A Georgia pastor was convicted last week of raping and molesting a girl in his congregation.
A jury convicted Terrance Lamont King, who formerly pastored in Eastman, of statutory rape, child molestation and enticing a child. He was sentenced on Dec. 12 to serve 30 years in prison and will be on probation for life, according to a Houston County District Attorney news release.
"What makes this case especially egregious is the fact that the defendant was the victim's pastor, someone that she and her whole family looked up to, trusted and loved," Assistant District Attorney Mark W. Anthony said in a statement. "He betrayed them and the entire church community by using his position to seduce this young woman, making her believe that they were in a dating relationship, and then exploiting her innocence and infatuation for his own lurid purposes. Given the abuse of his position of authority and status as a role model, we consider the sentence fair and just."
The relationship between King and the victim began when she was 15, after the pastor picked her up from school one morning and drove her to a hotel where they had sex. The victim's mother discovered the act through an "inappropriate" Facebook chat conversation.
King took his position as pastor in the small, Georgia church in 2010 before he was charged at the beginning of this year.
Superior Court Judge Edward D. Lukemire, who presided over the case, banished King from the county where the act occurred and said that he is barred from communicating with the family, even if the pastor showed remorse for his actions and wished to write a letter of apology.
"You were a wolf in shepherd's clothing," Lukemire told King, according to The Telegraph, adding that, as a spiritual leader, his "disgusting" actions may have influenced the girl more than those of another authority figure, like a teacher.
The victim's mother told the judge that King had betrayed his responsibility as a leader, and that although her daughter thought she was in love with King, the girl would have to realize that those feelings were not consistent with the pastor's actions.
The woman added that although she wanted to forgive the pastor for what he did to her daughter and is praying for him, she has not yet been able to do so.
Anthony said that he admired the way the victim had handled herself during the case.
"I know that this whole experience has been tremendously difficult for this victim, and especially going through this trial, and I just want to say that I could not be more proud of her for doing this," he said.