The prosecutors had asked for 72 years, but he ended up getting only 12, because of his life’s work.
The last 8 months have been a slew of bad news, increasing people’s fears, creating major existential crises, and an overall sense of helplessness and anger. Well, unfortunately, here’s another one for the same pile.
A 41-year-old man named David Richards was given 12 years in prison in Knox County Tennessee for raping his adopted teen daughter, according to Metro.
But the truly horrible part of this news is that he got a reduced sentence because he is a pastor. His sentence was reduced by not a few, but 60 years even though the prosecutors sought a jail time of 72 years for the molester. The reason for this lenient sentence, Judge Steve Sword cited, is the pastor’s work and the Bible study he began in jail.
According to Knoxville News Sentinel, the pastor was convicted on nine felony counts, including charges of rape, incest, and sexual battery by an authority figure. He repeatedly abused his daughter, Amber Richards, for 2 years. It began when she was 14.
It is unusual for victims of sexual abuse to be identified publicly. But Amber chose to speak up publicly. In a heart-wrenching statement, Amber spoke about the effect the abuse had on her. “I wanted to throw my body away. Not a day goes by that I don’t, in some way, think of what he did to me.”
David, however, claimed that he was innocent. He went as far as to suggest that his accuser was just a defiant teenager who made initial allegations of sexual abuse while he was trying to impose strict rules for his children.
While his religious work did not stop him from committing the heinous crime, it did precent him from getting the punishment he deserved.
But later on, upon investigation, traces of David’s semen were found on the girl’s bed frame when forensic testing was done.
David has yet not budged from his stance. He still claimed that he was innocent when he took the witness stand in his own defense.
He said, “I stand before you convicted of crimes I did not commit. I simply believe the system just erred in this case. I’m not sure why I’m here…but I assume it’s for his (God’s) purpose.”
David Thomspon, one of David’s fellow pastors, who shared ministry duties with him also defended him. He said, “I find it impossible for me to believe he’s guilty of this. His business needs him. His family needs him. Our church needs him.”
However, Amber, during her testimony, categorically asserted that given a chance, Richards would not hesitate to repeat what he did. “I firmly believe if given the opportunity, he would victimize another girl,” she added.
In a video posted by USA TODAY Network after the trial, Amber said, “I’m just glad that I can finally move on with my life. And I didn’t really do this for me. I did it so it didn’t happen to anybody else. and so nobody else is in the same situation as I am, especially amazing kids. They don’t deserve to go through things like that and if I had to be the one to make sure that it never happens again then I would want to do that.”
For her to pick up the pieces and stand up for herself and having the system at least believe in her is encouraging. But that the background of the perpetrator got such a lenient sentence means there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.