Aug 10, 2016

Sellersburg pastor charged with abusing students accepts plea deal

Morgan Lentes, Reporter
August 8, 2016

A man charged with abusing children at an Indiana boarding school accepted a plea deal on lesser charges.

Christopher Williams pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal recklessness.

On Monday, the prosecution admitted the case was not as severe as first thought.

Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mill said through the investigation, they discovered Williams had not intended to hurt the children in his care.

Williams had little to say when he asked about accepting a plea deal.

Williams and Pastor Jerry Harris were first accused of beating children at the Well of Grace Boarding School, where both men worked.

But Mull said those accusations could not be proven during the investigation.

"Our investigation simply revealed that these were troubled youths, that he was trying to help them the best way that he knew how but ultimately he went too far and paddled them too hard," Mull said.

Attorney Larry Wilder said his client is glad the case is resolved.

"Because you know, up until that point, Chris and the pastor were looking at an excess of 25 years in prison so, you know, he's going to go home and do 87 days on home incarceration, have some misdemeanor convictions and learn a big lesson in life," Wilder said.

Mull said he doesn't believe either man intended to hurt the children in their care.

The defense argued certain punishments were acceptable at Crossroads Baptist Church in Sellersburg, where the boarding school is located.

"Outside the church, what is perceived as being appropriate sometimes isn't the same as inside the church," Wilder said.

"I think that the plea agreement today achieved justice, held him accountable for that but also was the appropriate level of punishment for this offense," Mull said.

Harris also accepted a plea deal on three counts of criminal recklessness in May.

The Well of Grace Boarding school is no longer open.

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