A former area youth pastor pleaded guilty in St. Francois County last week relating to sexual assaults involving two underage girls.
On Friday, Brian Cassidy, 35, of Park Hills, appeared with Attorney Thomas Dudash in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Jerel Lee Poor II where he withdrew his previous plea of not guilty, entering a guilty plea to one count of the class B felony of child molestation in the first degree.
Cassidy entered the guilty plea as part of a plea agreement, and St. Francois County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Courtney Goodwin represented the state at the hearing. The court ordered a Sentencing Assessment Report (SAR) and Cassidy is due back for sentencing on April 3.
The former youth pastor was initially charged on June 5, 2018, with a class A felony of statutory rape in the first degree and a class B felony of child molestation in the first degree.
According to a probable cause statement, on Dec. 15, 2017, a Children’s Advocacy Center interview was conducted with a girl less than 17 years old. During the interview, the girl said she was having a relationship with Cassidy, who at the time was a youth pastor at the First Baptist Church in East Bonne Terre.
She described the relationship as sexual and said she had sexual intercourse with him on two occasions. The girl also stated that Cassidy touched her inappropriately on a regular basis. She said it all started shortly after her 13th birthday.
The first incident took place inside the church, and the second time was in a field near the young girl’s home in Ste. Genevieve County. She further reported that Cassidy tried to force himself on her in other ways, but was unsuccessful.
The girl told the caseworker that at the time, another girl, who would have been 15 years old at the time, also had a sexual relationship with Cassidy. She provided screenshots of Facebook messages showing her attempt at blackmailing him.
On Jan. 23, 2018, an officer with the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Department contacted the other girl and was able to get new information for the case. He talked with the teen who said she remembered that two years prior, she and the younger girl snuck out of the girl’s grandmother’s house and met Cassidy.
She said they sat in his car and talked with him for a long time. The detective texted her a photo of Cassidy and she identified him. She also described the vehicle he had at the time.
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She recalled how the other girl was upset at the time because Cassidy allegedly had some form of cancer.
The officer asked if she recalled the other girl ever saying she was through with Cassidy and that she could have him. The teen remembered the girl saying something about that in reference to Cassidy raping her. She also spoke of a time the girl was at her house and they were having a “really deep conversation.”
The younger girl told the teen she snuck out to see Cassidy and something happened. When she started to elaborate, her grandmother called to have her come home. She said this was around the time the girl was worried about him having cancer.
The teen added that a short time later, the girl severed all contact with Cassidy because he was married, and she had also started dating someone else. The officer reported that after the phone call ended, the teen started texting more information about the night the two girls snuck out to meet Cassidy.
She said they were hanging out in his car, but then got out to smoke. While sitting on the hood, the teen said it was cold and Cassidy gave her a blanket. Both girls cuddled under the blanket and after a while, Cassidy had them pick out a knife.
The teen said she picked out a white one because it was pretty. She said he also gave her a Batman toy to keep. The teen told investigators that she didn’t think much of it at the time.
The next day, the officer sent a text to the teen stating he had information that she had sent nude photos to Cassidy. The teen confirmed that she most likely did, but didn’t get any photos from Cassidy. She added that she sent nude pictures of herself to numerous boys/men during that time in her life.
That same day, the St. Francois County detective working the case was able to pull information off the young girl’s phone after the Ste. Genevieve County officer brought it to him.
The detective found screenshots from a conversation with Cassidy on July 14, 2017, where the young girl attempted to blackmail Cassidy by threatening to report him for raping her. The detective noted that in this conversation, Cassidy makes numerous incriminating statements about their sexual activities.
Cassidy also made an incriminating statement in reference to the sexual contact in the church where he reportedly had sex with the girl the first time. He reportedly sent a message to the girl telling her to remember the “church thing” wasn’t just his decision and he has always regretted and felt bad for any wrong-doings.
Cassidy still has pending charges in Ste. Genevieve County where the man is charged with a class A felony of statutory rape in the first degree and a class B felony of child molestation in the first degree.
A court hearing in the Ste. Genevieve case is scheduled for Jan. 21, wherein Cassidy will have the opportunity to enter a plea; otherwise, a trial date will be set in the matter.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org