Oklahoma Judge Upholds Charges Against Workers in Megachurch Sex Crime Case
A judge on November 19 declined to drop misdemeanor charges against two workers at a Tulsa megachurch who have been accused of failing to report the rape of a 13-year-old girl. Special Judge Sarah Smith denied a defense motion to dismiss the charges filed against John and Charica Daugherty, son and daughter-in-law of senior pastor Sharon Daugherty, at the Tulsa-based Victory Christian Center. If you have been charged with an Oklahoma criminal offense, or with the failure to report a crime such as abuse or neglect, contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys at AMA Law today. Our law firm is located in Oklahoma City, and our criminal defense lawyers have years of proven experience helping individuals facing Oklahoma criminal charges build a strong defense.
MEGACHURCH WORKER CHARGED WITH RAPE
A former employee of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, 20-year-old Chris Denman, pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl in a stairwell on church property, in addition to committing other sex crimes. The Daugherty’s and other workers at the worldwide ministry – Anna George, Paul Willemstein and Harold “Frank” Sullivan – have each pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to report the child abuse in a timely manner. According to the Oklahoma child abuse case, the megachurch workers facing charges waited more than two weeks to report the rape of the 13-year-old girl. According to a motion filed earlier this month however, the Daugherty’s had no first-hand knowledge of the alleged sex abuse, and therefore were not required by state law to report the crime.
MISDEMEANOR CHARGES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT ABUSE
In her decision to deny the motion, Smith ruled it is in the public interest to protect children, and declared that there is no ambiguity in Oklahoma laws regarding child abuse reporting. Oklahoma law dictates that every person who has a reason to believe that a child under 18 is a victim of abuse is required to report the suspicion of abuse immediately to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). More specifically, the person reporting the child abuse is not required to provide evidence of the abuse prior to notifying DHS. And per Oklahoma statute §30-4-903, “any person who knowingly and willfully fails to promptly report any abuse, neglect, or exploitation as required by the provisions of subsection A of this section, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
CONTACT OUR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS FOR HELP
A second former employee, 23-year-old Israel Castillo, has been accused of making lewd proposals to a 15-year-old girl and using a computer to commit an alleged Oklahoma sex crime. Castillo has pleaded not guilty to the Oklahoma criminal offenses, and is free on bond pending a hearing on November 29. In light of the judge’s recent ruling, the Daugherty’s are due back in court on December 12, and hearings are also set for December for three other workers on the same charges. If you are facing charges for a criminal offense in Oklahoma, contact our qualified criminal defense lawyers at AMA Law for legal help. Our team of knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys has extensive experience protecting the legal rights of Oklahomans, and can help improve your chances of a favorable outcome in your case.