Brooks youth pastor sentenced to 33 years in rape of girl

By Alisha Roemeling
Statesman Journal
May 5, 2015

Peter Bass

Peter Bass, a youth pastor with the Assembly of God Church in Brooks, was arrested on charges of sexual assault on Jan. 21.

Peter Bass at his arraignment at the Marion County Circuit Court Annex on Jan. 22 in Salem.

A former Brooks youth pastor, Peter James Bass, 36, was sentenced Monday to 33 years and four months in prison after he repeatedly raped a girl under the age of 16.

Bass appeared before Marion County Circuit Judge Tracy Prall, where he pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree rape and waived his right to a jury trial. Following the plea, Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Underwood asked that Prall sentence Bass to a total of 35 years and 10 months in prison.

Bass's attorney, Robert Botta argued that Bass receive less time in prison, 16 years and 8 months, because he opted not to have a trial, saving the victim from additional pain.

"He didn't want to put (the victim) through any additional emotional, physical or mental trauma," Botta said. "He's hoping to re-establish a relationship with his family at some point down the road. He's hoping that time will heal some of the wounds."

Bass was arrested Jan. 21 by the Marion County Sheriff's Office and held on 15 counts of first-degree sodomy and 15 counts of second-degree sex abuse.

At his arraignment on Jan. 22, Circuit Judge Channing Bennett formally charged Bass with 10 counts of first-degree rape and set bail at $1 million. Counts six through 10 were dismissed at sentencing as part of the plea deal.

Court documents indicate the crimes took place on several occasions in Marion County between Aug. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014.

Sgt. Chris Baldridge, a Marion County Sheriff's Office spokesman, declined to say how Bass might have known the victim, but said it was not through his work as a youth pastor.

Friends and family members of Bass filled the courtroom, crying as he pleaded guilty to the charges. The victim, whom the Statesman Journal is not naming, now resides in a different state and listened to the proceedings by telephone. Before Prall read the sentence, Bass addressed the courtroom.

"I wanted to say I'm sorry for the pain I caused," Bass said as he cried. "I'm sorry to my wife — whether she still is or not — I messed up and I know I can't change the past, but I'm trying my hardest to change the future, or what's left of it. I'm extremely sorry."

He went on to say that he hoped to have contact with his family in the future.

"I've let them all down," Bass said. "I would love to be able to have a relationship with my family at some point. I want to be a better person."

Kurston Ross is a member of the Brooks Assembly of God Church, where Bass was employed as a youth pastor, and described him as a great leader.

"He was a great pastor," Ross said. "I trust him. I always have. To this day I still trust him and respect him greatly. Our youth were devastated, but they tell me that they still love him and respect him."

Bass's brother, Andrew Bass, also stood before Prall to express his love and support for his brother.

"He's dedicated to the care of his family and his profession," Andrew Bass said, as he began to cry. "This is a man who has been a hero to his children — they've always viewed him as the ultimate person."

Andrew Bass spoke of his brother's mission in life.

"He's trying to make the best decision with what he has," Andrew Bass said. "He has not given up hope on what his mission is in life. He's trying to do what God wants him to. He loves his family immensely and wants to do everything he can to make it right."

Following the three statements, Prall explained to Peter Bass why he'd be receiving such a lengthy sentence.

"You've had a profound impact on the community and have left many in disbelief," Prall said. "It truly is a sickness that you have. It doesn't mean that you're a bad person, but that you have a sickness."

She went on to say that although the crime seemed to be isolated to just one victim, that she believed Bass was still a danger to the community.

"You're a risk to all of those children in church and at home," Prall said. "You have broken your family."

Before sentencing Bass to nearly 34 years in prison, Prall spoke of Bass's role in the community moving forward.

"I'm hopeful because of the great support you have that you'll be able to help others in this very situation in the future," Prall said. "You'll now have the chance to make a difference where you are placed — I imagine that is your calling."

Upon his release, Bass will have to complete 46 years and eight months of post-prison supervision and will have to register as a sex offender.

A first-degree rape charge carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of eight years and four months.



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