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El Paso County church leader accepts plea deal in abuse case

The former superintendent of the Hilltop Baptist Church, in Colorado Springs, has agreed to accept a plea deal on charges growing out of a sexual assault investigation. The ex-church leader was accused by prosecutors of failing to report suspicions of child abuse and of being an accessory to a crime.

In exchange for a guilty plea on those two charges, prosecutors agreed to dismiss other pending accusations. The former pastor will undergo two years of probation under supervision, and will be required to perform 150 community service hours.

The charges involved claims that his 32-year-old niece engaged in a sexual relationship with an underage 15-year-old male student. The pastor supposedly knew about this, yet failed to intervene or report it. The illicit relationship supposedly began in the fall of 2007 and ended the following summer. The boy and adult women were said to have started having sex in her car in the parking lot of her apartment building. Later sexual encounters were said to have occurred inside the woman's home, as well as at her father's house.

The boy later told a friend about the affair, as well as displaying a topless photo of his adult lover. The niece was charged with promotion of obscenity and eight counts of sexual assault on a minor by a person in a position of trust. Those charges are still unresolved and unproven.

The criminal charges against the El Paso County church leader were filed under a state statute requiring certain designated professionals to make reports to human services officials or the police when they have reason to suspect a minor is being abused or being made to engage in inappropriate activities.

Source: thedenverchannel.com: "Arrested Pastor Takes Plea Deal In Child Abuse Case," Feb. 28, 2012

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