we should have a way to get people off the list.”

Sing Oldham, vice president for convention relations, said the online minister search is simply a list of Southern Baptist preachers and not an endorsement of any pastor.

Any church that considers hiring a pastor from that list should do intensive background checks, Oldham said. The executive committee has removed some pastors with criminal convictions from the online directory in the past and will do so again, he said.

Oldham said that when convention leaders first realized accused sex offenders were showing up on the minister directory they decided not to remove the preachers’ names because they feared the public would misconstrue that decision as an attempted cover-up.

But after ABC’s 20/20 program discovered convicted sexual predators on the Web site last year, the committee decided to begin removing names, Oldham said.

“The decision was made that if a convicted sexual predator became known, then just quietly the name would be removed,” he said.

While the office of convention policy maintains the minister directory, no staff person has been assigned to police it, Oldham said.

At least one Tennessee preacher on the minister list has been convicted but his name has not been removed.

Mark Woodson Mangrum, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Parsons, Tenn., has pleaded guilty to one federal count of distributing child pornography to a minor. In February, he was sentenced to 70 months in prison.

Two other Tennessee preachers on the list have been indicted but not convicted of any crime. Tim Byars, former youth pastor at Springhill Baptist Church in Dyersburg, Tenn., was indicted in Knox County on charges of rape and sexual battery by an authority figure. He is charged with fondling a 14-year-old student he was driving to a Knoxville track meet in 2006. He was indicted in Davidson County on charges of fondling another student in Nashville on that trip. Both cases are pending.

Steve Haney, former pastor of Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., was indicted in Shelby County last year on charges of rape and sexual battery by an authority figure. He also faces federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child and child pornography. His case also is pending.

What to Do When a Pastor Is Accused of Sex Abuse?

This fantastic piece is courtesy of SNAPnetwork.org. This is a must-read for everyone touched by clergy abuse allegations. I have edited the article slightly since it was originally written for a Catholic audience. I’ve merely substituted Protestant terminologies where appropriate.

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1) Remain open-minded.
The natural human instinct is to recoil from alleged horror, and to immediately assume that the allegations are false. But the overwhelming majority of abuse disclosures prove to be true.

In every case, the proper and Christian response is to remain open-minded.

2) Pray for all parties involved.
Every person involved deserves and needs prayerful support.

3) Let yourself feel whatever emotions arise.
You may feel angry, betrayed, confused, hurt, worried and sad. These are all natural, “typical” responses to an allegation of sexual abuse. None of these feelings are inappropriate or “bad.” Don’t “kick yourself” for feeling any of these emotions.

4) Remember that abuse, sadly, is quite common.
It’s far more widespread than any of us would like to believe. Experts estimate that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 9 boys will be molested in their lifetimes.

5) Don’t try to “guess” or figure out who the accuser is.
Abuse victims, like rape victims, need their privacy to recover from their trauma. Openly speculating about who is alleging abuse is essentially gossiping, and helps to create a hostile climate that will keep other victims (even those abused by non-clerical perpetrators) from coming forward.

6) If you do know the victim(s), protect his/her confidentiality.
There are many good reasons why abuse victims are unable to publicly come forward. Often, the person wants to keep his/her elderly parents or young children from suffering too. Don’t compound the pain he/she is in by disclosing his/her identity to others.

7) Understand that abuse victims often have “troubled” backgrounds (i.e. drug or alcohol problems, criminal backgrounds, etc.)
Instead of undermining the credibility of accusers, these difficulties actually enhance their credibility. (When someone is physically hurt, there are almost always clear signs of harm; so too with sexual abuse. The harm is reflected largely in self-destructive behaviors. One might be skeptical of a person who claimed to have been run over by a truck but showed no bodily injury. Similarly, one might be skeptical of an alleged molestation victim who always acted like a “model citizen.”)

8 ) Don’t allow the mere passage of time to discredit the accusers.
Stress to your fellow church members that there are many good reasons why abuse victims disclose their victimization years after the crime. In most instances, victims come forward when they are emotionally able to do so, and feel capable of risking disbelief and rejection from precious loved ones, including family members, church leaders, other authorities, and fellow Christians. Sometimes, they are psychologically able to do so only after their perpetrator has died, moved or been accused by someone else. Sometimes, they have been assured that their perpetrator would never be around kids again, but have learned that this isn’t the case.

(In other cases, it takes years before victims are able to understand and/or acknowledge to themselves that they have been sexually violated. This is a common defense mechanism.)

9) Ask your family members and friends if they were victimized.
Many times, abuse victims will continue to “keep the secret” unless specifically invited to disclose their victimization by someone they love and trust. Even raising this topic can be very uncomfortable. But it must be done. It may be very awkward and your family members may even act resentful at first. But soon they will remember that you really care about them, and will see your question as a sign of that care.

10) Mention the accusation to former parishioners and parish staff now living elsewhere.
They may have information that could prove the guilt or innocence of the priest facing allegations. This is especially important because sometimes abuse victims or their families move away after experiencing abuse.

11) Contact the police or prosecutors.
It’s your duty as a citizen to call the proper civil authorities if you have any information (even if it’s “second hand” or vague) that might help prove the guilt or innocence of the accused. It’s your duty as a Christian to help seek justice and protect others from harm. Remember: abuse thrives in secrecy. Exposing a physical wound to fresh air, clean water and sunlight can be healing.

Exposing sexual crimes is also ultimately healing. And remember that police and prosecutors are unbiased professionals with the skills and experience needed to ascertain whether an allegation is true or false.

12) Don’t allow other parishioners to make disparaging comments about those making the allegation.
Remember, the sexual abuse of children has terribly damaging effects. As a Christian, you want to help prevent such victimization. And you want anyone who is in pain to get help as soon as possible. Critical comments about those who make allegations only discourage others who may have been hurt. Such remarks prevent those who need help from reaching out and getting it. Show your compassion for abuse victims. Tell your fellow church members that hurtful comments are inappropriate. Remind them that they can defend their pastor without attacking his accuser.

13) Educate yourself and your family about sexual abuse.
There are many excellent books and resources on the subject. There are also good books specifically about molestation by clerics (Jason Berry’s Lead Us Not Into Temptation, Frank Bruni & Elinor Burkett’s Gospel of Shame, and the Boston Globe’s Betrayal). Check out the web site for clergy abuse victims: SNAPnetwork.org

14) Support the accused pastor PRIVATELY.
Calls, visits, letters, gifts, and prayers – all of these are appropriate ways to express your love and concern for the accused pastor. Public displays of support, however, are not. They only intimidate others into keeping silent. In fact, it is terribly hurtful to victims to see church members openly rallying behind an accused pastor. You may want to publicly defend a pastor, collect funds for the pastor’s defense, and take similar steps. Please don’t. Express your appreciation of the pastor in a direct, quiet ways. Even if the pastor is innocent, somewhere in the church body is a young girl being molested by a relative or a boy being abused by his coach or youth leader. If these children see adults they love and respect publicly rallying around accused perpetrators, they will be less likely to report their own victimization to their parents, the police, or other authorities. They will be scared into remaining silent, and their horrific pain will continue.

15) Don’t be blinded by the pain you can see.
The trauma of the accused pastor, and those who care about him, is obvious. You can usually see it in his face, his posture, and his actions. But please try to keep in mind the trauma of the accuser too. Because you rarely see his/her pain directly, it’s important to try and imagine it. This helps you keep a balanced perspective.

16) Try to put yourself in the shoes of the alleged victim.
It’s easy to identify with the pastor. Most Christians have met dozens of pastors and know them as warm and wonderful individuals. On the other hand, few Christians have met clergy abuse survivors. In the gospels, Jesus calls us to identify with the hurting, the vulnerable, and the innocent. Try, as best you can, to imagine the shame, self-blame, confusion and fear that afflict men and women who have been victimized by trusted religious authority figures.

17) Use this painful time as an opportunity to protect your own family.
Talk with your children about “safe touch,” the private parts of their bodies, who is allowed to touch those parts, what to do if someone else tries, and who to tell. Urge your sons and daughters to have similar conversations with your grandchildren.

18 ) Turn your pain into helpful action.
In times of stress and trauma, doing something constructive can be very beneficial. Volunteer your time or donate your funds to organizations that help abused kids or work to stop molestation.

19) Keep in mind the fundamental choice you face.
On the one hand, at stake are the FEELINGS of a grown up. On the other hand, at stake is the PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, SPIRITUAL AND SEXUAL SAFETY of potentially many children. If one has to err in either direction, the prudent and moral choice is to always err on the side of protecting those who can’t protect themselves: children. Remember too that it’s easier for an adult to repair his reputation than for a child (or many children) to repair his/her psyche and life. Another way to look at this: Being falsely accused of abuse is horrific. But actually being abused, then being attacked or disbelieved is far worse.

20) Ask your pastor to bring in an outside expert or a therapist who can lead a balanced discussion about sexual abuse.
Therapists understand and can answer the questions you and your fellow church members are facing, and help you deal with the emotional impact of this trauma too.

21) Urge other church leaders, staff, denominational leaders and friends to follow these guidelines too.

Former Pastor Brian L. Williams Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Abuse Charges

This story courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch.

~~~

A former Delaware County pastor charged with raping a 15-year-old girl who attended his church pleaded guilty today to related charges.

Brian L. Williams, 45, the former head pastor of Sunbury Grace Brethren Church, pleaded guilty to two sexual battery charges, Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost said in a news release.

Williams was indicted in March on two counts of rape and two counts of sexual battery. The indictment alleged that on March 6, Williams forced the girl to perform oral sex and assaulted her at his church office.

“The plea will eliminate the need to force the victim to testify at trial,” Yost said. “This young woman has been hurt enough by a man who was supposed to be helping her.”

Do Children Lie About Sex Abuse?

This article is courtesy of the Post-Bulletin.

~~~

By John Weiss

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Children do lie, but seldom about being abused, an expert said. “All human beings can and do lie, but it’s hard for kids to do it about sex,” said Victor Vieth, director of the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University. “They can’t lie about something they have no knowledge of,” he said, and children don’t learn about oral sex on Sesame Street.

Young children might try to trick parents with other things, such as if they cleaned their rooms, but they aren’t very good at it, he said. “It has to be that way or us parents wouldn’t have a chance,” he said.

Older children can lie about sex abuse, but that’s hard, for other reasons, he said.

“It’s no fun to make an accusation of sexual abuse,” Vieth said. They know others will know they made the accusations and they could be teased about it, he said. They also know they might have to be examined in a hospital and testify in court in front of others, including the media. “When exactly does it start being fun for those kids?” he said.

Children also come under heavy pressure to recant, he said. Most find living with a lie if they recant is easier than living with abuse if they do testify. In fact, say those working with children, the opposite is closer to the truth — children tend to underreport abuse.

Lying is rare, said Nancy Reuvers, supervisor of child/family services for Dodge County. “If anything, they will protect their parents,” she said.

“They still love their parents,” said Jennifer Adamson, a child protection social worker.

They fear that if they tell, their parents will be taken from them or they will have to leave their homes.

“And if they tell, things change,” Reuvers said.

Author and psychologist Anne Salter, however, said many people convicted of sexual abuse do lie. In her book “Predators Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders,” she said a study of much of the data about numbers of abusers who were abused are based on self reporting.

One test of convicted offenders asked if they had been abused. Half of the offenders were told they would have to take polygraph tests afterward.

Of those who didn’t have to take a polygraph test, an average of 64.3 percent said they were abused; of those told they would be tested, 30.3 percent said they were abused.

“The only rule for deception in sex offenders I have ever found is this: if it is in the offender’s best interests to lie, and if he can do it and not get caught, he will lie,” she wrote.

Clergy Sex Abuse Charges Against Jay Robinson IV Wreak Havoc in Southwood Baptist Church

This story is courtesy of the Star-Telegram. I’m dumbfounded. I don’t even know where to start. See for yourself.

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By Deanna Boyd

It began in February when the father overheard his 17-year-old daughter talking inappropriately over the phone.

On the other end of the line, the father said he later learned, was James “Jay” Virtue Robinson IV, pastor of Southwood Baptist Church, which the family had been attending for more than a decade.

The girl acknowledged that she had had a sexual relationship with the 31-year-old pastor.

The outraged father told the church council and several church members. But Robinson, pastor of the church since October 2006, repeatedly denied his accusations.

Eventually, saying he had learned that a relationship had started when his daughter was 16, the father went to police.

Wednesday evening, more than three months after the father overheard the phone call, Robinson surrendered at the Tarrant County Jail in response to an arrest warrant accusing him of sexual assault of a child. He was released after posting $20,000 bail.

The case has divided the church at 2633 Altamesa Blvd. Some back the pastor; other long-term members believe that the evidence supports Robinson’s removal.

Some members have left the congregation, which began in 1978 with 13 members but now counts hundreds.

Some members were forcibly escorted from the church by armed guards, accused of causing discord, according to documents obtained by the Star-Telegram.

Robinson has steadfastly denied having a relationship with the girl. Neither he nor his attorney, Cheyenne Minick, returned telephone calls Wednesday night seeking comment.

After one Sunday evening service, the pastor addressed the congregation, saying that the girl and her parents were being manipulated by former church members whom he described as “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” police and church members say.

“We now have reason to believe that the preacher may actually be himself a wolf using the pulpit to prey on the sheep he’s been charged to protect,” said Lt. Paul Henderson, police spokesman.

Some members of the church strongly disagree.

“Everybody is supporting the pastor,” said a man who answered the phone at the church Wednesday night, where services went on as usual although led by an associate pastor. “The church does not believe the allegations.”

The man, who declined to give his name but described himself as a longtime member of the church, said that despite the arrest, he believes Robinson will remain pastor of the church.

“He will be unless he’s somehow convicted,” the man said. “He is our pastor.”

“I think that active members of the church will support the pastor. “There are people out there making allegations every day against people who are innocent.”

Pastor’s denial

The girl, now 18, was 16 when she and Robinson, then the youth minister, began to strike up more than just a friendship, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The relationship began with kissing and escalated to sexual touching, occurring about 10 times at the church, the affidavit states.

By the time she was 17, the relationship progressed to sexual intercourse. Robinson would pick the girl up from her school and take her to his home where they would have sex, the affidavit states.

The girl’s father said that after overhearing his daughter’s telephone conversation with Robinson on Feb. 25, he confronted the pastor that day.

The next day, he and Matt Linde, a member of the church council, confronted Robinson in person.

Both times, Robinson denied having an inappropriate conversation or relationship with the girl, said the father, who is not being named to protect his daughter’s identity.

“Essentially what he said was, he just became best friends with [the girl]. He said maybe he was wrong for that, but that’s the only thing he has done wrong,” said the father, who at the time was a worship leader and music director at the church.

The father reviewed his daughter’s cellphone records, discovering that she and the pastor had exchanged calls and text messages into the early hours of the morning. He took those records to the church’s council the next Sunday.

Later that evening, Linde said, he and the seven other council members listened as Robinson told his side of the story. But after two meetings that week, Linde said, the council is split on whether to ask for the pastor’s resignation.

“The co-chair said in this case, we’re going to err on the side of the pastor, so we cannot ask for his removal,” Linde said.

Instead, the council voted to give Robinson a written reprimand and one year of probation, and order him to have counseling. Linde, however, voted against that.

“If they felt there was enough evidence to reprimand him according to the scripture, there’s enough evidence to remove him — to ask for his resignation,” Linde said. “I was not willing to settle for a written reprimand. It did no good. It was going to sit in his file folder where nobody would see it, nobody would hold him accountable.”

The father was also unhappy with the vote, so he met with a group of men at the church to tell them about his accusation and give them copies of the phone records.

When the council found out, the father said, the council decided not to issue any disciplinary action against Robinson at all.

“They called it an illegal meeting of church members,” the father said. “They were threatening people after that — anyone who is caught talking to us or communicating and talking about the issue at church will be removed.”

Armed guards

The council carried out that threat on March 16, according to church members and police reports.

Jon Blackburn, an ordained minister who was at the meeting with the girl’s father, was scheduled to speak that Sunday morning to a Vietnamese congregation that meets in Southwood’s gymnasium. Blackburn is not a member of Southwood but had attended the church regularly for about a year when not speaking at other churches.

When he arrived at Southwood that Sunday, a college-age church member handed Blackburn papers stating that he was no longer permitted at the church.

When Blackburn tried to explain that he was there only to preach to the Vietnamese congregation, the father of the younger man with the papers was summoned, he said.

“He came to me with an armed security guard and asked me if I was going into the service. I again explained that I was not, that I was there to preach for the Vietnamese congregation,” Blackburn said. “He goes into the main church sanctuary, obviously to speak to Jay, comes back out and says, ‘Jay says you’re “ not permitted to speak to that church.’

When Linde and his family arrived at the church that morning to attend Sunday school, they didn’t make it past the parking lot.

Instead, Linde reported to police, the family was met by a church member, who said, “You will not be able to go into the church.” Two armed guards gave Linde a letter stating that the church council had voted him off the council and out of the church, he said. If he attempted to come onto the property, the letter stated, he would be forcibly removed.

“I felt like I was in a communist camp,” Linde said. “I felt like we were being denied our abilities as Christians to be able to worship freely.”

A 53-year-old Arlington woman filed a police report that she and her grandson were ushered out of morning services because of their objections to the pastor’s behavior.

And a 38-year-old Burleson woman told police that she was assaulted by a guard during a meeting after an evening service. The guard bumped into her and pushed her with his chest while trying to remove her husband from the church, she reported.

Pastor’s letter

In a letter dated March 17 and sent to church members, Robinson reiterated that the “accusation of moral failure” leveled against him is false. He wrote that he had taken a polygraph test that supported his innocence and said the results were available for review by appointment by active adult members of the church.

Police say that the polygraph test was not administered through them and that they cannot vouch for its legitimacy.

Robinson said the accusing family was being used by others “who desire to wrest the leadership of this church from the pastor and the council” and would stop at nothing.

“Those who choose to follow the lead of these by gossiping, slandering, causing division and discord, or by holding or participating in sectional meetings, will face church discipline,” Robinson wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Star-Telegram.

“Anyone who attempts to disrupt any service will be removed and be subject to church discipline. It is our desire and prayer that all would repent and be restored, but until that time, those who cause discord in the Church are to be shunned according to Scripture. Anyone else who causes discord and division or gossip should be avoided.”

Robinson and the seven remaining council members signed the letter, which also invited church members to Robinson’s May 17 wedding at the church. The letter was accompanied by a similarly signed church council statement stating that it was the council’s unanimous decision “that there is insufficient evidence to dismiss the Pastor or take any other action.”

“Pastor Jay continues to have the Council’s complete support. It is recommended that the Church join in that support,” it read.

Greg Ploetz, a council leader, declined to comment Wednesday night about the arrest. Council member Wes Basta said Wednesday night that there are no plans to remove Robinson as pastor of the church.

“We are supporting the pastor at this point,” Basta said. He said he believes the allegations against Robinson are untrue.

“Unless there’s some evidence that we haven’t seen, then yes, we feel he’s innocent,” Basta said.

Police involved

The same day members were being evicted from the church, the girl’s parents asked Blackburn, a trusted friend, to talk to her.

Accompanied by his wife, Blackburn questioned the girl about her relationship with Robinson, and locations and times when they had been together. Through that discussion, the family was able to deduce that the relationship went back to when the girl was underage, and Robinson was the church’s youth minister.

With the father’s permission, Blackburn discussed the new information with a friend in law enforcement, who met with the girl’s family and recommended they file a report with Fort Worth police.

On March 18, the father did so and the Crimes Against Children Unit began an investigation.

Detective T.L. Howard attempted to interview Robinson, but the pastor declined.

Through his attorney, Robinson agreed to take a polygraph, the affidavit states.

During that polygraph, given June 12, Robinson denied any sexual contact with the girl. The arrest warrant affidavit stated that afterward, when Robinson was told that the examination showed “significant deception,” he asked what would happen to him if the sex was all after the girl was 17.

The pastor’s attorney called a halt to the examination, the affidavit states.

Broken church

The church’s Web site states that 450 people attend Sunday services, but Basta said he believes the number is closer to 700 or 800.

Linde said his family now worships with about 100 former Southwood members at a private facility. Several other members, he said, have moved their memberships to other churches or are waiting for the legal proceedings to play out.

“Our intention, honestly, was to go back and try to bring restoration to a broken facility,” Linde said. “Spiritually, I believed the place was broken. My intention was to go back and help it heal after things played out in the legal realm.”

Pastor Leon Rankins III Sentenced in SECOND Child Abuse Conviction

This article is courtesy of pnj.com.

A couple of thoughts come to mind as I read this:

Why was this man a pastor again when he had a former conviction for sexual abuse?

Note how, in spite of the fact he was a previous offender, he had a collection of supporters with him in the courtroom. A good number of these people surely believed in his innocence. People are really not dumb enough to believe in the innocence of someone they know is guilty. The reason they believed him was because he was completely believable!

Also note how he pled with the victim’s family not to press charges and blamed his behavior on personal problems and stress. He also threw in a promise to leave the ministry. First of all, his behavior had nothing to do with stress! He had a sex abuse charge as a teenager in 1989, and a prior sex abuse conviction as an adult in 1994. He was already a registered sex offender. This is classic denial.

Unfortunately, since Christians feel obligated to give people the benefit of the doubt, this type of plea is often successful, enabling a pedophile to move on to fresh hunting grounds in a new church. They move on if they get the hint that things are getting too hot in one church, usually before any charges are filed.

~~~

Circuit Judge Nick Geeker sentenced Pastor Leon Rankins III today to five years in state prison and 10 years probation.

Rankins, 36, of the Restoration Full Gospel Baptist Church in the 900 block of West Cervantes Street, is also required to register as a sexual predator.

Rankins pleaded no contest in April to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim over the age of 12.

If Rankins had been convicted at trial, he would have faced at least 12 years in prison.

Rankins, who had been free on bond, was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by his attorney and the court security officer.

More than 20 family members and supporters of Rankins filed quietly out of the courtroom after Geeker announced the sentence. None wished to comment as they exited the courtroom.

The allegations against Rankins came to light last April when the victim told his parents that the minister had been molesting him for two years, according to police reports.

Prior to his arrest, Rankins pleaded with the victim’s family not to press charges. Unbeknownst to Rankins, the family had contacted authorities who recorded a telephone conversation in which Rankins told the victim’s mother he was dealing with personal issues and was willing to leave the church.

It was the second time Rankins, a registered sex offender, was accused of having sex with a boy.

Rankins was 17 years old at the time of another sex abuse allegation in 1989; the victim was an 11-year-old boy.

In 1994, Rankins pleaded no contest to two counts of sexual battery and was sentenced to two years of house arrest followed by two years of probation.