Declaring he "messed up big time" and is "not a crazy sex fiend chasing little kids," a former associate pastor for a Veneta church was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl beginning in 1998 until 2000.
Charles Verl Fenwick Jr., 36, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree rape and three counts of third-degree sodomy after investigators found his DNA in a sperm stain on the girl's high school prom dress.
Before that discovery, however, Fenwick vehemently denied the accusations - causing the victim to be ostracized and labeled a liar by those who believed him, Deputy Lane County District Attorney Bob Gorham said in court.
The girl, a devout church member who looked up to Fenwick when the abuse started, disclosed the crimes a year ago at a church camp in Douglas County. Gorham said Fenwick seduced the girl, in part, with hypnotic relaxation techniques.
"She could not have been more vulnerable," Gorham said. "When she disclosed (the abuse) ... Mr. Fenwick lied many, many times about this. He put her in a position of an accused liar. For so many people to reject her ... only increased the damage to this girl."
Gorham asked Lane County Circuit Judge Lauren Holland to impose the five-year term, the maximum under state sentencing guidelines.
In a statement in court, the girl, now 19, told Fenwick that she lost her church, her innocence, her trust in adult authority figures, her normal high school experience and some of her closest friends.
"But it did not cause me to lose my faith in God," she said.
Addressing the judge, she said the abuse brought her unwanted publicity and undeserved problems for her family and for her mental health. It is The Register-Guard's policy not to identify victims of sex crimes.
"I totally trusted this man. He was supposed to be a man of God," she said. "Sometimes I feel like a loser because I trusted him."
The victim's mother said Fenwick used his position in the church against the family when they confronted him with the allegations. She said her daughter spent 27 days in a hospital psychiatric ward and attempted suicide seven times in the confusion and depression that resulted from the abuse.
"How dare you hide behind your position and lie," she said, locking Fenwick in a gaze as he sat 12 feet away and listened without reaction. "I hope the judge gives you the maximum sentence."
Defense lawyer John Kolego said Fenwick's crimes were "egregious." But he sought leniency, asking what good would come from a prison sentence.
"Sometimes good people do bad things," Kolego told the judge. "He fell victim to the weakness of the flesh."
He said Fenwick was infatuated and flattered, and acted out of selfish stupidity.
The judge noted that Fenwick held himself out as a moral authority and betrayed the trust of a child. Holland told the victim the abuse was completely Fenwick's wrongdoing.
Fenwick can earn a 20 percent reduction in his prison sentence for good behavior. Holland also ordered Fenwick to pay a $7,500 compensatory fine to the victim. She also ordered Fenwick to register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender treatment and not have any contact with juvenile girls during three years of post-prison supervision.
About three dozen spectators, mostly the victim's supporters, remained in court until a uniformed deputy arrived to handcuff Fenwick and lead him away.
The controversy over Fenwick's arrest and conviction roiled the New Hope Christian Center in Veneta, which has been closed since late July.
Pentecostal Church of God district officials have said they closed the center because of financial duress brought on by an exodus of members. But a former senior pastor and several church members say the closure was in retaliation for their support of Fenwick's victim.
Church members are continuing to meet for worship at the Veneta Community Center. They've met with a lawyer and maintain they are the rightful owners of the $1.4 million church.
Monday's sentencing vindicates church members' contention that denominational higher-ups were trying to cover up Fenwick's crimes, said the Rev. Ron Crandall, the church's former senior pastor. "It's proof they were trying to hide it," he said.
Gorham said a number of people who are required by law to report child abuse failed to do so in the case. He said church officials were handling it as an internal matter until Crandall became aware of the allegations and reported them to police. He said the reporting delay stalled the case for about three weeks.
Harold Gore of Drain, executive superintendent of the denomination's Northwest Regional District, did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
Note: A email was received by the Ross Institute now known as the Cult Education Institute subsequent to this article being archived and reads as follows:
Dear Rick A. Ross institute:
I am the relief Pastor for the Veneta congregation. I have been on the inside of this horror. Served 7 1/2 yrs under the honorable minstry of Ron Crandall as his Associate Pastor, and was there when Fenwick worked in Veneta.
I have seen what this has done to this young lady (in and out of the Mental ward), the youth of the church (used to be more young people at service because Crandall has a heart for youth.) good families that left, Senior Pastor and wife's health, living inside of the church because the finances was so bad.
The denomination wouldn't help the Veneta Pastor or church.(only Cae Cordell who is an author and sexual abuse trauma counselor, etc.)
But, the denomination and 35 ministers raised money for Fenwick's defense. I was there when the church was decietfully closed. all of it. And finally what this has done to my wife, family and myself, spritually, physically and emotionally.
I just ask for help in anyway to bring this to justice. We have documents, emails, audio and video to prove that their are more alleged victims, by this man. and that the Pentecostal Church of God are covering this up, lieing, racketeering, shredding of files at the national office, one General board member who has stood up and is being scapegoated, not only him but the Veneta Pastor was scapegoated along with the staff, and congregation for supporting the victim. That is just a list of others, it would blow your mind.
What supposed men of God will do, "In the name of God." and think that they are justified to cover-up, above the law, and not to obey the laws of this land!
I don't no what is worse, a criminal who is steriotypical or a person who is under the guise of supposed holiness?
They have a documented 16yr history of telling their ministers to shut up and tell no one of these atrocities! To never report to authorities, a know pattern of this!!!!!!!
There is a book written about his grandfather and Fenwick's family who also hypnotized his victims. This book is an expose of the PC of G called (Pentecostals and Sexual abuse by Cae Cordell) she has worked close, counseled with the Veneta congregation, staff, pastors and victim. from what this predator and denomination has done.
Major new agencies are interested in this. We have contacted major criminal agencies but seem that they will not move on it at a national level, meaning it is being investigated at a state level. Seems that Sex abuse prosecution is not an important of enough issue in America. Sadly to say. I call it murder of the soul. Those abused walk along with murdered souls. I think that is worse that physical murder.
I am asking for any legal help, pointing of the right direction to get this properly dealt with for the sake of the children. We have been told by authorities that this man alone has 200-250 victims. They are currently investigating him from them in 4 states. CA, OR, WA, and Idaho. who else in this denomination has raped and abused? There is a lot more info that can not even be said in an email!
Now we the congregation are fighting to regain our respect, trust in the community and beloved church back to the congregation.
I ask again for your help in any way.
Jesus said, "Suffer not the little children."
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