MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

October 29, 2012

Former Tulsa church worker pleads guilty to rape

— TULSA — A former employee of a Tulsa megachurch accused of raping a 13-year-old girl pleaded guilty Monday to six sex-crime charges.

Chris Denman, 20, faces up to life in prison after entering the pleas. He is due in court Dec. 12 for sentencing.

Denman was accused in the August rape of a girl on the campus of Victory Christian Center, a worldwide ministry located in south Tulsa that has 17,000 members. Denman was also charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl and making a lewd proposal to a 12-year-old girl.

He pleaded guilty Monday to all charges filed against him: first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy of a child, lewd molestation, making a lewd proposal to a child and two counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime.

Dressed in a gray and black-striped jail uniform, he said only, "yes, sir," or "guilty" to Judge Bill Musseman. Even though Denman decided to plead guilty, Musseman told the 20-year-old that his sentence would not be a short one.

Attorneys said Denman's plea was not a result of an agreement with prosecutors, who plan to hold an "aggravation hearing" at his sentencing to demonstrate the need for a tough sentence.

"We're glad he will not be subjecting the victims to a lengthy court process," said Sarah McAmis, director of the Crimes Against Children Division at the district attorney's office.

Denman told a judge at Monday's hearing that he made the decision on his own to accept the plea deal.

Denman's attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday afternoon.

Five employees of the church, including the son and daughter-in-law of head pastor Sharon Daughtery, also face misdemeanor charges for allegedly waiting two weeks to report the alleged rape. They have pleaded not guilty and are due in court Wednesday.

The 13-year-old's mother has sued the church seeking more than $75,000. She claims the church sought "damage control" rather than pursuing the case properly.

After the hearing Monday, the church issued a statement, stating that the ministry was "glad to see a quick resolution to this trial for the sake of the victims and their families."

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