A former Chester County pastor who acted as a surrogate father to a teenager he impregnated was sentenced to three to six years in prison on Friday, a month after a judge rejected a previous plea deal as too lenient.
Jacob Matthew Malone, who turned 35 on Friday, pleaded guilty at the Chester County Justice Center in West Chester to institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors, and endangering the welfare of children. The former pastor at Calvary Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Downingtown, also will serve five months' probation and will be registered as a sex offender for 15 years.
The woman, now 20, told police Malone gave her alcohol as an 18-year-old and raped her on several occasions while she lived with him, his wife, and their children in Malone's home in West Whiteland Township. Malone, who was her guardian, admitted he gave her alcohol but said the sexual encounters were consensual.
Sexual contact, which included kissing and touching, occurred almost daily during her senior year in high school.
"This is one of the times when the court system fails," said Judge Jacqueline Cody, adding that the woman was technically of the age of consent but that Malone had been acting as her father when he promoted the sexual contact. "You are serving a sentence much lighter than the crime deserves."
The sentence is at the top of standard guidelines. Malone will get credit for the more than one year he has served since his arrest in January 2016.
Under the agreement, prosecutors withdrew the most serious charge of rape. Prosecutors said there was a question as to whether they could prove the absence of consent.
"Sir, you have taken responsibility for a very, very serious series of crimes that have completely altered somebody's life," the judge said, calling his behavior "inexcusable."
Friday's plea was Malone's second attempt at securing a deal for himself. Last month, the judge rejected as too lenient an agreement with prosecutors that would have given him a minimum of two years in prison. The woman also was dissatisfied with that agreement, saying "Jake" had taken advantage of her "mentally, physically, spiritually."
The woman agreed with the new deal prosecutors and Malone's lawyer presented on Friday, and the judge accepted it.
The young woman "is pleased he will be spending an additional year in jail," District Attorney Emily Provencher said.
Evan Kelly, Malone's attorney, said in a statement his client "has always been adamant" he did not rape her.
"He did, however, commit other crimes, and for that he is embarrassed, ashamed and truly remorseful," Kelly said.
"I'm deeply sorry for the way my failures and weaknesses have hurt [the victim], my family and her family," said Malone, dressed in a blazer and slacks and wearing shackles. "She admired me and trusted me, and I betrayed that."
Malone met her when she was 12 and he was a youth pastor at her church in Arizona. After Malone and his family moved to West Whiteland, he invited her to live with them. She helped look after his three children.
She told police Malone began sexually assaulting her in the fall of 2014. Malone resigned from the Downingtown church in November 2015 after church leaders confronted him about the teen's pregnancy and he admitted he had impregnated her. He had been working at the church for about 18 months.
In January 2016, police asked for the public's help in finding Malone, who they believed was trying to avoid arrest. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested him on Jan. 18, 2016, when he returned to Newark Liberty International Airport from Ecuador.
In March 2016, the woman gave birth to Malone's daughter, whom last month she called "a sweet, beautiful and intelligent little girl" in a statement she read in court.