Jury Awards $4.35 Million for Victims of Ex-pastor's Sexual Abuse of 2 Girls

By Jessie Balmert
Newark Advocate
June 29, 2012|head

Their associate pastor sexually abused them. Friends ridiculed them. Churchgoers held a candlelight vigil for the man who assaulted them.

But after nearly a decade, a group of jurors believed them — to the tune of $4.35 million.

Two young women were vindicated after a jury found that former Licking Baptist Church associate pastor Lonny “Joe” Aleshire, 41, of Hebron, sexually assaulted them when they were 13 and 16 years old, said their attorney, Beverly Farlow.

The abuse, which occurred between 2003 and 2004, was reported in early 2005. Later that year, Aleshire pleaded guilty to six counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of sexual imposition and one count of rape.

The victims, now young women, testified in the civil trial about the intimate details of their sexual abuse for the first time — details they had not shared with each other or their parents. Farlow followed the questions a Licking County Sheriff’s Office detective asked them more than seven years ago.

“It was an incredibly intimidating situation, but they did it,” Farlow said.

Aleshire served seven years in prison for the criminal conviction. During his incarceration, Aleshire appealed several times and filed three sworn statements maintaining his innocence. He was convicted of perjury Wednesday for lying under oath.

Aleshire testified he did not sexually abuse the girls, but jurors did not believe him. His attorney, Al Mokhtari, did not return a call for comment.

Jurors awarded $2 million in damages, including money intended to punish the offender, to the then-13-year-old girl who testified Aleshire sexually assaulted her more than 40 times.

They awarded $1.25 million to the then-16-year-old girl who was sexually abused in June 2004. Additional sums were given to their parents for infliction of emotional harm.

Another $623 was awarded for out-of-pocket losses, such as counseling and gas money. The total was $4,350,623, Farlow said.

The lawsuit was more about vindication than money, which the family might never receive in full, Farlow said.

“It’s a life-changing verdict for them,” Farlow said








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.