Former Church Leaders Plead in Sex Crimes

By Amanda Codispoti
The Roanoke Times
April 29, 2009

Two men who held leadership positions in the same Vinton church entered pleas Tuesday in unrelated sex crime cases involving children.

Dean Harold Stone, a former deacon at Heritage Baptist Church, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Circuit Court to 12 sex crimes. He faces up to three life sentences in jail.

In a separate case, Daniel Silverman, the church's former assistant pastor, pleaded no contest in Roanoke County Circuit Court to one count of aggravated sexual battery of a child. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Police have said the acts did not occur on church property and are not connected to the church.

Stone, 45, of Boones Mill admitted to molesting three girls between 2006 and 2008. Two of the girls were 13 or younger, and the third was between the ages of 14 and 16.

Stone initially had been indicted on 24 felony charges, but some of them were dropped as part of a plea agreement, Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Cliff Hapgood said.

On Tuesday, Stone pleaded guilty to three counts of animate object penetration and nine counts of aggravated sexual battery.

Stone turned himself in to police in November after he stood before the congregation at Heritage Baptist and said that he was a molester, Hapgood said.

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced June 29. Neither he nor his attorney could be reached Tuesday afternoon.

Silverman, 43, pleaded no contest to touching a 12-year-old girl sometime between July and August.

Silverman maintained his innocence after court Tuesday, saying that he decided to plead no contest because he wanted to spare the girl from testifying in court.

Silverman's sentencing is scheduled for July 7.

The church's pastor, the Rev. Bob Barton, said in November that the incidents had devastated the congregation and may have caused some members to leave. The church had about 100 members at that time.

On Tuesday, Barton said church members were doing better.

"The spirit of the church is excellent," he said. "Everyone is strong."


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