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Tag: Pastor Robert Wyatt

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Robert Wyatt Convicted of Sexual Assaulting Church Girl

pastor robert wyatt

Robert Wyatt, youth pastor at Agape Bible Church in Thornton, Colorado, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for sexually assaulting church girl.

Fox 31 reports:

A former assistant pastor was sentenced to 13 years in prison Tuesday for sexually assaulting a girl that initially was covered up by church leaders and the girl’s father, the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said.

Robert Wyatt, 51, repeatedly sexually assaulted the now-15-year-old girl whose family attended Agape Bible Church in Thornton, prosecutors said.

Wyatt gained trust from the girl and her parents, and got access by home-schooling her in his residence.

The girl told investigators the inappropriate touching started when she was 12 and had been going on for nearly two years.

In March 2016, Wyatt offered to take the girl on a field trip but instead they went to a hotel where he sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said.

“Mr. Wyatt describes this as a ‘stupid decision’ but this wasn’t a mistake. He saw he could manipulate the victim and her family. It was a calculated, methodical decision by the defendant to take advantage of this young girl,” senior deputy district attorney Patrick Freeman said.

“He is a sexual predator.”

Church leaders and the girl’s father tried to keep Wyatt’s crimes from being reported to police.

“Those who attempted to hide him from justice share blame,” Freeman said.

“You were in a position of trust with the church and as her teacher,” Adams County District Judge Don Quick told Wyatt at the sentencing hearing.

“You preyed on her emotional and physical vulnerabilities. Over and over again you planned how to groom her so that you could commit these acts. You took advantage not just of her body but her heart, telling her that you loved her.”

Quick was also critical of church leaders and the girl’s father for how they shifted blame to her and trying to handle things internally.

“I’m still shocked at how certain adults responded to this,” Quick said. “She didn’t put him in prison. He put himself in prison.”

Wyatt pleaded guilty in July to attempted first-degree assault and sexual assault on a child.

He was charged last year with one count of sexual assault on a child, one count of sexual assault on a child as a pattern of conduct and one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

In September 2016, Fox 31 reported:

Police documents and former congregation members allege that Agape’s head pastor, Darrell Ferguson, knew about the allegations in July and refused to go to police.

A 16-page arrest affidavit describes evidence that Ferguson knew about the allegations by July 21, when Wyatt reportedly confessed the crime to the girl’s parents.

“Ultimately, Darrell and [the girl’s parents] agreed to not report the sexual assault to the police or social services because they were concerned with what would happen to Bob,” the affidavit alleges.

It is important to know when Ferguson found out about the alleged abuse because in certain circumstances, if a member of the clergy knows about child abuse and does not report it, it might be a crime.

The Problem Solvers pressed Ferguson on the issue. In a recorded phone conversation, he said he didn’t report it earlier to police or the congregation because “the sexual assault on a child, that wasn’t known until the arrest.”

Wyatt stepped down from his leadership position on July 21 and remained at Agape as a member of the congregation until his arrest.

On Tuesday, Ferguson was asked, “You’re saying you, as church leaders didn’t know that it was sexual assault against a child?”

Ferguson replied, “The, uh, the eldership, let’s see I’m just now getting on the highway here. The eldership, you’re asking when the eldership, when the leadership of the church discovered that it was sexual assault on a child?

“That happened the day of the arrest. That’s when that came out.”

Over the weekend, Ferguson sent a letter to the congregation apologizing for making what he describes as misleading statements.

“Dear Agape,
In my phone conversation with the reporter from FOX31, when I answered her question about when the leadership knew, I said it was when the arrest was made. I began my sentence with “The other elders … but that part was edited out.”

FOX31 edited Ferguson’s response for time in the story that aired. In no part of the interview did he specify he was talking about the other church leaders, excluding himself.

Since Ferguson is the head pastor at Agape, it was FOX31’s understanding that when Ferguson was asked “When did you as church leaders know?” Ferguson’s response was referring to himself too.

The rest of Ferguson’s letter to the congregation goes on to support FOX31’s interpretation of his answer:

“I did not intend to deceive her — I just wanted to make the point that the other elders did not know until the arrest. Nevertheless, I do think what I said was wrong. I knew she wanted to know when I found out, and I had been advised by our lawyer not to discuss that in the press, so I got flustered and just tried to divert to something I did want to talk about rather than answer her question. This was wrong, and it ended up being very misleading.”

Ferguson sent a separate statement to FOX31 over the weekend clarifying that he knew about the accusations of abuse before the other church leaders. He also said that under Colorado law, he does not believe that he had an obligation to report the suspected crime to police.

The full statement reads:

“Regarding the Bob Wyatt matter, it is very important to us at Agape Bible Church that all of our communications be completely accurate. To be clear, the statement about first becoming aware of the allegation on Monday applies to the other elders, but not to Pastor Ferguson, who did have prior knowledge. Also, it turns out the other elders actually became aware of the allegation of sexual abuse the day before the arrest.

It is not true that there was collusion with the father to withhold the information. The things that were said to Darrell by the family in confidential pastoral contexts in July were kept in confidence as required by Colorado law (C.R.S. 19-3-304 II and C.R.S. 13-90-107 (1) (c)). Any information that came to Mr. Ferguson outside of those confidential contexts was reported by Mr. Ferguson to the Child Abuse Hotline (report #667944).”


Bruce Gerencser