Bellmead pastor sentenced to 50 years for sexually assaulting young church member

By Tommy Witherspoon

Tribune-Herald staff writer
Waco Tribune-Herald

November 3 , 2009

William Frank Brown (Jerry Larson photo)

The former pastor of Bellmead Baptist Church was sentenced to 50 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a young church member who considered him her “spiritual mentor.”

William Frank Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault in a plea bargain in which prosecutors also agreed to dismiss four counts of indecency with a child.

Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court sentenced Brown to four concurrent 50-year sentences, although he said he was “somewhat reluctant” to accept the plea agreement.

Brown, who sobbed during a victim-impact statement by the victim and her sister, must serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole.

“I forgive you,” the 13-year-old girl told Brown. “I’m sorry your sin put you here before you realized how much pain you caused in so many people’s lives.”

The indictment alleges that Brown abused the young girl from 2005 to May 2007. The allegations surfaced when the girl told a school counselor about the abuse, according to court documents. She told Brown that the abuse and its aftermath caused her “depression to hit an all-time low.”

Prosecutor Beth Toben said it would have been difficult for the girl to testify at trial because she and Brown had a close relationship and she considered him her “spiritual mentor.” When Brown was willing to plead guilty, it was the first step in the victim putting the abuse behind her and getting on with her life, Toben said.

“This man was a minister, yet there was a dark side to him,” she said. “People think these types of crimes only happen in certain types of neighborhoods. This shows that it can happen anywhere.”

Brown’s attorney, Scott Peterson, said about a dozen of Brown’s former parishioners wrote letters of support to prosecutors before the plea agreement was ironed out.

“It obviously is a sad situation,” Peterson said. “But does it not epitomize in some ways the duality of human nature? That we have the capacity to be both good and bad? Here you have a man who did a lot of good for a lot of people and there was an outpouring of support from many of them. But there was a darker side. You hate to see a man judged by a singular wrongful act or a single wrong choice.”

The initial allegations against Brown charged that he had abused two girls. However, he was indicted in the abuse of only one of the girls because investigators determined that the other girl reportedly was abused in another state, outside the jurisdiction of McLennan County prosecutors.

Toben said authorities in Illinois have been made aware of the allegations.

SNAP note: Bellmead First Baptist Church is shown as a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. As reported by the Associated Baptist Press, William Frank Brown previously pastored the Panther Creek New Beginnings Baptist Church in Chandlerville, Illinois, which is also a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

See also:

Former pastor in Texas, Illinois gets 50 years for sexual assault, Associated Baptist Press, 11/3/09

50 years for pastor accused of molesting young girls, KXXV-TV, 11/2/09

Bellmead Baptist minister arrested in sexual assault case involving two children, Waco Tribune-Herald, 4/2/2009

Former Waco-area pastor indicted on child sex charges, KWTX-TV, 6/17/09

Former pastor arrested for sexual abuse of a child, KXXV-TV, 3/21/09