Ex-Tulsa megachurch janitor sentenced to 18 months
- Article by: JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS
- Associated Press
- October 18, 2013 - 4:55 PM
TULSA, Okla. — A former janitor at a Tulsa megachurch was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison for making a lewd proposal to a 14-year-old girl.
Israel Castillo, 24, who worked at the 17,000-member Victory Christian Center in south Tulsa, pleaded guilty in August to sending lewd Facebook messages to the teenage congregant. He had no pre-arranged deal with prosecutors, who asked District Judge William Kellough to sentence Castillo to 15 years in prison during Friday's hearing.
Castillo's defense attorney, Jill Webb, argued that Castillo should not be locked up for a good part of his life over what amounted to a three-hour Facebook conversation with the girl, which she did admit was wrong.
"He's never touched a girl in his life," Webb said. "He's a virgin."
However, Sarah McAmis, director of the Crimes Against Children Division at the district attorney's office, told the judge that Castillo had failed to accept full responsibility for what he had done and described how his actions demoralized the girl.
"As a result, she was ostracized from her church and youth group and she took on a lot of the blame herself, even though this isn't her fault," she told the court. "She was a vulnerable girl and he took advantage" of that.
Castillo offered a tear-filled and rambling, often incoherent, apology, saying his dreams and hopes had been crushed and that he wasn't the person many people made him out to be since his arrest.
"I'm not a monster," said Castillo, looking down and wiping away tears with his shackled hands.
Kellough seemed to agree with parts of the defense argument, noting there was no assault and no physical contact with the victim.
"This is a difficult decision," he said before passing the sentence, which will require Castillo to serve more than four years of probation and register as a sex offender.
Friday's sentencing brings to a close the criminal portion of the scandal that engulfed the worldwide ministry last summer.
Another former Victory janitor, Chris Denman, was sentenced to 55 years in prison in December for sex crimes including the rape of a 13-year-old girl in a ministry stairwell. Five Victory employees — including the son and daughter-in-law of ministry co-founder and head pastor Sharon Daugherty — were charged because they waited two weeks before reporting that rape to authorities.
The only remaining piece of the Victory scandal involves a civil claim brought last September by the mother of the 13-year-old rape victim. She alleges the church was more worried about damage control than the well-being of her daughter — an argument the ministry denies. That case is set for a January jury trial.
In March, youth pastors John and Charica Daugherty received five-year deferred sentences after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of waiting to report the August 2012 rape. The couple was ordered by the court to visit at least 20 organizations that work with children, such as churches and day cares, to talk with employees about promptly reporting abuse.
Three of the Daughertys' co-workers also pleaded no contest to failing to report child abuse. Paul Willemstein and Anna George were sentenced to 30 days in jail, and Harold "Frank" Sullivan received a one-year suspended sentence.
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