Ex-Pastor Sent to Prison for Rape

By Gabe Wells

November 7, 2008

Admitted rapist and former Martins Ferry pastor Peter Pilger will spend the next decade behind bars.

Pilger, 36, of Warren, Ohio, was sentenced Wednesday in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas by Judge John G. Haas on multiple counts of rape, attempted rape, kidnapping and gross sexual imposition. The former pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Martins Ferry previously admitted to the rape of a young female family member.

The judge ruled Pilger's sentences on the various counts will run concurrently. As a result, Pilger will serve 10 years in prison on the sentence handed down for the most serious charge - one count of rape. The judge also classified Pilger as a Tier III sex offender, requiring lifetime registration with the sheriff of the county in which he resides.

Pilger pleaded guilty in October to one count of rape, one count of kidnapping, three counts of attempted rape and one count of gross sexual imposition. He was sentenced to a total of three years on the imposition and attempted rape charges. A sentence of six years was ordered on the kidnapping count.

Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Lori Curd had little comment Thursday regarding Pilger's sentence.

"All I can say is the judge based the sentence on the pre-sentence investigation as well as comments at the hearing from the defendant's family and the victim's family," she said.

Pilger served from 1999-2003 at the St. John's Lutheran Church in Martins Ferry. He was installed April 6 as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Massillon, Ohio, after serving from 2003-08 at a New Albany, Ohio, church.

The allegations against Pilger were made by the now 12-year-old victim at a sleepover with friends, according to reports.

Her friends encouraged the girl to tell her mother of the abuse. Pilger was arrested July 3 on allegations he abused the girl over the course of as many as six years.


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