TULSA (AP) – Arraignment for a former employee of a Tulsa megachurch who allegedly made a lewd or indecent proposal to a child was postponed Monday until Jan. 22 to give attorneys more time to file motions.
Israel Castillo, a 23-year-old ex-janitor at the 17,000-member Victory Christian Center, is accused of sending explicit Facebook messages to a 14-year-old girl he had known for at least two years. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. A judge already decided last month that there was enough evidence for Castillo to stand trial.
Six other people involved in the case have separate court appearances scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Twenty-year-old Chris Denman pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to six felony charges, including rape, related to three underage girls. He was accused of the August rape of a 13-year-old in the church stairwell before service, molesting a 15-year-old and making a lewd proposal to a 12-year-old girl. Denman could get life in prison when he is sentenced Wednesday.
Five employees of the church, including the son and daughter-in-law of Victory head pastor Sharon Daugherty, also face misdemeanor charges for allegedly waiting two weeks to report the alleged rape of the 13-year-old girl by Denman.
John and Charica Daugherty, Paul Willemstein, Anna George and Harold “Frank” Sullivan have each pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to report the abuse in a timely manner and all are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
The 13-year-old’s mother has sued the ministry, accusing employees of trying to cover up the abuse by not reporting the rape to the authorities while it did an in-house investigation. She says the church was more interested in damage control and attempting to make her daughter feel as if she was somehow to blame for the assault.
In September, after the five church employees were arrested for not reporting the abuse, the ministry issued a statement accepting blame for the delay and vowing to work with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to audit its reporting policy.