Former Baptist Music Minister Sentenced for Child Rape
March 5, 2007. chattanoogan.com
The former pastor of Middle Valley Methodist Church was taken into custody on Monday to begin serving an 11 month and 29 day sentence at the county workhouse for statutory rape.
After a lengthy and emotional sentencing hearing, Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern gave Gregory Stanley Dempsey three years for statutory rape and a consecutive year for sexual battery by an authority figure.
He will be on intensive probation after he is released and must continue in a treatment program. He also cannot be around young children except for his 12-year-old daughter, the judge said.
Dempsey told the jury he "accepts full responsibility" for a two-year homosexual relationship with a young church member, but he asked for "mercy" and for "probation."
He said he wanted to apologize to the victim, to the victim's family, as well as his own wife and daughter and former church members.
He said the incident has cost him to lose his home and life savings and he is having difficulty finding anyone who will hire him.
Police said the incidents started when Dempsey was minister of music at the Oak Street Baptist Church. He had taken that position in early 2002.
The youth was 16 at the time the incidents started when both attended the Oak Street Baptist Church in July 2003. He is now 19.
The youth testified at the sentencing hearing, saying he has gone away to college in another state and is trying to put the incidents behind him. He told the defendant, "I won't let you stop my life anymore. I'm ready to do something good with my life."
The victim's father said his son had been a musical prodigy, but the incidents had taken away much of his love for music.
He said while the abuse was going on, the minister on Sundays "would come up and hug my neck and thank me for letting (the son) be a part of his life."
Dempsey said he is attending weekly therapy sessions with other sex offenders.
He said he got a job selling insurance out of town, but could not make a living at it. He said he became a team leader at Convergys, but was fired when news of his arrest came out.
He said he and his wife and daughter attended one church for three months, then were told they needed to leave the church. But he said the First Baptist Church of Soddy-Daisy has welcomed them with open arms.
He said he and his wife and daughter have had to move in with his mother-in-law, Jane Cook.
Dempsey's wife, Julia, testified in his behalf, calling him a good father and husband.
She acknowledged she was shocked when she found out about the incidents, but she said she is standing with her husband of 13 years.
Attorney Kent Moore also testified for Dempsey, saying he and his wife were instumentalists when Dempsey was leading the choir at Oak Street Baptist. He said he was an outstanding choir leader.
He said he has remained friends with Dempsey despite the charges.
Rev. Joe Miller of Oak Street Baptist said the wife of a staff member at the church thought she saw something between Dempsey and the youth.
He said Dempsey was confronted about it and "emphatically denied" that anything was going on.
SNAP note: Oak Street Baptist Church in Parsons is shown as an SBC-affiliated church.