Judge gives pastor who raped daughter, 14, a soft prison sentence ‘because he is a man of God’May 15, 2019
A PASTOR who raped his own 14-year-old daughter for two years was given a soft prison sentence because he is a "man of God".
David Richards, 41, was sentenced to 12 years in jail, 60 years less than the maximum term sought by prosecutors.
Judge Steven Sword cited his work as a pastor and the Bible study group he began in jail as mitigating factors in the lenient sentence.
Richards, of Knox County Tennessee, was found guilty of rape, incest and sexual battery by an authority figure for abusing his adopted daughter for two years, Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
His daughter Amber, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she believes he could attack another girl, "given the opportunity".
'HE COULD DO IT AGAIN'
In an emotional victim statement, she said: "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.
"I firmly believe if given the opportunity, he would victimise another girl,’ she continued."
Richards continued to maintain his innocence throughout the trial and attempted to paint his accuser as a rebellious teenager who first made her allegations of sexual abuse to act out against his strict rules for his children.
Forensic testing uncovered the presence of his semen on the girl's bed frame.
Richards said: "I stand before you convicted of crimes I did not commit. I simply believe the system just erred in this case.
I didn't really do this for me I did it so it didn't happen to anyone else, so nobody's in the same situation as I am
"I’m not sure why I’m here… but I assume it’s for His (God’s) purpose."
Speaking after her dad was found guilty in February, Amber said: "I'm glad I can finally move on with my life.
"I didn't really do this for me I did it so it didn't happen to anyone else, so nobody's in the same situation as I am, especially kids, they don't deserve to go through things to do that.
"If I have to be the one to make sure that it never happens again I don't mind doing that."
Richards was formerly a pastor at My Father’s House Church of God in Lenoir City.
More than 30 members of his congregation sat on his side of the courtroom to show their support on Thursday.
David Thompson, who shared ministry duties with Richards, testified in his defence, saying "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."
Richards is seeking a new trial.
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