A 40-year-old former youth minister plead guilty yesterday to charges of deviate sexual intercourse and corrupting the morals of a 15-year-old boy.
James Wilkerson, who also uses the name James Haynes, was then sentenced as a result of a negotiated plea to a mandatory minimum of five to 10 years in state prison, followed by three years of probation.
Wilkerson was a youth minister at the Summerfield-Siloam United Methodist Church in Kensington when he improperly touched the boy from November 2006 to May 2007.
Assistant District Attorney Richard DeSipio said in court yesterday that Wilkerson told the teen that "in order to ensure spiritual and physical perfection," he had to engage in physical activity with Wilkerson.
The teen knew Wilkerson from attending his prayer services and karate classes at the church.
DeSipio, in reading a summary of facts in the case, said the acts Wilkerson was pleading guilty to occurred both at the church, on Dauphin Street near Tulip, and at Wilkerson's home, also on Dauphin Street, about a block from the church.
Wilkerson performed oral sex on the boy and fondled him, and he made the teen fondle his genitals, the prosecutor said.
When asked by Common Pleas Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd if he was "pleading guilty because you are guilty," Wilkerson, dressed in a blue buttoned shirt and black slacks, answered "yes" in a matter-of-fact tone.
He said nothing more.
In imposing the negotiated sentence, the judge also ordered Wilkerson to stay away from the victim and prohibited him from having any contact with minors and from serving as a youth minister or teacher during the probationary period.
DeSipio advised the defendant that although he is not a sexually violent predator, he still faces lifetime registration under Megan's Law as a sexual offender.
Public defender Tracy Frederick told the court that Wilkerson, a high-school graduate with some college education, was pleading guilty so the victim would not have to testify at trial.
Wilkerson had been charged in August with assault-related charges involving six boys, ages 13 to 16. All the boys had known him through the church.
Charges in four cases were dismissed at his preliminary hearing because four boys did not testify.
At the October preliminary hearing, Wilkerson was held for trial on charges of sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and corrupting the morals of a minor involving the two boys who did testify.
The 15-year-old had testified that the abuse began in November 2006, when Wilkerson touched his private area while the youth group was watching a movie at the church.
During a retreat to Ocean City, Md., in January 2007, Wilkerson woke the boy up by giving him oral sex, the teen said. At another retreat in Lancaster County in April 2007, Wilkerson also touched him inappropriately, the youth had testified.
After the Lancaster retreat, the teen said, the abuse continued almost every weekend until May of last year, when the teen told a friend.
The other boy who testified at the preliminary hearing was the victim's 13-year-old half-brother. He said that Wilkerson played games with the boys in the youth group, during which Wilkerson slapped the boys' backsides.
As part of the negotiated guilty plea, the District Attorney's Office agreed to drop charges against Wilkerson in the case involving the younger teen. It also agreed to drop some charges, including sexual assault, in the case with the 15-year-old. *