- (Photo: KCCI 8 News screen shot)
An Iowa pastor is speaking out for the first time after his church's former youth leader was sentenced to 15 years for sexual abuse Monday.
James Snow, leader of Heritage Assembly in Des Moines, trusted Ryan McKelvey, 27, as youth pastor of the congregation but now considers him a "monster" that took advantage of two minors within the church.
"I realized that he had deceived all of his life. Twenty-seven years and no one had ever picked up on these issues except for the ones he had hurt," Snow said, according to KCCI 8 News. "Anyone who would do something like this to a child is a monster and they're not normal."
The former youth pastor had inappropriate sexual relations with two teenage girls, one whom he was involved with the night his wife was in labor with their son, according to police.
Snow says he removed McKelvey from his position the first time he saw him pull into the church parking lot with one of the girls in his car and immediately notified authorities as soon as the girl admitted their illicit relationship.
At the time of his arrest in August 2013, only one of the girls had come forward, admitting that their relationship began within the church and that he would come over to her house as well. During the investigation it was discovered that there was a second victim and investigators confirmed sexual incidents had occurred with her as well.
Despite the trouble and legal battle the victims have endured, Snow hopes other victims of sexual abuse to come forward.
"If you come forward, you're not going to be made to feel foolish. You're not going to be made to feel as if you're not intelligent or as if you've done something wrong," said Snow. "There will be justice served."
McKelvey is accused of sexual exploitation and abuse and will be listed on the Iowa sex offender registry for life despite his emotional pleas for the judge to suspend his sentence.
"I hate what I did, I hate the situations that I was in, I hate how I used pain and hard times to rationalize and justify my actions," McKelvey told the judge, according to De Moines-based WHO- TV 13.