Many Missouri parents have entrusted their children to the spiritual care of youth ministers in their churches. Protestant congregations often have tremendous membership numbers, with hundreds, if not thousands, of area youth coming together for activities, field trips and worship services. One can only imagine the depth of a parent's grief to learn that a child has been assaulted in statutory rape by someone the family trusted.
One such preacher at a Baptist church in the Ozarks recently entered an Alford plea before the verdict reached by a jury was announced in court. This type of plea means that a defendant acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict. The man in this situation admitted this before the court, and he will now spend four years in prison.
There are any number of reasons that a criminal defense attorney might advise a client to enter such a plea. Doing so is not an admission of guilt, only a public statement that one understands a possible conviction appears inevitable. Since every case is different, what may be the best course of action for one defendant might not be for another.
This is why it is often crucial to act alongside experienced legal guidance when facing statutory rape or other serious sexual charges in Missouri. Certain types of plea agreements lead to lesser sentences. However, a defendant acting without legal support may not have the appropriate knowledge to understand the differences in pleas in order to make informed decisions that lead to as positive an outcome as possible. Typically, it is best to consult an attorney in such matters.
Source: kansascity.com, "Missouri preacher pleads guilty to sexual assaults of girls", Donald Bradley, April 28, 2016