Ex-pastor jailed for running off with teen girl

/ Source: The Associated Press

A former Baptist pastor who disappeared with a 15-year-old girl for a month and later pleaded guilty to raping her was sentenced Friday to more than 11 years in federal prison.

Lewis Lee, 54, admitted in May to four federal charges, including crossing state lines to have sex with a minor. In August, he was sentenced to 9 1/3 to 28 years in state prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of third-degree rape.

Lee will serve 11 years and three months in a federal prison and then the remainder of his time in state prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas McAvoy also ordered Lee to be supervised by authorities for 25 years after his release.

“Mr. Lee you have gone a long way to destroy the lives of the victim and her family. It is beyond my power to describe how heinous this crime is,” McAvoy said.

The judge said he had little faith Lee could be rehabilitated in prison.

Lee was ordered to pay nearly $67,000 in restitution to cover the cost of mental health treatments for the girl and for some of the income the family’s farm lost while the family searched for the teen.

McAvoy also imposed a list of restrictions if Lee ever gets out of prison, including barring him from ever having unsupervised contact with any minors.

‘This has been like living a nightmare’
At the sentencing, the victim’s mother said Lee, their pastor and friend, “betrayed” them, and described the family’s ordeal.

“This has been like living a nightmare ... but I never wake up, and it never goes away,” she said.

The mother said her once-cheerful daughter has been left “confused, hurt and angry.”

Lee, who is married, had been the girl’s pastor at Christian Baptist Church in the central New York town of Sherburne before the two disappeared in mid-March from her family’s dairy farm. The girl left willingly, but the state’s legal age of consent is 17.

The pair set off a nationwide search, traveling as far west as Wyoming before Lee was arrested in April in Hagerstown, Md.