Former pastor sentenced to 30 years in Sullivan County child rape cases

BLOUNTVILLE (WJHL) – A former Tri-Cities pastor was sentenced to 30 years in prison in a plea deal stemming from child rape cases.

David St. John, of Bristol, pleaded guilty in Sullivan County Criminal Court on Thursday to three counts of child rape and six counts of aggravated sexual battery.

“Anytime you got a child victim and the rape of a child, (it’s a) difficult situation especially when you’ve got someone who is in a position like Mr. St. John was in,” Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney William Harper said.

A judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison with no possibility of parole.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation looked into complaints that St. John, the former pastor of Bible Truth Baptist Church, sexually assaulted two people under the age of 13. St. John also previously worked for the city of Bristol, TN.

“To have something like this happen kind of a erodes your confidence in public figures and that’s why the state takes a hard stance on these type of cases and wants to make sure that the public’s protected from individuals like Mr. St. John”

Harper said family members of the victims are glad the case ended in a plea and that the young victims did not have to testify in a trial.

“That was part of the process as far as the state was concerned in offering a plea in this particular case to keep the two victims, both children, from having to testify and this accomplished that goal and also protected society by getting him a lengthy prison sentence as well,” Harper said.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office confirmed to News Channel 11 back in April that the church was no longer in operation.

St. John is not set to get out of jail until he is 90 years old.

After serving his sentence St. John will have to register as a violent sex offender and  be placed on community supervision for the rest of his life.

Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.




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