Photo Credits: International Business Times
Pastor David Richards, 41, from Tennessee repeatedly raped his adopted daughter, starting when she was just 14 years old. She eventually told authorities when she was 16 years old. A Knox County jury found Richards guilty on nine felony counts, including rape, incest and sexual battery by an authority figure following three days of testimony in February. Prosecutors sought the maximum term of 72 years behind bars. He was sentenced 12 years in prison Thursday by a Knox County judge.
Despite the fact that forensic testing uncovered the presence of seminal fluid with a DNA profile matching that of David Richards on the girl's bed frame, Richards continued to maintain his innocence and claimed his young victim made her allegations of sexual abuse because of his strict parenting.
During his sentencing hearing, dozens of people told the judge about what a wonderful Christian man he was. Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword fell for it.
The judge acknowledged Richards’ longtime ministry — he began a Bible study among his fellow inmates while jailed at the Knox County Detention Facility — and the support he still receives as mitigating factors.
More than 30 people sat on the defendant’s side of the courtroom in a show of support, including David Thompson, who shared ministry duties with Richards at My Father’s House Church of God in Lenoir City.
“I find it impossible for me to believe he’s guilty of this,” said Thompson, who echoed the call for leniency. “His business needs him. His family needs him. Our church needs him.”
"I wanted to throw my body away," Amber Richards, the victim, said as she delivered her victim impact statement Thursday. "Not a day goes by that I don't, in some way, think of what he did to me. ... I firmly believe if given the opportunity, he would victimize another young girl."
David Richards said: 'I stand before you convicted of crimes I did not commit. I simply believe the system just erred in this case. I'm not sure why I'm here but I assume it's for His purpose.'
If His purpose has anything to do with raping, incest and sexual assault; then being atheist might be a good decision. Nothing in this man’s Christian faith prevented him from raping his daughter, but the same faith helped him to get only the fifth part of the sentence for his crime.