A former Indiana youth pastor was sentenced to 20 years in prison for molesting 11- to 13-year-old boys for years, court officials said.
The man, Scott Christner, 46, who had previously served as a youth group leader for First Baptist Church in Goshen, pleaded guilty in November to several child molesting charges.An Elkhart County judge sentenced him Wednesday to three nine-year sentences for felonies, ordering him to serve 20 of those years in prison, with seven suspended.
Christner molested several boys ages 11 to 13 beginning in May 2012, NBC affiliate WNDU of South Bend reported. His crimes continued until July 2019, months before he was arrested in November.
A victim came forward with allegations that led to Christner’s arrest, according to a 2019 arrest affidavit. Several other victims and their parents followed.
Additional Elkhart Superior Court records filed in December 2019 said a parent of a victim told investigators: “Christner was a trusted member of the church and was considered family.” The man said he had left his son alone with Christner.
Christner’s attorney, who could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday, had argued for probation.
One of Christner’s victims and some of the other youths’ parents who attended Wednesday’s sentencing appeared frustrated when he apologized, WSBT-TV of South Bend reported. Some parents wrote letters to the court, while others took the stand, telling the court about the mental and physical trauma Christner had caused their children.
One victim wrote about Christner’s “Double life, pretending to be a kind, giving man, while also molesting kids,” WNDU reported.
The father of a victim identified only as victim 2 said in court that he took his kids around Christner during “sporting events,” “birthdays” and especially “church functions,” completely unaware of the trauma Christner had inflicted on his child, WNDU reported.
The father of another victim, identified as victim 4, said: “You molested my son at a party. There were other people around.”
He added that he believed Christner was not “remorseful for his actions, but that he got caught,” saying that he “only stopped because he got caught.”
Christner expressed remorse at the hearing, WSBT reported.
He said he has been at home in counseling since 2019. He also said he had been hoping for forgiveness from the victims and their families. Christner added that he was hoping for a lighter probationary sentence to pursue his dreams and take care of his older family members, WSBT reported.