It’s been almost seven years since a young Georgia teen confessed to her parents she tried to slit her wrists after a trusted pastor sexually assaulted her. The victim, now 21, learned this week that the man she once put her faith in would walk away without any jail time.
AJC reports that 40-year-old Jason Brothers admitted to “touching the victim’s breast and vaginal area” as part of a negotiated plea deal that allowed him to plead guilty to sexual battery on a minor and avoid jail time. After his court confession, Brothers was released and allowed to go back home to Ohio, where he’ll serve 10 years on probation.
“Someone I knew and trusted invaded my body and soul,” the victim said in court, according to the outlet. “Some days, I don’t even recognize myself or the person I have become as this trauma has shaped me into someone else.”
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According to Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jeff Langley, the plea deal was as good as he could do after the case was taken on by attorney and state House Speaker David Ralston. Brothers hired Ralston, who’s accused of using his political power to delay the case numerous times. It’s something Ralston has been accused of doing in other cases on many different occasions.
Langley said the victim’s age when her case was finally heard in court, along with the time that passed, ultimately hurt the prosecution’s chances of getting a stronger sentence against Brothers.
“The jury sees a 21-year-old woman, not that 14-year-old victim. We were relying on witnesses remembering something that happened in 2012. That makes it difficult on prosecutors. It raises all those questions about how clear are memories.”
Since Brothers has been on house arrest for close to six years while awaiting the outcome of his case, he’ll end up serving around four years on probation. However, he’ll also have to register as a sex offender with the national sex offender registry and he’s been banned from interacting with any female child under the age of 16.
According to the victim’s mother, Laurie Wilson, the family begrudgingly decided to agree to the plea deal in an attempt to spare the victim from a traumatizing trial and any possible appeals. Still, the punishment didn’t fit the crime, Wilson said.
“I feel like he got just a slap on the wrist,” Wilson told the AJC. “I think that’s what all Ralston’s clients intend to get, which is why they hire him.”
According to court documents, Brothers assaulted the girl in her own home, in October 2012. The pastor, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was staying with the family while preaching at the North Mt. Zion Church of God in Hiawassee, Georgia. The victim said she got up to get something to drink one night when the man grabbed and sexually assaulted her.
The victim said she chose to forgive the man for her own peace of mind, but her panic attacks and nightmares continue to be a constant reminder of what happened to her.
“I know in my heart that the charges on the paper will never compare to what he did to me that night. But I hope after all this time I will finally be able to get some peace and move on with my life as a stronger person than I was before.”
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[Feature Photo: Jason Brothers/Police Handout]