Chicago Tribune


Gary Mays, Tribune Staff Writer.


Oct 11, 1996

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A former youth pastor, who took advantage of his position at the Crossroads Church in Libertyville to seduce four teenage girls, was sentenced to nine years in prison Thursday by a Lake County judge.

The sentence imposed by Judge Raymond J. McKoski was the maximum allowable under an agreement reached after Jeffrey Hannah pleaded guilty in September to four counts of criminal sexual assault.

Hannah, 31, had sexual relations with the girls, ages 15 to 17, in the church, his car and in his house between December 1994 and April 1996.

Hannah's life began to unravel last spring when his wife, Carrie Hannah, found him in bed with one of the girls. Carrie Hannah is seeking a divorce and lives out of state with the couple's daughter.

"The devil often uses scripture for his own purposes. That's what happened here," said Assistant State's Atty. Randie Bruno.

Defense attorney Raymond Boldt disputed Bruno's contention that Hannah was a "sexual predator," describing him as a "psychologically immature" man who was sorry for making some grave mistakes.

The emotional hearing included testimony from two of Hannah's victims, who described how the pastor methodically seduced them, convincing them that his love was genuine.

"I gave him my whole heart, and he was taking love from every girl he knew," said one of the girls, pausing frequently to glare at Hannah. "My world is in a million pieces. I used to know what it was like to be loved by a man, and now I know it was all a lie."

Another of the girls described how Hannah took "my heart, my time, my emotions and my body."

Much of the day, was spent retracing the events leading to Hannah's arrest on July 2.

Crossroads Pastor Stephen Farish recounted how he confronted the youth pastor about the incidents after being asked by Hannah's wife to "help save our marriage."

The church, at 1190 W. Winchester Rd., fired Hannah in March and immediately subjected him to a special committee for church discipline, Farish said.

But Farish said Hannah was rarely truthful during meetings with him and other church leaders about the scope of his involvement with the girls. Farish said a decision was made in August to "disfellowship" him from the church.

In trying to demonstrate his client was remorseful for his crimes, defense attorney Boldt called one of Hannah's friends from Trinity Divinity School in Deerfield.

Carl Moeller, a vice president at Westminster College in Utah, testified Hannah described feeling "most sorry for the lives I've destroyed."

Bruno disputed that statement by introducing a copy of an e-mail message Hannah had sent to Moeller, in which he complained about the pace of Farish's "discipline" and described how he, at one point, "almost went to Steve's house to drag him out and beat him senseless."

See also 2007 article: Sex offender back in Southern Baptist pulpit