FAIRFAX, Va. (ABP) – A former British Baptist pastor pleaded guilty Nov. 3 to four counts of sexually molesting the young sons of family friends while on visits to their Northern Virginia home over a period of several years.
In an arraignment hearing, Fairfax County Circuit Judge Robert Smith accepted Robert Dando’s pleas and scheduled a sentencing date. He questioned Dando to ensure that his plea was genuine and uncoerced. Smith also asked the defendant if he was aware that the pleas could result in his deportation and that he was subject to a minimum prison sentence of four years and a maximum sentence of 80 years. Dando informed the judge that he was fully aware of the consequences of pleading guilty.
Dando, 46, was accused of sexually abusing two boys, starting when they were ages 7 and 8, over a period of five years during visits to a family friend in the United States. Police say the first alleged victim, now 21, came forward in December, and after investigation the first victim’s now-teenaged brother claimed abuse under similar circumstances.
Fairfax County officials said one of the victims claimed that Dando molested him by touching his genitals on 50-60 different occasions between ages 7 and 12. In the hearing, Fairfax County prosecutors also said that Dando had admitted, under questioning, to touching young boys in the United Kingdom in a similar fashion.
Dando resigned as pastor of Worcester Park Baptist Church in suburban London after he was arrested July 24 in Oakton, Va. He had served from 2005-2007 as a volunteer executive assistant to David Coffey, a fellow British Baptist who was then president of the Baptist World Alliance.
In the Nov. 3 plea hearing, Smith set Dando’s sentencing date for 10 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2011, in Fairfax Circuit Court.
Robert Marus is managing editor and Washington bureau chief for Associated Baptist Press.
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