LAFAYETTE—The Rev. Stanley Daniel pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy and two counts of distribution of obscene material Thursday morning in front of Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge Tom Young, who sentenced him to 20 years each on the first two charges and 12 months each on the second two.
Defense lead attorney Thomas J. Spina of Birmingham and associate attorney John Tinney asked for a split sentence, which was not opposed by District Attorney E. Paul Jones. Under the terms of this agreement once Daniel serves five years he would be released on five years' probation.
Jones told the judge he would expect the evidence to show at trial that Daniel was in charge of a program for troubled youths when he engaged in sexual intercourse, sodomy and oral sex with one of the youths in the program.
When Daniel, 60, then of 2509 County Road 87, was arrested last May he was pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church on U.S. Highway 431 near the Rock Stand community and administrator of the church's Pearls of Promise Girls Academy, since closed. It was founded in 2004 to care for abused, abandoned girls ages from 10 to 18 years of age.
The judge had ordered the felonies to run consecutively, which means he would serve one 20-year-sentence followed by the second 20-year sentence. The 12-month sentences, involving the sexually explicit text messages and photos of Daniel's genitals sent to the teenager, would be served at the same time as the five-year sentence.
The judge said he does not normally allow defendants to turn themselves in later but since an agreement had been reached he set a July 1 date for Daniel to turn himself in to the sheriff.
The judge ordered Daniel not to have any contact with the victim and not to work full-time or part-time in the ministry.
Using strong wording, the judge told Daniel if he violated his probation in any way, no matter whose fault it is, he will revoke probation and send him to the penitentiary.
Jones said he was pleased the victim did not have to testify because in cases such as this telling in detail on the witness stand what occurred can be as traumatic as the actual events.
She would have had to listen as they showed photos of the defendant's genitals that he had sent her as well as sit in the courtroom while each text message of a sexual nature was read, Jones said.
"Anybody that thinks he is not guilty I would say we don't prosecute cases unless we believe what we are alleging actually took place," Jones said.
While the upcoming court dockets will be cleared for additional cases by this and the plea by Mayor Spec Bonner, he said, the dockets are in great shape anyway.
Tinney said, "Stanley regrets the position that he found himself in in this case. He entered a plea we thought was in the best interest of everyone concerned. It was not a plea that was lightly taken in any sense of the word. The charges were serious and after considering all the facts in the case we thought it was best to dispose of the case the way it was," Tinney said.
Daniel has agreed not to hold ministerial positions and not to do anything in the ministry that would put him in the position of dealing with young people. However, he will be allowed to do prison ministry or revivals, Tinney said.