A Canton youth pastor will go to trial rather than accept a plea agreement on a charge alleging he sexually assaulted an underage girl last spring, his attorney said Friday.
That means Jason Phillips faces a prison term of as long as 15 years if he is found guilty of criminal sexual assault in the trial set for April 18.
Phillips, 36, had been expected to enter a guilty plea Friday in an agreement that his attorney, Kevin Sullivan of Peoria, had negotiated with Fulton County prosecutors. He was prepared to do so in December, but the agreement that included a sentence was rejected by a judge, who then was required by law to recuse himself.Here we have a pastor who tried to reach a plea agreement but fell short, most likely do to inadequate sentence. Apparently the judge wanted him to serve some real time. What I don’t understand is why he tried a plea agreement at all. Back in June of 2010 he was cock sure that the allegations were false, .
"I'm very saddened by the false accusations," said Phillips, 36, who faces one felony count of criminal sexual assault in Fulton County Court. "These are false charges."His pastor was sure too.
The Rev. Kevin Van Tine, the church's founder and senior pastor, also spoke Thursday about the incident.
"We're saddened by the recent development," Van Tine said. "We believe these to be false accusations."His church, the Community Fellowship Church in Canton still believes in Pastor Jason Phillips. He’s still listed on their website.
Pastor Jason Phillips was born and raised in Canton and is a 1993 Canton High School graduate. After a radical transformation by the power of Jesus Christ, Pastor Jason felt the call into the ministry and continued his education at Christian Life School of Theology. In 1996, he began working part-time at CCFC. After witnessing his dedication, commitment and ability to minister effectively, the Board of Elders, along with Senior Pastor Kevin Van Tine, asked him to join the staff in full-time ministry in 1997. Ordained in 1998, Pastor Jason serves as associate pastor.And pastor Jason is blogging his sad story too. He’s cast himself as the victim, as a Christian who is being persecuted by the forces of Hell (that would be the DA btw).
Pastor Jason and his wife Ashley have been married 10 years and have two children: Camri, 4; and Micah, 2. Ashley presently is attending Methodist School of Nursing, working toward earning her bachelor of nursing degree.
As most of you know, I'm in a battle for my life. Jesus didn't promise us a "rose garden" tour of life, but said that we would be persecuted from every side as we follow Him. As we face trials and tribulations or even a challenge, we tend to ask ourselves, "What am I going to do?"But what of the victim? What of her family? Somebody lost the political battle. I’m betting it was a 15-year-old girl
Good luck when you roll the dice Pastor Jason – you will need it.Ask for the top bunk in prison.
Update 4/25/2011: Jason Phillips was convicted.