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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Larry Mullins Sentenced to 15-45 Years in Prison for Sexual Abuse

pastor larry mullins

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, I posted a story about Larry Mullins, pastor of Apostolic Christian Ministries in Nebraska City, Nebraska being arrested and charged with sexually abusing a minor.  A year later, Mullins was found guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child and six other charges.

The Sandhills Express reported:

In closing arguments, Defense Attorney Robert Schaefer said the 70-year-old Mullins has been afflicted with hip and back problems leading to surgery and said he suffers from long-term troubles in balance and personal mobility.

He said Mullins was physically incapable of performing the acts as alleged by an 11-year-old girl, who was in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

Deputy Otoe County Attorney John Palmtag told the jury that “disability is a weak defense.”

Palmtag: “The claim that he was not able of performing these ‘not rigorous’ sex acts, I think holds no water. The jury should find it holds no water.”

At trial, the prosecution showed a two-hour video of the girl’s interview at the Child Advocacy Center. Palmtag said the girl was truthful in the video, in a deposition with lawyers and on the stand during trial.

Palmtag: “There’s not anyone in her extended family that would tell her to do this stuff, would sit down with her and concoct this incredibly intricate story to take down Larry Mullins. There’s just no reason. There’s no motive.”

Palmtag also offered an explanation for why the girl did not come forward earlier, over the four-year period. She did not alert her parents until March of last year, when she said Mullins hit her after she resisted his attempt to put his hand under her shirt.

Pamtag: “She was confused, she was scared. Larry Mullins was telling her she would be hurt. He was telling her that she would lose her family. He was telling her not tell anyone. He’s a trusted adult.

In August 2019, Mullins was sentenced to 15 to 45 years in prison for sexual assault of a child.

Nebraska River Country reported:

Nebraska City preacher Larry Mullins was sentenced in Otoe County District Court Wednesday to 15 to 45 years in prison for sexual assault of a child.

Mullins’ attorney Robert Schaefer said any lengthy time in prison will be a life sentence for the 70-year-old preacher, who had established the Apostolic Christian Ministries in Nebraska City.

Mullins: “But as far as some of these accusations, I’m sorry, but they are not true. There was no penetration there was no of this other and I’m sorry. I don’t know where it went, but I am sorry for what it has done to my family.”

District Judge Julie Smith noted pre-sentence evaluations describing Mullins’ attempt to minimize his responsibility and claims that he was set up.

Smith: “The evaluator wrote that you are attempting to portray yourself as the victim of your grandaughters’ lies.”

The judge read a statement from one of the victims.

Smith: “You’ve caused so much pain and nightmares and I barely have any more tears to shed because of the pain you have caused me physically and emotionally, so let me say this to you, God have mercy on you Grandpa Larry and I also forgive you.”

Deputy Otoe County Attorney John Palmtag asked the court to pass sentence for the maximum prison term of 50 years.

Palmtag: “Mr. Mullins took advantage of his position in the community as a minister. He took advantage of his position in his family as a grandfather. He committed some of the most horrific criminal acts someone can commit.”

At trial, Schaefer noted that one of the victims wrote a statement when she was about six years old recanting allegations against Mullins. Prosecutors never brought charges regarding the first girl.

Smith: “I understand that you have support of family. I understand that there are people in the community who simply cannot believe that you did this, but I was at the jury trial and the jury convicted you of all nine counts.”

Judge Smith told Mullins that he has credit for 415 days already served and could be released from prison in 22 years with good time.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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