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Archive for Monday, November 14, 2011

Former youth ministry coordinator enters no-contest plea to sex crime

November 14, 2011, 3:55 p.m. Updated November 14, 2011, 4:59 p.m.

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A former Lawrence youth ministry coordinator pleaded no contest Monday to a sex crime and is expected to serve 30 days in jail.

Christopher L. Cormack, 41, who now lives in Abilene, entered the plea to one count of indecent liberties with a child. Douglas County prosecutors initially had charged him with one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, alleging he had a sexual relationship beginning in 1999 with a girl when she was 15. He was 28.

Cormack is a former youth ministry coordinator at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.

A jury in 2008 convicted Cormack for having a sexual relationship with the underage girl, but a Kansas Court of Appeals panel in March awarded him a new trial because jury instructions were not specific enough. The girl testified at the first trial the two had a sexual relationship that began at a youth retreat in July 1999 and continued until after her 16th birthday. Cormack has testified the sexual relationship did not begin until after she turned 16, the age of consent in Kansas.

As part of the plea negotiated between defense attorney Hatem Chahine and Amy McGowan, a chief assistant Douglas County district attorney, if Cormack has no other past criminal history he could qualify for probation.

McGowan said prosecutors would not oppose probation if he qualifies, and both sides are expected to ask for a 32-month prison sentence in case he would violate his probation term.

Chahine said the parties would agree to have Cormack serve 30 days in jail and have no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses in the case. McGowan said Cormack would be required to register as a sexual offender for 25 years.

District Attorney Charles Branson said the victim agreed with the plea.

“We are relieved the victim will not have to face another trial in this matter,” Branson said. “Given the time that had passed, it was important for her to know that Mr. Cormack was held accountable for his crime.”

Cormack remains free on bond. Chief District Chief Robert Fairchild is scheduled to sentence him at 2 p.m. Jan. 10.

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