Former Church Youth Mentor with Criminal History Gets Prison Sentence for Sexual Battery of Juveniles

By Johnny Gunter
The News-Star
May 28, 2009

The youth mentor of a Sterlington church was sentenced today to a total of 24 years in prison on three counts of sexual battery of a juvenile.

Fourth District Judge Carl Sharp also revoked Jeremy Little's probation on a previous drug conviction and sentenced him to an additional three years in jail.

The sentences are to run consecutively.

When Sharp announced the sentence, the 400-pound Little, 26, began weeping and shaking his head "no." He appeared to hyperventilate for a few minutes.

The charges of sexual battery carries a penalty of zero to 10 years.

Sharp rendered his sentence after hearing emotional pleas from the fathers of two of the victims who asked the judge to give Little the maximum of 30 years.

"He violated not only my son, but the church, church members and God," said one of the fathers. "He held a position of trust and he violated it."

One father said before the incident, his son was an honor student. "He's been thrown out of school and has been placed in a private school," the father said.

The fathers said their sons were given liquor and then drugged before they were molested by Little, who had pleaded guilty to the three counts earlier this year after his arrest in January.

At the time of his arrest, Sterlington Police Chief Barry Bonner said the stepmother of a 17-year-old boy told police her stepson may have been molested during a sleep over at a churchgoer's house. Little was serving as a youth mentor at the Assembly of God Church of Sterlington and was residing with an associate pastor.

Bonner said a talk with the 17-year-old warranted further investigation, and police identified two other possible victims, both 16 years old.

Police called Little in for an interview and claimed the youth mentor gave a recorded confession to fondling the two, 16-year-old males while one was intoxicated and the other while he was asleep. Little allegedly provided an alcoholic beverage, a mix of vodka and Kool-Aid, to the 17-year-old and fondled him when he was asleep as well.

Bonner said Little had told the church of a previous drug conviction and his two-year probation term. Little had no record of child abuse, and the church decided to hire him despite his criminal history.

"Unfortunately he had this hidden inside him." Bonner said.

Sharp ordered sealed the pre-sentence investigation and a psychological report of the defendant.

The judge said he felt sorry for Little after reading the reports about how he was mistreated as a child socially, but that he also felt sorry for the victims and their families.

District Attorney Jerry Jones and Assistant District Attorney Cindy Lavespere sought the maximum sentence, but defense attorney Elizabeth Brown argued for a lighter sentence saying she thought there was an agreement with Jones' office that the maximum sentence would not be sought.

Jones said no such agreement was put forth.



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