TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A former youth pastor accused of having multiple sexual encounters with a 15-year-old from his church pleaded guilty to a felony charge of Sexual Misconduct with a Minor during a hearing Tuesday.
Darrell Coffman, 31, was first arrested in October 2011 on allegations he had had sex with the boy, whom he had met through his work at Promised Land Apostolic Church in West Terre Haute.
On Tuesday, Coffman pleaded guilty to the Sexual Misconduct charge as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that capped his sentence at ten years in prison and required Coffman to register as a sex offender. After entering the plea, prosecutors and Coffman's defense argued sentencing.
Ultimately, Coffman was given an eight-year sentence, with six of those years to be spent on in-home detention and two years to be suspended and served as probation.
While on the stand, Coffman offered an apology to the victim in the case.
"I ask for your forgiveness," Coffman said. "I admit to the things said. I feel awful."
Coffman's defense also interviewed a mental health expert who had evaluated Coffman. That expert testified that Coffman did not have a propensity to crime and was not likely to re-offend. He also testified that Coffman's crime resulted, in part, from tension between Coffman's sexuality and his own religious and moral standards.
Prosecutors, however, argued that Coffman had violated his position of trust as a youth pastor. The victim's mother said she forgives Coffman but called for strict punishment.
"My family will always be affected by this," she said.
In the end, Vigo County Judge John Roach said that, while Coffman's crime was serious, Coffman had a clean criminal history and was unlikely to commit the same crime again.
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