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Updated: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jamie Worley Pleads Guilty to Harassment, Avoids Prison

pastor jamie worley

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2018, Jamie Worley, a pastor at Powell Valley Church in Gresham, Oregon, was convicted of numerous sex-crime charges.

Garrett Andrews, a reporter for The Bulletin writes (behind paywall):

When Jamie Worley’s attorney made his closing argument, last week, he told jurors only one of two things could be true: Either his client’s accuser had created her story, or that Worley was indeed the “monster” portrayed by the prosecution.

Wednesday afternoon in Deschutes County Circuit Court, the jury provided the answer.

James Daniel “Jamie” Worley, 45, a Gresham pastor and onetime Bend resident, was found guilty of seven sex-related felonies against a former family member in a case that stretches back six years and involves abuse that took place around the turn of the millennium.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on eight other counts. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said his office will decide in the next few days whether or not to try Worley again on those charges.

The verdict shocked Worley and the family and friends who packed the courtroom. A jury in an earlier, related case in Tillamook County had found Worley not guilty on several charges, and deadlocked on others.

In casual exchanges this month around the Deschutes County Courthouse, Worley expressed cautious optimism he’d again be found not guilty. He wanted to move on with his life, he said.

None of the six men and six women seemed to look at Worley as they filed past him on Wednesday.

“Why?” a red-faced and tearful Worley asked himself repeatedly after the verdict was read. He said it looking toward the ceiling with his hands turned up. He said it again as he looked at the jurors who spent four weeks hearing evidence and four days deliberating.

Worley was originally arrested in 2014, based on accusations made two years earlier. The family member described abuse that took place between 2002 and 2004, when Worley and his then-wife lived in Bend.

….

Following Wednesday’s verdict, Worley’s current wife, Joanne, said the family hasn’t given up. “He is innocent,” she said multiple times. “There is so much the jury didn’t get to hear.”

After the verdict was read, Worley’s distraught mother, Connie Worley, startled the courtroom. She pointed at Judge Beth Bagley as she was leaving, wagging her finger.

“You,” Connie Worley said. “You.”

….

A May 1, 2018 report in The Bulletin states:

Former Gresham pastor James Daniel “Jamie” Worley was sentenced to 12½ years in prison Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court for sexually abusing a family member when he lived in Bend in the early 2000s, when his victim was between age 5 and 7.

Worley’s recent trial lasted four weeks before a jury returned guilty verdicts on March 14.

The drama on Monday came down to whether Judge Beth M. Bagley would choose to run three 75-month sentences concurrently — as the defense had asked — or consecutively, as the prosecution asked.

Bagley said that despite an expert witness who testified Worley represented a low level of risk to the community, the pain he caused his victim needed to be addressed in her sentence.

“We as a society say child sexual abuse is intolerable,” she said.

Bagley ultimately gave Worley two consecutive 75-month sentences, with the third to run concurrently.

Worley, 45, was additionally given 10 years post-prison supervision during which the only children he may spend time with are his own.

He also now owes about $20,000 as a result of this case. He was ordered Monday to pay $12,000 in compensation to his victim for the therapy she’ll undertake as a result of the abuse.

….

Worley’s conviction was later overturned. He was subsequently retried, entering an Alford plea to one count of misdemeanor harassment.

The Bulletin reported at the time:

Following an assist by the U.S. Supreme Court, a onetime Bend resident remains a guilty man, but one no longer guilty of child sex abuse.

In a short hearing Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court, James Daniel “Jamie” Worley, 48, pleaded guilty by Alford plea to one count of misdemeanor harassment, having once faced more than 30 counts of child rape.

In an Alford plea, a defendant accepts responsibility for a crime without admitting guilt.

Worley’s plea deal includes no jail time. Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor and as such, he won’t have to register as a sex offender. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim for three years.

A $12,000 fine imposed at his last trial, which he has paid, remained in place.

In March 2018, a jury convicted Worley of seven sex-related felonies against a child, and he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He appealed his conviction on the basis of the unconstitutionality of nonunanimous jury verdicts.

Prior to 2020 in Oregon, only 10 of 12 jurors needed to vote guilty in order to convict.

That April, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, striking down nonunanimous jury laws in Oregon and Louisiana and sending back hundreds of cases for re-trial, including Worley’s.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel opted to re-try him, maintaining he believed Worley was guilty.

Hummel spoke out against Oregon’s nonunanimous jury law in an article about the law and the Worley case in The New York Times. In the same article, Worley professed his innocence: “I did not do these things. What more can I say than I didn’t?” he’s quoted as saying.

The allegations against Worley were first made in late 2012 and concerned abuse said to have taken place in the early 2000s, when Worley and the victim lived in Deschutes County.

In 2014, he was indicted by a Deschutes County grand jury, charged with more than 30 counts of child rape. He was arrested at his home in Gresham, where he worked as a pastor.

The trial was delayed by a different trial with the same victim in Tillamook County, where Worley’s family had also lived. The jury there ultimately found him not guilty of several charges and deadlocked on others.

New York Times article on Worley’s case.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Lindsey

    Connie Worley was detained in court after the finger shaking, spoken to by the judge, put in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom, fined $500 and jailed for 24 hours for contempt of court for this incident.

  2. Avatar
    Jamie Worley

    Do you plan on doing a follow-up story on this? He was set free from prison and the case dismissed. These were false allegations. Further, I have been reinstated as the Lead Pastor of the church that stood by me the nearly ten years I fought for my innocence. Will you write about this? If not, why? If so, let’s get started. I’m easy to find. Here’s the link to my four-part story: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwUkPQhMoN2SLlclOsRjIWgPtxMX8gwBk

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Actually, you entered an Alford plea to one count of harassment, so the case was not dismissed, nor were you found not guilty. As far as the allegations being false, I could find no public reports detailing your claim. You believe the victim is lying. All I do with the Black Collar Crime Series is report on public news stories. If you have verifiable evidence for your claim that the victim lied, please send it to me and I will update this post.

      I have written almost a thousand Black Collar Crime stories. I have had numerous people contact me to say so and so preacher is innocent. Most often these people are lying. Courts determine guilt, not innocence (as my editor and lawyer friend reminds me.

      As far as your church standing by you, that doesn’t carry much weight with me. Countless church members have flocked to this site over the years to defend their pastors and claim their “innocence.” In every instance, they were wrong.

      If there is anything else that needs to be added to this story (of a public, verifiable nature) please send it to me.

      BTW, why did you assume I wouldn’t update this story?

    • Avatar
      Sage

      The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

      How sad for your church. I hope they keep you away from children. You must have some guilt since you “accepted responsibility” through your Alford plea. I’m sure you have an excuse for that, however.

      • Avatar
        Jamie Worley

        As an innocent person, what would you have your son do if he were in such a situation? It’s sad for a church to stand by a person who is falsely accused? Why should they keep me away from children? Do you know what an Alford Plea is? If you went to prison unjustly and nearly ten years of your life was stolen, would you protest much?

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Clever fellow: Thinks that his actions were all God’s actions through him. He does not finally feel responsible for what he has done because he has been called to a higher purpose? He is Joseph, betrayed by his brothers?
    Maybe your purpose is not on a podium with your ‘teaching’… Maybe your purpose is really for one person you vilify by placing your prison clothes at the bottom of the Cross. Maybe until you tell the whole truth, you will have to perform. It feels good to perform, I suspect. It helps to cover it all over…

    • Avatar
      Jamie Worley

      No, I simply believe that it was part of God’s sovereign plan for me to be there. There is no responsibility to be taken for these false allegations. My purpose is between God and me. Are you saying that I am vilifying Christ by placing my prison clothes at the foot of the cross? How does that vilify Jesus?

  4. Avatar
    Jamie Worley

    Just seeing this. Sorry for the delay. I made the offer of a Class-B Misdemeanor of Harassment, which is the equivalent, for example, if I threw a paperclip at you and missed. Because it was not part of the original case, they had to dismiss the entire case and reopen a case with this harassment charge. So yes, the entire case was dismissed (the case with all of the charges reflective of the false allegations). I also pled with an Alford Plea, which strongly reflects my claims of innocence.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      “Alford plea is a type of plea agreement where a criminal defendant pleads guilty to an offense but at the same maintains his or her innocence. By using this type of plea, the defendant acknowledges that there is enough evidence to potentially convict and that the plea will help minimize any criminal penalties.”

  5. Avatar
    Jamie Worley

    I do not acknowledge, nor have I ever acknowledged in any way, shape, or form, that there is enough evidence (or any evidence) to potentially convict me. In fact, I demanded the medical evidence regarding this case be presented in trial, however, the DA moved to dismiss the evidence. There is so much folks don’t know, but the coming book to be published nationally will clear this up. There are a lot of folks on the wrong side of this book, just as many Christians as non-Christians. People want to believe in the justice system. People want to believe others are guilty of evil, regardless of innocence. I used to be both of those people, but after a close look at both the justice system’s actors and the public, I am no longer deceived by their projections or by my own wants and desires.

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Bruce Gerencser