- (Photo: Facebook/Matt Pitt)
Popular youth evangelist Matt Pitt, 30, who founded one of America's largest Christian youth ministries known as The Basement will spend the next 10 months in jail after an Alabama judge revoked his probation for a 2012 crime on Tuesday.
The evangelist made headlines in August after he jumped off a 45-foot cliff in an unsuccessful attempt to elude Alabama police for allegedly impersonating a police officer for the second time since 2012.
Shelby County District attorney Robby Owens told AL.COM on Tuesday after Pitt's revocation hearing that Pitt should have pleaded to a felony for impersonating a police officer in 2012, but he had offered him a chance to plea to a misdemeanor thinking that the youth pastor would stay out of trouble with his work at The Basement. He expressed regret at the turn of events and said he felt betrayed.
"In this job sometimes you just take risks on people, give people a chance," said Owens. "Everybody makes mistakes and you can't judge what might happen in the future," he noted.
"His (Pitt's) past has a color to it but his recent past has been doing some good things," said Owens of The Basement. "So I gave him a chance to continue those things and he chose to ignore it."
He said law enforcement officers had advised him that they felt Pitt would impersonate a police officer again but "I had sincerely hoped that wouldn't be the case," said Owens.
On May 12, 2012, Pitt was charged with a felony for impersonating a peace officer in Calera, Ala., as police alleged that he flashed blue lights and pulled over cars on Interstate 65 in that state.
An August arrest warrant from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office charged that on June 15, Pitt again falsely pretended to be a deputy sheriff by showing a badge and "making an assertion of right in that capacity." And it upended the lenience Pitt had received from the district attorney.
Owens noted that he avoided presenting a number of witnesses and other evidence such as the presence of prescription drugs in Pitt's system on Tuesday because a clear case for the revocation of his probation was already apparent.
"He had violated terms of probation in so many different ways that I didn't need to get into something that I didn't need to get into" said Owens.
In commenting on the judge's decision the youth pastor's father told AL.COM that what his son was experiencing was a test of faith.
"It's just a test of faith, to stay strong and believe that God's going to do the right thing, which I know He will," said Pitt's father, Larry Pitt.
Fans of the youth pastor also flocked to his Facebook page to show their support.
"You are still my hero Matt Pitt! There's got to be a reason for all this and one day we will know!!! I know there's someone lost inside the place you are at and I pray you find them!" wrote Jamie Rhodes.
"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. In the Gap praying from Kentucky for you Brother!" wrote Chris Barnes. "No matter what the news or others may say! I have sat with you face to face on many occasions… You are a mighty man of God… Today I stand arm in arm in faith and prayer believing that He that starts a great work in you will see it to completion! We rally with you and your family this morning here in the Bluegrass!"
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