The son and daughter-in-law of Victory Christian Center Senior Pastor Sharon Daugherty, accused of failing to report on time a rape crime they were made aware of last year, are heading to jury trial as they attempt to clear their name in the scandal surrounding the Tulsa, Okla., megachurch.
The other three staff members also accused of delaying their report on the rape attack have waived their right to a jury and will directly face the judge's decision, Tulsa World revealed. The case is regarding the sexual attack on an unnamed 13-year-old girl in August 2012, who was assaulted inside a building owned by the church.
John and Charica Daugherty, who serve as youth pastors at Victory Christian, are defending themselves by arguing that that they reported the crime to Human Services, and are not responsible for the fact that police did not get the details until two weeks later. The other three defendants in the case are staff members Paul Howard Willemstein, an associate youth pastor; Anna Alisa George, the high school outreach program director; and Harold Frank Sullivan, the former human resources director.
Chris Denman, 20, pleaded guilty to committing the rape and was sentenced to 55 years in prison in December for his crime. The scandal has gripped the 17,000-member church, which is also being sued by the mother of the girl for at least $75,000. The mother of the victim is accusing the church of being more concerned with the reputation of its ministry than the well-being of her daughter.
"I want to personally say, that if anybody here is aware of any child being neglected or abused, physically or sexually, that you should please inform the authorities immediately," Senior Pastor Sharon Daugherty has told her congregation. "Our children are precious, and we owe them our full protection," Daugherty added.
John and Charica Daugherty will now face a jury sounding docket on May 10, while the other three defendants are expected to plead guilty without a deal from prosecutors.
"We have the opportunity to present aggravating evidence (against Willemstein, George and Sullivan) and show why we believe they should be held accountable," said Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis.