Former Wetumpka Pastor Pleads Guilty to 13 State Sex Charges; Federal Sentencing to Follow

WSFA TV, Alabama/September 19, 2006

For many people in Wetumpka, he was the voice of morality and goodness. Then investigators ripped away a cover hiding a much darker side.

Former Baptist minister Garrett Dykes is headed to prison tonight. He pleaded guilty to a long list of sex related charges Tuesday morning.

It wasn't so long ago Dykes had his name on a building, but more importantly, he had the trust of 400 people he led.

"We're hurting here. Yes, we're shocked, but we're hurting," church administrator John Pritchett said in January 2005.

That's when Dykes' world came crashing down. The mother of an 8 year old girl called police the previous November and told them a story nobody wanted to believe. The pastor, they said, was a sexual predator. And surprisingly, after officers arrested him, Dykes admitted it.

"What he told us was almost identical to what the young girl said," explained Sheriff Bill Franklin.

Investigators say Dykes molested the children in his home and videotaped many of the incidents. Tuesday, he took the first step toward a very long punishment. He pleaded guilty to no less than 13 sex related charges.

"He pleaded to four counts of producing obscene material with a person under the age of 17, and nine count of sexual abuse first degree," said District Attorney Randall Houston.

Houston says it's not your imagination. He sees more cases where people in trust violate children. But it's not because there are more predators. It's because people are talking more.

"We're doing a better job as parents," Houston said. "When our kids come and tell us something, we're taking it seriously and we're doing something about it. In the past, I don't think that was necessarily true."

Houston says he wants parents to listen to their children even more. As for Garrett Dykes' former church members, they're trying to find the one thing that may come hardest - forgiveness.

"He's a creature of God," said Pritchett. "I do not approve of the actions he took, but he's a creature of God and I have to love him."

Dykes will stand before a federal judge September 27th, when he'll learn how long he'll serve for sexually abusing a child under the age of twelve.

As for the state charges, he could get ten years to life on each of the four pornography charges and one to ten years on each of the nine sexual abuse charges.

Police first arrested Dykes in November 2004. The Calvary Church removed him from his ministerial position shortly after that. Police say they do not believe any of the abuse happened at the church.

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