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Former youth pastor on trial for second-degree statutory sodomy

FARMINGTON – A St. Francois County jury will begin listening to the second day of testimony in a trial involving a former youth pastor accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl.

Patrick Horton, 33, of Desloge, a former part-time youth pastor at Harvest Assembly of God Church and a former organizer of Liberty Outreach’s Fire Escape Youth Center in Park Hills, has been charged with second-degree statutory sodomy.

On the first day of the trial, jurors heard testimony from five state witnesses and two defense witnesses. The trial was set to resume at 8:30 this morning before Circuit Court Judge Sandra Martinez.

Among the witnesses who testified was the alleged victim, now 16, who testified about a fund raiser she participated in Aug. 17, 2002 for the former Fire Escape Youth Center.

The girl said Horton, who gave her a ride to the center, asked her more than once, “What would you do for $5?”

She said she was very close to the Horton family. Besides being her youth pastor at her church, he was a close family friend whom she had trusted.

She said he took her to a back room in the youth center and she assumed he was going to ask her to clean the room for $5.

Instead, she said he grabbed her by the left upper arm and kissed and touched her inappropriately. She said she was shaking and couldn’t move. She said she didn’t cry or yell.

“I was scared, scared to fight back,” she said. “…I was afraid he would hurt me.”

She said after the 5 to 10 minute incident, he stuck a $5 bill in her back pocket.

“He said not to say anything ’cause no one would ever believe me,” she said. “He said he would deny it to the end.”

She said they went outside to collect money for the center. She said she stood outside for about an hour before she went inside to call her mom.

She said she told her mom what happened and her mom instructed her to go to Subway next door to wait for her.

The girl further testified that after talking to her parents, they met with their pastor, Dwight Jones, and then went to the hospital and Park Hills police department – each time retelling what had happened.

The next day she met with the Desloge Police Department and the Division of Family Services. She again met with an officer at Park Hills on Aug. 20 and had a videotaped interview at the Child Advocacy Center in De Soto on Sept. 11.

She said it was harder each time she had to tell it.

Her mother testified that her daughter’s statements to the officials remained consistent – that she never added or subtracted details.

Her mother, the detective, the nurse and Pastor Jones, recalled on the stand that the girl was shaking and visibly upset as she told the story.

A registered nurse from Parkland Health Center in Farmington testified the girl had a light bruise on her left arm. She said the girl had complained that her upper arm was sore above the bruise.

She said the doctor made a note that there was no obvious vaginal trauma from being touched but there was tissue present that indicated some injury.

Pastor Jones testified that Horton had been hired as a part-time youth pastor a year before the allegations. He and his wife had been youth leaders before and had been members of the church for almost 10 years. He said Horton was terminated as a result of the allegations and he was also asked to stop attending the church.

Jones explained that the Fire Escape Youth Center is not part of the church. It is part of Liberty Outreach.

Jones said he called Horton and his deacons to attend an emergency meeting after he met with the girl and her parents.

He said before he told Horton what the allegations were and who made them, Horton asked, “What did (girl’s name) say I did?”

The pastor said he was stunned by Horton’s question.

After discussing the allegations, Horton requested they call a youth center employee who was at the fund raiser.

He said Horton said he was never alone with the girl. But the employee, who later testified for the defense, said he left Horton and the girl inside the building alone for 5 to 10 minutes while they were filling out waiver forms.

Horton told police he was looking through the waiver forms while the girl was filling out a form in another room. He said he was unaware that the employee had left the building.

Horton told police that he gave the girl $5 when she said she was hungry and wanted to go to Subway.

Horton’s wife testified about the girl’s behavior that day.

She said she knew the girl very well. She described the girl as very outgoing, energetic and troubled.

She said while the girl was collecting money, she was joking around with both her and her husband. She said the girl was dancing around and did not appear to be in emotional or physical pain.

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