On May 9, 2019, David Lynn Richards Jr., a former priest who was found guilty of repeatedly raping his teenage adopted daughter was sentenced by a Knox County judge to 12 years in prison.
The former priest received support from friends who were present in court at the time of sentencing.
Richards Jr. continued to say he was innocent, and he had said during his trial. He asked Judge Steve Sword for leniency.
It is not usual for the press to identify the name of a victim who was sexually abused. However, Amber Richards chose to reveal her identity and publicly speak after Richards Jr. was sentenced in February 2019.
Amber sat on the other side of the courtroom, with approximately six other people. The girl’s biological parents were also present, as she had reconnected with them a few years ago.
In a victims impact statement, Richards said that she wanted to throw her body away. There was not a day that went by that she did not think about what her stepfather the former priest did to her. She added that she believes if the former priest had the opportunity, he would do this to another girl.
She also said what Richards Jr. did to her ruined her life.
Richards Jr. decided to take the stand. He painted his adopted daughter who was a teenager who was defiant. She made the allegations that he sexually abused her because he was a strict father who imposed rules on his children.
Forensic DNA testing found seminal fluid with the former priest’s DNA on the frame of Amber’s bed.
A jury in Knox County found the former priest guilty on nine counts of felony including incest, rape, and sexual battery after testimony was heard for three days in February.
Sword had latitude in deciding the sentence. Most of the charges including rape could have been given a punishment of probation. Only the sexual battery charge had a mandatory sentence of incarceration for three years.
The former priest said that he stands before the court convicted of several crimes he did not commit. He said he believed the system made a mistake. He continues by saying he was not sure why he was there, but God has his purpose.
Prosecutors asked for 72 years, the maximum amount of time.
The judge acknowledged the former priest’s time in the ministry and the support he has as factors for the time frame of his sentence.
Over 30 people came to support the former priest.
The judge noted that the former priest started to abuse Amber when she was 14-years-old and, it was consistent for two years until she reported it. The judge also discussed how Richards’ abused the fact he was Amber’s sole guardian and broke her trust.
Richards Jr. was joined on May 9 by Stephen Ross Johnson, his new attorney. Johnson said he plans on filing for a new trial.
Written by Barbara Sobel
Knox News: Former pastor sentenced to 12 years in prison for repeated rape of adopted daughter
Featured and Top Image Courtesy Of Brent Moore’s Flickr – Creative Commons License
Former Priest Receives 12 Years for Raping His 14-Year-Old Adopted Daughter added by Barbara Sobel on May 9, 2019
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