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Former Fort Lauderdale pastor acquitted in sex abuse case

Sex crime allegations tend to attract a lot of media attention. Some cases tend to attract more headlines than others, especially where allegations involve sexual molestation of a child.

It’s not surprising. The very notion that some adult would take advantage of the innocence of a child for their own gratification is repugnant. But an accusation is not a conviction and sex crime allegations, no matter what their nature may be, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before a person can be found guilty.

That reasonable doubt apparently was present in the minds of the Fort Lauderdale jury that heard the case of a former youth pastor accused of molesting children. He had been accused of 27 counts of abuse. The jury found him not guilty on all counts Thursday.

The crux of the case apparently was testimony from four adult males who were boys at the time of the alleged abuse. They each claimed they had been abused over periods of years and that the defendant had bought their silence with food, money, games and clothes. The defendant’s ex-wife also reportedly testified that she once caught him in bed with a 16-year-old male.

Testifying on his own behalf, the 50-year-old man denied he ever abused anyone. He also said the scene his former wife described never happened.

It is not clear what swayed the jury in its deliberations. The only real clue is that at one point the members asked the judge for clarification about the definition of reasonable doubt. Their acquittal came that afternoon.

An attorney for three of the alleged victims says they are shocked by the verdict. But the defense attorney says lack of physical evidence may have been critical.

The legal difficulties are not over for the defendant, despite the acquittal. He reportedly is facing similar charges based on the claims of four other men.

Source: WFOR-TV, “Jury Finds Fmr. Youth Pastor Not Guilty In Sex Abuse Trial,” MaryAnn Martinez, April 10, 2014