A former Spokane Valley church elder has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for molesting a girl in his congregation over a period of eight years.
Edward N. Davis, 40, was an elder at the Jehovah's Witness Opportunity Kingdom Hall when the abuse occurred. The girl's family apparently was close friends with Davis.
Davis was accused of touching the girl underneath her clothing several times and once forcing the girl to perform a sex act on him. The abuse started when the girl was 10 years old, according to court documents.
The documents say Davis began repeatedly calling the girl and leaving notes on her car after she moved out of the family home, when she turned 18. The parents reportedly became aware of the abuse last year.
The documents say the victim's mother confronted Davis over the phone and he admitted the abuse. The family then approached the other elders of the Opportunity Kingdom Hall to ask for guidance. Jehovah's Witness elders are unpaid volunteers who are selected to lead the congregation, making them similar to pastors.
The victim's mother, who asked not to be identified, said the elders agreed to "disfellowship" Davis, throwing him out of the church for two years.
But six months later Davis was back in the church, though not as an elder. That's when the victim and her parents went to police.
The family had no intention of reporting the abuse until the elders violated their agreement, the victim's mother said. "They promised two years. Our thought was that the children would be protected."
When Davis was banned, the congregation was not told why, she said.
"Jehovah's Witnesses aren't supposed to tell anyone," she said. "It's been kept very quiet."
According to court documents, the church elders also refused to help the detective assigned to investigate the case, saying that Davis spoke to them in confidence.
Neither an elder of the church nor Davis' attorney returned calls seeking comment. Davis could not be located for comment.
Davis originally was charged with first-degree sexual misconduct and stalking. He pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and was sentenced Monday. In addition to the jail time, he will be on probation for two years and is required to register as a sex offender.
Davis is not scheduled to report to jail to serve his sentence for a couple of weeks, deputy prosecutor Patrick Johnson said.