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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ronnie Killingsworth Sentenced to 84 Years in Prison for Sex Crimes Against Minor Girls

pastor ronnie killingsworth

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.

Earlier this year, Ronnie Killingsworth, pastor of Rephidim Church (an Independent Bible church) in Wichita, Texas, was charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Texoma’s reported:

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 78, of Wichita Falls, is charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The indictment alleged Killingsworth committed sex crimes against three different female victims under the age of 17 over the course of eleven years.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, officials with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, tasked with prosecuting the case against Killingsworth, filed a notice filled with multiple alleged bad acts or offenses they intend to introduce into evidence.

The state’s notice filed on Tuesday includes previously unreleased details on the indecency charges pending against Killingsworth, the longtime “Pastor-Teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated congregation located on Allendale Road in Wichita Falls.

Previously, it was unknown whether or not the allegations against Killingsworth were connected to Rephidim Church. However, new details in the state’s notice appear to confirm that at least five of the six charges are linked to the church.

The state’s notice alleged that in October 2000, Killingsworth touched a female victim under 17 years old and kissed her.

According to the state’s notice, in September 2001, Killingsworth allegedly touched a second female victim under the age of 17 and told her that if she didn’t separate from her friendships outside of the church, she would be kicked out.

The state’s notice also alleged Killingsworth told the victim that she was a bad child and that God would punish her if she didn’t do what he said. He’s also accused of telling the victim that God would punish her family if she disobeyed.

Court documents alleged that when the victim told her mother that Killingsworth touched her, Killingsworth said that all he did was spank her and that the child was a liar. He is also accused of telling the victim that if she continued to dress provocatively, she would end up getting treated in a derogatory way.

According to the state’s notice, on May 29, 2011, Killingsworth allegedly touched one of the victims, a female under the age of 17, while discussing “duties such as sex and babies.”

Killingsworth is also accused of making the first alleged victim touch him and grooming the victim by showing favoritism by giving the victim books and instructing them to “keep the books secret and not tell anyone.”

….

While released on bond, Killingsworth is prohibited from having any contact with the victims. He is also prohibited from going to the victims’ home, daycare, or school. Killingsworth is also required to provide a specimen of DNA to local law enforcement.

Concho Valley Home Page reported:

Killingsworth is the longtime “Pastor-Teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated congregation located on Allendale Road in Wichita Falls, founded in 1972.

According to former members of Rephidim Church, Killingsworth previously served as the pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Iowa Park before he was asked to resign. A small following of members split from that church and formed Rephidim Church.

In January 1999, several former members of the church told reporters with KFDX and KJTL that they’d decided to leave the church due to the teachings of Killingsworth, claiming they contained “the tell-tale signs of a cult.”

However, during a phone interview with former KFDX Reporter Megan Henderson in 1999, Killingsworth adamantly denied being a cult leader.

After the recent indecency with a child charges were filed against Killingsworth, several former members spoke out with similar allegations.

Many of the “extraneous offenses and bad acts” alleged by the prosecution in the notice filed on Tuesday are teachings from Killingsworth that appear to confirm the statements made by former members of Rephidim Church.

According to the notice, the prosecution alleged that Killingsworth “controlled the congregation through fear, manipulation, and brainwashing.”

The state’s notice alleged that Killingsworth taught his congregation that they weren’t allowed to have a personal relationship with God. They said Killingsworth taught that they couldn’t know God without the teaching of their “right pastor teacher,” who was Killingsworth.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth discouraged his church members from reading the Bible and to only listen to his interpretation. The notice said the congregation was not allowed to question Killingsworth, his teachings, procedures, or authority.

The notice alleged that Killingsworth “preached that he was the only pastor in the United States who is teaching the truth.” The notice said Killingsworth claimed to be the only person in the area authorized to teach God’s word and that “all other pastors in the area are considered evil and leading people astray.”

The prosecution alleged in the notice that Killingsworth taught his congregation the doctrine of separation, meaning that his members were only allowed to socialize with people within the congregation.

The notice said Killingsworth taught that congregants were not allowed to associate with family members unless they were members of the church and that Rephidim members were only allowed to marry someone in the church.

According to the prosecution’s notice, Killingsworth taught that once someone left the church, they were to be shunned or exiled, that people who left the church were called “Satan’s minions,” “enemies of the cross,” or “dead flies.”

The prosecution’s notice also alleged that Killingsworth would single out people from the pulpit, would yell for people to sit down and shut up from the pulpit, and would kick people out during his sermons. Members were not allowed to miss church unless there was a serious medical condition, and if they did miss, they were required to listen to recorded lessons.

The prosecution listed in its notice of extraneous offenses and bad acts several additional teachings and actions of Killingsworth that don’t qualify as a warning sign of a cult but are nonetheless shocking and alarming.

The prosecution accused Killingsworth in its notice of having lunch with a minor child and the child’s parent just days after he was indicted for indecency with multiple children.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth would preach in front of children about sexualized topics from the Bible, including sodomy, rape, homosexuality, bestiality, BDSM, and demonic influences during sex. The prosecution also alleged that Killingsworth taught “rape is divine discipline from God.”

The prosecution alleged in its notice that Killingsworth preached that “all homosexuals should be put to death” and that “gay people are demon-possessed.” They also accused Killingsworth of kicking his own daughter out of the church due to her sexual orientation.

The prosecution also accuses Killingsworth of racist teachings. The notice alleged that Killingsworth taught “the Black race is cursed by God” and that “their skin is black because they are cursed.”

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth allegedly told his congregation not to read certain books or watch certain TV shows and movies. He’s accused of teaching that “Harry Potter would cause children to practice witchcraft” and that “the rhythm of rock music came from African tribes who were worshipping Satan.”

Killingsworth is accused of not allowing women to hold positions of power or be deacons in the church.

The state’s notice alleged Killingsworth told parents to spank their children for any infraction that went against his teaching. They also alleged Killingsworth himself would spank children.

According to the prosecution, Killingsworth allegedly taught that if something bad happened to a member of the congregation, they were being disciplined by God. He’s also accused of dissuading congregants from seeking outside therapy or counseling for mental health medication.

The prosecution also accuses Killingsworth of plagiarizing his sermons and writings. The state also alleged Killingsworth taught lessons by a theologian who was an open antisemite and a supporter of Nazi Germany.

On May 7, 2024, a jury found KIllingsworth guilty and later sentenced him to eighty-four years in prison.

Texoma’s reports:

The same jury of seven men and five women that found a local pastor guilty on six counts of indecency with a child on Tuesday have determined his punishment.

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 79, of Wichita Falls, was convicted on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, of all six counts of indecency with a child by contact that occurred between 2000 and 2011 and involved three underaged victims. The jury deliberated for about 45 minutes.

Killingsworth, who faced up to 20 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000 on each of the six counts, elected to have the jury set his punishment.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in the 30th District Courtroom, the jury returned a total punishment of 84 years in prison and $60,000 in fines after just under an hour of deliberation.

Judge Meredith Kennedy granted a request by the prosecution for the sentences for counts 1 through 4 to run concurrently, with count 5 running consecutively to the first four counts and count 6 running consecutively to count 5.

The earliest Killingsworth would be released from prison would be after serving 21 years behind bars, at which time he would be 100 years old.

….

Killingsworth’s wife and son took the stand for the defense. Allen Killingsworth, a detective with the Wichita Falls Police Department, told the jury that any lengthy sentence given to his father would be a death sentence due to his age.

During closing arguments, Killingsworth’s defense attorney Chuck Smith apologized to the jury on behalf of Killingsworth’s wife for her “attack” on them during punishment testimony on Tuesday afternoon.

….

Smith requested the jury sentence Killingsworth to the minimum sentence of two years on each count due to his age and health, claiming that anything more than that would mean Killingsworth would likely die in prison, and asking them for community supervision on the two probation-eligible counts.

Assistant prosecutor Dayve Jo Estes with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office argued that probation is for those who admit they need help, and that doesn’t describe Killingsworth.

“He is clothed in his self-righteousness so tight, it’s only matched by his arrogance,” Estes said.

Estes asked for prison sentences on each of the six counts due to the message it would send to both the community as well as Killingsworth’s victims.

“Their lives are irrevocably changed. Why should the defendant not feel the weight of that?” Estes asked. “Your verdict will say to the victims, ‘There is a beacon of hope. There are people who will believe you’.”

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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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Life in prison, it’s a fitting sentence for someone who is proven to be dangerous, as well as a cult leader. Being Texas, I assumed he’d get a slap on the wrist, so it was a nice surprise to see the just threw the book at this narcissist pervert !! This is the type of sentencing that needs to happen more often, especially in cases like this one. This former ” teacher” HAS to be familiar with the bible verse warning about the proverbial MILLSTONE around the necks of those who harm/ offend children,right ? Looks like this sentence is just that ! It’s very creepy that his son, Allen Killingsworth, happens to be a police detective! And that he’d go on record defending the actions of his father. Or the wife threatening the jury- THIS is the kind of Anglo- American ” Christianity ” that so many former church attendees have come to LOATHE. And why people, especially youth, rejected church, even if they don’t reject God !

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