MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 18, 2013

Ex-Tulsa megachurch janitor sentenced to 18 months

Crime part of scandal that rocked Victory last summer


Associated Press

— TULSA (AP) — A former janitor at a Tulsa megachurch was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison for making a lewd proposal to a 14-year-old girl.

Israel Castillo, 24, who worked at the 17,000-member Victory Christian Center in south Tulsa, pleaded guilty in August to sending lewd Facebook messages to the teenage congregant. He had no pre-arranged deal with prosecutors, who asked District Judge William Kellough to sentence Castillo to 15 years in prison during Friday’s hearing.

Castillo’s defense attorney, Jill Webb, argued that Castillo should not be locked up for a good part of his life over what amounted to a three-hour Facebook conversation with the girl, which she did admit was wrong.

“He’s never touched a girl in his life,” Webb said. “He’s a virgin.”

However, Sarah McAmis, director of the Crimes Against Children Division at the district attorney’s office, told the judge that Castillo had failed to accept full responsibility for what he had done and described how his actions demoralized the girl.

“As a result, she was ostracized from her church and youth group and she took on a lot of the blame herself, even though this isn’t her fault,” she told the court. “She was a vulnerable girl and he took advantage” of that.

Castillo offered a tear-filled and rambling, often incoherent, apology, saying his dreams and hopes had been crushed and that he wasn’t the person many people made him out to be since his arrest.

“I’m not a monster,” said Castillo, looking down and wiping away tears with his shackled hands.

Kellough seemed to agree with parts of the defense argument, noting there was no assault and no physical contact with the victim.

“This is a difficult decision,” he said before passing the sentence, which will require Castillo to serve more than four years of probation and register as a sex offender.

Friday’s sentencing brings to a close the criminal portion of the scandal that engulfed the worldwide ministry last summer.

Another former Victory janitor, Chris Denman, was sentenced to 55 years in prison in December for sex crimes including the rape of a 13-year-old girl in a ministry stairwell. Five Victory employees — including the son and daughter-in-law of ministry co-founder and head pastor Sharon Daugherty — were charged because they waited two weeks before reporting that rape to authorities