Until recently, a former choir director at the New Testament Baptist Church (North Highlands) had only been accused of having sexually assaulted one teenage boy, with whom he worked in his capacity at the church. Now, the 42-year-old man has been identified as someone who abused another victim. Local law enforcement officials now believe that there may be other potential victims that have yet to come forward, especially 2 other church choir members in their teens who complained about the man’s sexual advances, but never filed formal charges.
In California, a ‘child’ is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years and when such a child is abused sexually, prosecutors take these allegations seriously. Specifically, ‘sexual abuse’ occurs when an individual touches a child in any way that causes the adult to feel sexually aroused (CA Penal Code 288). If the child in question is under the age of 14, penalties are strict. Anyone convicted of sexual abuse of a child under such an age could end up spending 8 years in state prison and adding a ‘strike’ to their record under the California Three Strikes Law. Penalties can even rise to as high as 10 years in a state prison if force was used during the abuse.
No matter what, a person convicted of any violation of CA PC 288 will be required to register, for life as a sex offender. This is, perhaps, the most difficult part of sentencing when it comes to cases like this. Registration as a sex offender often means being socially ostracized and difficulty finding a job once released from prison. These types of cases, as the one seen above, often also involve false accusations. Even if an initial accusation is found to be accurate, there will likely be others who wish to jump on the proverbial bandwagon in order to receive monetary compensation or media attention. It remains to be seen how many alleged victims will come forward in the case of this church choir director.