Victory employees appear in court; prosecution asserts obligation to report allegations of sex crimes
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 7:32 AM
The Victory Christian Center employees who are accused of failing to report allegations of sex crimes against children for more than two weeks had a legal obligation to do so, and any argument to the contrary "flies in the face of both common sense and common decency," prosecutors said.
Assistant District Attorney Sarah Mc-Amis filed that court response Wednesday to a motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charges against John and Charica Daugherty, both youth ministers at Victory Christian Center.
The Daughertys - Senior Pastor Sharon Daugherty's son and daughter-in-law - were charged along with three other church employees in September with failing to report child abuse. Tulsa County prosecutors say they waited two weeks to tell authorities about allegations that a 13-year-old girl was raped at the south Tulsa megachurch in August.
Chris Denman, 20, a former employee at the church, pleaded guilty Monday to six felonies - first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy, lewd molestation, making a lewd proposal to a child and two counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. He is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl and committing other sex crimes involving a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old, court records show. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12.
Another former church employee, Israel Shalom Castillo, 23, is charged with making a lewd or indecent proposal to a child and using a computer to facilitate a sex crime.
John and Charica Daugherty, 28 and 27, respectively; Paul Willemstein, 32, associate youth pastor; Anna George, 24, high school outreach program director; and Harold Frank Sullivan, 73, human resources director; all appeared in court Wednesday before Special Judge Sarah Smith to set a date for a motions hearing.
Among the five defendants in the failure to report child abuse case, only the Daughertys had filed a motion to dismiss the charges as of Wednesday afternoon. They contend in the motion, written by attorney Jason Robertson, that they were not required to report the allegation because Denman and Castillo were not "responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the child" - a provision of the child-abuse reporting law.
They also argue that because Denman and Castillo were not charged with "child abuse," the Daughertys could not be charged with "failure to report child abuse."
McAmis said in the state's response that the line of arguments is "disingenuous, sad, and contrary to both the legislative intent and plain language of the law."
Those involved had a responsibility to report to police the alleged rape based on the fact that they had "reason to believe" the sexual abuse had occurred, McAmis said. The statute does not stipulate anything that would prevent or slow that process of reporting, she said.
According to McAmis' response, Denman is accused of having forcible sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old on Aug. 13. The victim then told Willemstein two days later.
Charica Daugherty is alleged to have learned about sexually explicit messages allegedly sent by Castillo to an underage girl on Aug. 22, the filing states. No reports were made to the Tulsa Police Department until Aug. 30.
McAmis' response also states that several meetings were held during that time with others in the church, including Sharon Daugherty and Steve Worley, director of facilities at the church. Neither has been charged.
Denman and Castillo were brought in to speak with Worley and were told their employment was terminated Aug. 24, according to McAmis' response. In the meeting, both told Worley that they had broken the law, McAmis alleged.
McAmis also alleged that according to Castillo, "Worley told Castillo that he wished it could all be 'covered up' but that he did not think it could be done."
Denman and Castillo may not have been directly involved with the care of the girls in their capacity as janitors at the church, but as part of the Victory Christian staff, they shared in responsibility for the girls, McAmis said.
"At that moment in time, each adult who was employed by the Church and/or participating in or helping with the Youth Program became a temporary custodian to the minor girls," McAmis said. "The girls' parents had every reason to expect that their girls were being cared for."
McAmis said Oklahoma's laws regarding child sexual abuse and reporting that abuse are clear and place emphasis on protecting the child above everything else.
"It must be the goal of our community and our Legislature to protect children and to err on the side of protecting children rather than to allow individuals to escape responsibility based upon a legal argument that is convoluted and offensive," she said.
The Daughertys filed their motion last month and have a hearing set for Nov. 19. Willemstein and George are also due to appear in court that day. A hearing for Sullivan is set for Dec. 12.
Original Print Headline: DA calls reporting of rape an obligation
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
John and Charica Daugherty leave a hearing at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Wednesday. They and three other Victory Christian Center employees are accused of failing to report child abuse. MIKE SIMONS/ Tulsa World