Archive for Thursday, December 4, 2008

Former Lawrence church youth group leader sentenced to nearly five years in prison for sex with minor

December 4, 2008


A Douglas County judge on Thursday sentenced a former Lawrence church youth group leader to serve nearly five years in prison for having a three-year sexual relationship with an underage girl about eight years ago.

“(The crime) has a long-term effect on the perpetrator. It has an effect on the victim, and it has an effect on the institution that he represents,” Douglas County Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild said.

A defense attorney for Christopher L. Cormack, 38, now of Billings, Mont., had asked Fairchild to depart from the state sentencing guidelines and instead give Cormack probation.

A jury in October convicted Cormack of aggravated indecent liberties with a child for having a sexual relationship with a girl who was younger than 16 years old. The victim, who was 24 when Cormack was convicted, came forward with the allegations in late 2007 after she heard he was taking a ministry job as a chaplain at Kansas State University after he attended seminary in California.

“I want to express my profound remorse for my actions many years ago that caused so much pain and anguish,” Cormack said while asking Fairchild for leniency. “I wish there was some way that I could undo the damage I have done, but that's not possible.”

During a hearing last week about 25 people testified to Cormack’s character and asked Fairchild to give him probation.

But Fairchild said the Legislature had clearly defined punishment for sex offenders, and he said that Cormack had abused his position of power as a youth group leader.

The victim in the case also told Fairchild Thursday afternoon that Cormack’s actions had a negative impact on her junior high and high school years.

“It took me a long time to realize he took advantage of me and his power over me when I was a child,” she said.

Defense attorney John Kerns said Cormack has hired an attorney to handle an appeal of his sentence, and Fairchild agreed to set a $100,000 appeal bond.


Quigly 8 years ago

To those people who testified for him. You are just as bad as the convicted. You disgust me, all of you.

DGL 8 years ago

Judge Fairchild is a wise judge, but 5 years in prison seems like a short sentence for statutory rape of a 15 year old girl. The fact that he committed this act over a long span also speaks more about the youth group leader's character more than 25 people can.

akt2 8 years ago

Once a pervert, always a pervert. He deserves prison.

flux 8 years ago

5 years....hmmm...............I dont know how I fell about that

Lowell Holmes 8 years ago

Hmm five years for statutory rape 14 days for killing someone, seems fair to me!

woodenfleaeater 8 years ago

flux, you fell about 5 years...I hope you're ok!

getthefullstory 8 years ago

does anyone know the whole story? was anyone in court to hear both sides?

Quigly 8 years ago

Hear both sides? what is the "other side" of the story. That she came on to him? Go smoke some more crack "getthefullstory". Maybe your name is Lester also? What is wrong with you?

Ceallach 8 years ago

The whole story? He accepted a position as youth group leader . . . she was a youth . . . he was supposed to be helping her with spiritual development . . . instead he helped himself to her. End of story!

Quigly 8 years ago

PEOPLE!!! CMON!! What is wrong with you. No wonder this town is whacked. edjayhawk???? mixed signals? 3 year 1 2 5 8 I don't care how many years. First of all it is the LAW!!!! Second, the man was 30 years old. Are you serious? You are intelligent enough to use a computer, yet you get mixed signals from this story. What kind of drugs are you on? Are they legal cause I want some "ignorance is bliss" crack? Are you buying it from a giant, blond headed, alien that said" I come in peace"(aka Dark Angel 1990)? What is going on here? I am going to look it up, but I don't see where he pleaded innocence.

goodnessgracious 8 years ago

Anybody know what church this all happened at?

compmd 8 years ago

Cormack had 25 people testify on behalf of his character, and the judge played the "think of the children" card.And a $100,000 appeal bond? Seriously?

Quigly 8 years ago

Its sad and I hate to sound like some super angry old man. But this is getting out of hand. It is sad to say but maybe harsher sentences and fines will deter Lester. We could be doing much worse. There could be death sentences , hands being cut off, other things. This did happen a long time ago and we can blah blah about time length all night. Point is, it was wrong then it is wrong now. If he needs to be an example so be it. He can preach in prison, to his cell mate Jerry"the angry biker who has a 15 year old daughter" . I come in peace.

Confrontation 8 years ago

I bet that Judge Paula would've given him community service.

Shardwurm 8 years ago

If the sexes had been reversed and the 15-year-old had been the male he would have tried to contact her at Kansas State and hook up again instead of calling the police....and all his friends would have been high-fiving him.Funny about the double-standards our society has. (Not in court but 'amongst ourselves')

dweezil222 8 years ago

edjayhawk (Anonymous) says… Its unfortunate and plain wrong that guys who are only 18 or 19 who have a consensual relationships with a 16 or 17 year old are sent to prison for 20 years and forced to register as a sex offender..Thats all I'm saying.=========================I agree. Statutory rape laws are rife with the potential for abuse. Especially given the nature of the consequences, which literally extend for life. To the doubters, google Genarlow Wilson and tell me the law isn't flawed.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"I knew a lot of guys in college who dated high school girls. So are they considered sexual predators as well?""I've been canvassing the high schools all day."

jonas_opines 8 years ago

Yikes, should have read the shirt first. Lewd phrase, pull if necessary.

getthefullstory 8 years ago

quigly, you don't come in peace, you are an angry person. you don't know the whole truth and you and willingly obvious to the details.

DGL 8 years ago

edjayhawk: you're misinformed. Under Kansas law, a 16 or 17 year old can consent to sex with someone who is 18 years of age or older. A 15 year old cannot legally consent to sex with someone older than 18, and that is statutory rape. There are "Romeo and Juliet" laws that except relationships where the age difference is 3 years, but this was pretty clearly a cut and dry case of statutory rape.

alm77 8 years ago

Jonas, somedays, don't you wish there was a delete button? hehe

remember 8 years ago

"To those people who testified for him. You are just as bad as the convicted. You disgust me, all of you."Quigly, after a statement like that, I don't much like you either. Yes, I was one of those who gave my support to my friend Chris during his time of need. We friends and family stood by him because we care about what happens to him. Whatever happened to love the sinner, hate the sin? Nice to know you're ready to throw your loved ones under the bus at a moment's notice.The main thing to remember is that our support for him was not a protest of the conviction. The conviction had already happened, this was the sentencing. As for me, I lent my support because I did not believe his going to jail would benefit the victim, Chris, or the people of Kansas. In my statement, I put this incident into the larger picture of his life, and considered what had already been done to him. He is now a convicted felon, lost all possibilities for a career in his chosen field, spent tens of thousands on a legal defense, and will have to register as a sex offender wherever he lives. As far as punishment goes, those things right there will be with him much longer than a jail sentence ever will be.The other thing I stressed during my support is how disgusted I am when people try to use the word "pedophile" to describe him, as has been done in previous comments about LJWorld's coverage of the case. His actions and behavior have never shown he had a pattern of unnatural attraction to children. This case, as bad as it was, was not in any way a pattern or predictor of future behavior. Once again, the argument of jail to "get him off the streets" doesn't hold water. And before you ask...yes, I do know him well enough and for long enough to make that judgment about his behavior.Beyond that, if you want to know more about what happened before you start spouting off on some holier-than-thou virtual lynching, I suggest you get a copy of the trial's transcript to learn more than the few sentences this website gives the story. Cover your sensitive ears.....there are some doubts as to the accuracy of the dates of the incident and the true impact when considering the victim's behavior towards him as recent as 3 years ago. And the argument that a job at KSU would endanger minors again? That's a stretch. The only two people who really know the truth about what happened are Chris and the victim. All we can hope for is due process within the legal system (yes, that includes the appeal) and their final decision will be respected.

Shardwurm 8 years ago

"Its unfortunate and plain wrong that guys who are only 18 or 19 who have a consensual relationships with a 16 or 17 year old are sent to prison for 20 years and forced to register as a sex offender..Thats all I'm saying."Kansas has 'Romeo and Juliet' law - in this scenario it is not considered rape.

former_kansan 8 years ago

remember Your right. Pedophile is not the right word for this "man." how about CONVICTED CHILD RAPEST.

outdoor55 8 years ago

rememberJust because someone loves God, societies favorite imaginary friend... They shouldn't go to jail for a crime?

CrazyDiamond 8 years ago

Where Cormack messed up was, he didn't get drunk and mow her down with his car before she talked to the authorities. Had he done that, who knows? Maybe only 14 days in jail...

jonas_opines 8 years ago

alm77: As long as it doesn't get it pulled, I guess I don't need it.

whatupdown 8 years ago

Just wait till your drunk self stumbles into the wrong restroom at McDonalds at 2am and ends up wearing a GPS and being labeled a sexual predator for life, or you forget your glasses and go into the wrong restroom and there is a little girl in there.. give him life.. throw away the key...hang him.....

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"Just wait till your drunk self stumbles into the wrong restroom at McDonalds at 2am and ends up wearing a GPS and being labeled a sexual predator for life, or you forget your glasses and go into the wrong restroom and there is a little girl in there.. give him life.. throw away the key…hang him….."Right, because these are absolutely the same as the scenario in question. I'm sure he just stumbled into the bathroom with her a couple times and so everybody thought he was engaging in a relationship with her, including her.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

Oh wait, I remember you now. Nevermind.

whatupdown 8 years ago

Jonas; I recommend the big game hunting trip with Dick Chaney.

flux 8 years ago

Five years is too extreme, considering the outcome of all the other cases in Lawrence right now. The guy is obviously a creep and a manipulator but come on, she let it go on for 3 years. Its not so cut and dry.

kugrad 8 years ago

Does anyone know if Cormack is still married? I'm just curious as I know he married around the time he left to go to seminary.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

Yeah, imagine if he had been having a gay relationship with a younger boy.

KansasVoter 8 years ago

Five years in prison for what was basically a consensual relationship? That sounds like a waste of my tax dollars. The law may call it "statutory rape" but nobody was raped, and nobody should go to prison for it, IMO.

rachaelisacancer 8 years ago

I don't know this guy or the victim and could care less about anyone's defense of either, for the most part. But for those like "whatupdown" who would dare to question motive from the victim's position, all I've got is a big STFU.It's sick to be 24-years-old and think back on a 30-year-old taking advantage of you when you were 16, regardless of any circumstances (alcohol, church group, McDonald's restroom). You, "whatupdown", clearly have no way to relate to the way that kind of incident makes you feel, even 8 years down the road. So you can call the victim's motive however you want it. But until you're a 24-year-old woman who remembers a 30-year-old taking sexual advantage of you when you were 16, you've really got nothing to say. It's sick and it can make you feel sick for the rest of your life.

flux 8 years ago

Rachael, he wasnt 30 at the time, more like 20.

whatupdown 8 years ago

They are going to eat you for you math flux

kugrad 8 years ago

No, he wasn't 20. I am going to estimate about 28 or so - he was college-graduate age plus a couple years at least at the time. Definitely a LOT older than the girl.

flux 8 years ago

Ha Ha......ok ok right, that changes everything. I change my mind, he's a sick bastard.

PapaB 8 years ago

Kudos to her for looking out for others to not let him be in a similar position of power over young women.Shouldn't Youth Ministers be promoting chastity and abstinence before marriage? I hope that some type of disciplinary measures were carried out by his church to protect their name.

supertrampofkansas 8 years ago

Whoa! TOB can count!What difference does it make on how old the perp was and the victim's motivations. A law was broken and the perpetrator is doing the time. Ultimately, the only person that can be blamed for this is the person who did the crime.

Cait McKnelly 8 years ago

According to the original article she was "under 16" and he was 30 at the time the "relationship" started. According to this article she was in Junior High (!) when this thing started. (Read the article.) This means he was at least twice her age and she was a child and he was very much an adult. He knew how old she was. He was her youth pastor. And I don't care if she was a little Lolita and/or what my husband calls a "prostitot". He was in a position of power and he took advantage of that position and her. Period. End of story. It doesn't make any difference how old she is now or how long ago it happened or how long the relationship lasted. I also don't care if this was the "only incidence" and he is not a "pedophile". He was an adult. She was a child. He knew better. What difference is there between this case and what the FLDS is doing to its children? Do you people think that's wrong? I am the parent of two teenage children. I don't want my seventeen year old daughter involved with a thirty year old man. And I certainly don't want my fifteen year old son involved with a thirty year old!Church is supposed to be a safe place to send your children. It's what made the crimes committed by Catholic priests as much as twenty years ago so heinous. And it's what makes what this man did so disgusting. I cannot believe his friends and family are so willing to forgive him. He may be a changed man now but if he was a real man with real remorse he would own up to his crime and do his time.

666ChristChild 8 years ago

Right... I'm a member of the perp's (Chris's) family. Slightly extended family. but none the less, I've seen him at gatherings growing up my whole life. Seems like a nice guy, and for all intensive purposes he is a nice guy. However, regardless of my bloodline affiliation to him, I think five years in man-made hell is enough, and enough. he deserves that. likely he doesn't deserve much more than that (in my opinion), as he has been ousted from his job and blacklisted in every community the U.S. has to offer. cutting off hands is not, um, American? but neither is sitting back and doing nothing! When I was younger, I pressed charges against someone who came near me in the 'wrong way' (remember sublime). He got fifteen years in the same institution Chris will be visiting. The thing about incidents like these is, even though the crime may not be 'severe' in all eyes, and even though the trial showed it was... whatever it was, there have to be actions on behalf of people who might have been, and people who could be 'touched.' I remember my (I say my) perp didn't do much for me to get real sore about (pun intended), however, unbeknownst to me, he would deserve all 15 years he had coming to him. I called the cops. It was my statement that brought people out of the woodwork who he had abused before. All I'm saying is, time will tell. Hopefully five years is enough to say--to make sure it only happened (s) once. My condolences go out to both the victims family, and my own family. To the victim's family and friends; she did the right thing for herself, and the community. But you all know that I'm sure. To my family: If I hear about this over christmas, I'm going to put you all in you places. kindly, but firmly. I have room for grief, and even mercy, but not carelessness.

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