YORK, Va. (ABP) — A former youth pastor at a Southern Baptist church in Virginia has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for sexually assaulting two teenage girls.
Jeremy Duffer — known as "Pastor Jack" to youth and adults at Seaford Baptist Church near Hampton, Va., where he served from January 2008 until his arrest in August 2009 — pleaded guilty in February to one charge of an indecent act with a child and eight counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Duffer originally faced a total of 18 felony charges that could have carried a sentence totaling 165 years, but entered into a plea bargain to have the charges against him reduced.
York-Poquoson Circuit Court Substitute Judge William Andrews sentenced the 41-year-old Duffer to five years on the indecent-act charge and 10 years on each of the eight aggravated sexual battery charges, according to the Williamsburg/Yorktown Daily. The judge suspended eight years and six months on each charge, leaving Duffer with 17 years of active time to serve.
Duffer was arrested Aug. 13 on charges of taking indecent liberties with a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Authorities said the charge stemmed from a single act that occurred sometime between July 24 and Aug. 8 of 2009.
He was released on $20,000 and was re-arrested Aug. 21 on multiple charges of aggravated sexual battery involving another teen in incidents beginning in February 2008.
The mothers of both girls testified at his sentencing hearing.
Before coming to the Seaford church Duffer, married and the father of four, was for five years pastor of University Avenue Baptist Church in Honolulu. The Hawaiian church has more than 600 members and is consistently in the top 10 Hawaii Baptist churches in baptisms.
Announcing his impending move to the mainland in November 2007, Duffer described it as "a return to my passion for the youth."
Duffer was suspended from his position at Seaford Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, Aug. 12, the day church leaders learned he was under criminal investigation, and formally terminated Sept. 6. Prior to his arrest he worked as a pastor for a total of 17 years.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.
Previous ABP stories: