A former pastor stopped his trial after lunch Monday, instead opting to admit his guilt in the sexual abuse of two girls.
Donald Bruce Aubrey, 56, who once lived next door to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church at 4018 U.S. 80 West, faced two counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12, said Assistant District Attorney Max Smith. The mother of the 8- and 10-year-old girls had already testified when Aubrey entered his plea to the two counts and was sentenced by Russell County Circuit Court Judge George Greene to three years in prison, followed by seven years' probation.
"Sex offenders are just everywhere in society," Smith said.
The accusations against Aubrey stemmed from a June 5 church visit. The girls' mother and grandmother had taken the girls to the church's community center while they worked during the day. About an hour into their visit, Aubrey offered to let the girls play inside the church.
Two hours later, the younger girl returned and told her mother that Aubrey had touched her. The mother and grandmother then left with the girls as the 10-year-old corroborated her sister's story and said she was also touched, Smith said.
A police report was made, and days later the grandmother confronted Aubrey, who Smith said admitted to the sexual abuse. The pastor asked to speak with the girls' parents, who agreed to talk with him the following week. Before the meeting, though, the father bought a digital recorder. He turned it on during his meeting with Aubrey, who didn't know he was being recorded, Smith said.
"They have about a 20-minute conversation," the prosecutor said. "He says, 'I did it, I'll get help for it.' "
Aubrey also asked the parents to drop the charges — all of which made it on the recording and was given to police, Smith said.
The pastor was arrested in late June and quickly made bond. After pleading guilty, Aubrey was taken into custody.
Attorney Jeremy Armstrong, who represents Godwin, couldn't be reached for comment.