Pastor Pleads Guilty to Touching Minor
By Madelaine Vitale
The Press of Atlantic City [New Jersey]
February 1, 2006
- A pastor of a Salem County Baptist church who was charged nearly two years ago with aggravated sexual assault pleaded guilty Monday to offensive touching and simple assault.
Llewellyn E. Hill III, of the Richland section of Buena Vista Township, is expected to be sentenced to probation. He also will not have to register as a Megan's Law offender if the judge does not reject the plea at sentencing in the spring.
Hill was arrested in February 2004 on charges of aggravated sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, child abuse and aggravated criminal sexual contact involving three victims. Authorities said all the victims were minors at the time and members of the congregation when the alleged incidents took place from 1999 to 2003. If convicted at trial, Hill could have faced 55 years in prison.
Church officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. Information was not available about whether Hill is still the pastor at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church, in Pittsgrove Township.
Atlantic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor James McClain handled the state's case. Public Defender Eric Shenkus represented Hill.
"At the time the plea was entered," McClain said, "the case was listed for trial, and I informed the court that I would be seeking a postponement based upon the fact that two of the three victims had not responded to subpoenas or repeated attempts by telephone and also with the assistance of local police departments to locate them."
McClain also said that the judge indicated that the case would have proceeded to trial with whatever witnesses were available. "It was necessary to make a decision as to the likelihood that we could prevail in light of the remaining victim that was available," he said.
In 2004, shortly after Hill's arrest, a sergeant at the New Jersey State Police, Buena Vista Township barracks, told a reporter that police began their investigation on Feb. 11, 2004, as the result of a New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services intervention. A DYFS officer escorted the victim to the local barracks, and the victim indicated there that Hill had repeatedly assaulted her.
Hill was taken to the Atlantic County jail on $100,000 bail. He posted bail several days later.
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