Man testifies ex-pastor sexually abused him from age 7 to 16
He was only 7 and he knew it was wrong, yet he said nothing. And it went on for nine confusing years: sexual victimization at the hands of his trusted youth pastor.
The man, now 20, recounted his story to jurors Thursday in a Fort Lauderdale federal coutroom.
“Something told me it wasn’t right, and I still laid there anyways. I didn’t know whether to say something or get up,” said the man, whom the Sun Sentinel is not identifying. “I knew it was going too far.”
The alleged victim was the first witness to take the stand in the federal trial against Jeffery London, 51, former youth pastor at Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale and dean of students at Eagle Charter Academy in Lauderdale Lakes.
London, who also worked at a Boys & Girls Club in Broward County in the 1990s, was acquitted in state court last year on 27 charges that he sexually abused four at-risk boys who lived at his unlicensed foster home, London’s Hotel.
lRelated Ex-pastor and school official on trial for federal sex charge
Ex-pastor and school official on trial for federal sex charge
SEE ALL RELATED
London now faces a lone federal charge of using a cellphone to lure one of those boys, a distant relative, into sexual activity. He has pleaded not guilty and faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.
Legal experts say the new charge is not considered “double jeopardy” because it involves a different alleged crime and was filed in federal, not state, court.
As soon as the jury was selected Thursday in U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas’ courtroom, it heard opening statements from the prosecutor and defense attorney and nearly an hour’s worth of testimony from the alleged victim.
Under the guise of providing a safe haven for children in need, the defendant, Jeffery London, preyed upon the very children that he convinced everybody that he was helping,” prosecutor Jodi Anton told jurors.
He did so, Anton said, through “lies, trickery, deceit, coercion and instilling the fear of God in his victims.”
On the contrary, said Assistant Federal Public Defender Daryl Wilcox. London was an “extraordinary youth minister” who acted as a role model for troubled boys, he said.
@ronlafson Actually, the sermon was “The Great Hairy Root of Life”
AT 10:52 AM JUNE 12, 2015
ADD A COMMENTSEE ALL COMMENTS
“He wanted to do something about the lack of father figures in young men’s lives,” Wilcox said. “He taught them how to be responsible, he made sure they got an education and he taught them how to be men … and he’s repaid by these accusations.”
The alleged victim, Wilcox said, is an “individual who’s very troubled, who’s very confused, who has a great deal of baggage” and is motivated by “a big settlement that [he] and other witnesses are anticipating recovering down the line.”
The alleged victim is one of several young men who have filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages against the estate of one of London’s wealthy benefactors, Wilcox said.
Dressed in khaki pants, a blue-collared white polo shirt and blue sneakers, the young man stammered and seemingly struggled to put words to the abuse he said was inflicted by someone he looked up to, respected, and considered family.
“One day, it just got weird,” he said. “I didn’t say nothing. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do.”
What began as visits for discipline when he acted out in school, escalated from belt “whoopings” to forced oral sex to a one-time anal-sex encounter for money. In return he was rewarded, he testified, with movies, video games, new clothes and his first cellphone.
The first sexual encounter, the alleged victim said, sticks in his mind. London invited the 7-year-old to sleep in his bed, put an arm around him and licked his ear and neck. London pulled the boy’s pants down, pressed against him and forcefully gripped the top of his head to compel oral sex.
“I was so scared … the grip said, ‘I’ll do something if you don’t,'” he testified. “I’m not going to say I was scared of him, but I wasn’t strong enough to stand up towards him either.”
The judge recessed trial as the prosecutor prepared to introduce text messages as evidence. Testimony continues at 9:30 a.m. Friday.