Ex-Victory employee Chris Denman gets 55 years in sex crime case
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
12/13/12 at 7:40 AM
A former Victory Christian Center employee was sentenced Wednesday to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to several sex crime charges involving three underage girls.
Chris Denman, 20, was sentenced by Tulsa County District Judge Bill Musseman to 55 years in prison and five years of probation on counts of 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 was also ordered to pay a $12,000 fine plus court costs.
"He is not a person who should ever be in our society again," Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said. "The victims and family are all pleased with the outcome."
Denman admitted raping a 13-year-old girl in a stairwell at Victory Christian Center - a 17,000-member megachurch in Tulsa - this summer, as well as molesting a 15-year-old girl and making a lewd proposal to a 12-year-old.
He entered his guilty plea without a deal with the District Attorney's Office and faced the possibility of life in prison.
McAmis said the nature and location of the crimes make this case particularly heinous.
"Little girls, he said, are easy," McAmis said about statements Denman made. " 'Little girls can't say no and won't say no,' he said. And that's why he sought out little girls.
"This defendant completely fails to recognize the incredible cowardice of his actions."
The court heard two victim-impact statements that said the victims have suffered from physical and emotional trauma related to the sexual abuse.
"Something was stolen from my daughter that can never be replaced," the mother of one victim wrote in one of the statements. "God willing, you will spend your life in prison."
It is Tulsa World policy to not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Some of the victims and their family and friends were in the courtroom Wednesday and became emotional at several points during the hearing.
McAmis said that while committing one of the crimes, Denman told the girl that "he claimed to have found the love of Christ" and asked her to pray with him.
"She will forever remember this defendant used God and his alleged love of Christ against her," the prosecutor said.
"How can she ever feel safe in church again"? she asked.
Denman, wearing black and gray striped jail clothing, sat in shackles in the jury box with other jail inmates who had hearings on the same docket.
The other inmates often looked shocked as the attorneys spoke about the crimes, while Denman remained stoic with his head down.
In a statement Denman made before his sentence was handed down, he told the court he was sorry for his crimes and then quoted the Biblical parable of Jesus telling the pharisees that "he who is without sin cast the first stone."
"I'm not trying to get away from my problems," Denman said. "I'll admit to everything I did."
Musseman recognized that Denman took responsibility for his actions but said crimes involving the sexual abuse of children must receive significant punishment.
"The punishment for that kind of crime must be severe," the judge said.
Four of the counts require that a defendant serve 85 percent of any prison term before being eligible for parole from prison.
Denman will be in his 70s before he can be released from prison and would then be required to register as a sex offender.
Denman, who has been in the Tulsa Jail since Sept. 5, worked this summer as an intern at the church's youth camp, Camp Victory.
He also worked as a janitor at the church along with Israel Castillo, 23, who has been charged with making a lewd or indecent proposal to a child and using a computer to facilitate a sex crime.
Castillo's charges involve a fourth child - a 15-year-old girl. Castillo's next court appearance is scheduled for January.
Hearing on alleged failed reporting postponed
A hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday for five current or former Victory Christian Center employees who are charged with failing to report child abuse was postponed until January.
Prosecutors allege that the employees knew about the allegation that a 13-year-old girl was raped in the church but did not report it to police for two weeks.
Paul Willemstein, 32, Anna George, 24, Harold Frank Sullivan, 73, Charica Dene Daugherty, 27, and John Samuel Daugherty, 28, are each charged with one count of failure to report child abuse.
Willemstein, George and Sullivan are due back in court Jan. 16.
The next hearing for Charica and John Daugherty is scheduled for Jan. 25. Charica and John Daugherty are the daughter-in-law and son of Sharon Daugherty, Victory Christian senior pastor.
The Daughertys, Willemstein and George are youth ministers, and Sullivan was the church's human resources director.
Original Print Headline: Ex-Victory worker gets 55-year term
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Chris Denman is led into a Tulsa County Courtroom with other jail inmates Wednesday. The former Victory Christian Center employee was sentenced to 55 years in prison plus five years of probation for sex crimes against children. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Judge Bill Musseman: "The punishment for that kind of crime must be severe."