Former First United Methodist Church youth pastor Timothy Urban has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old church member.
52-year-old Urban appeared in the 397th District Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual performance of a child. He originally faced six felony charges - including sexual assault of a child and inducing sexual performance by a child. Prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining charges in exchange for a guilty plea.
Urban faces 12 years in prison. Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith said that Urban is required to serve at least six of those years before he will be eligible for parole. Additionally, he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Urban abused the victim several times between 2015 and 2016 and investigators uncovered hundreds of sexually explicit text messages, photos, and videos. The victim says that these incidents of abuse usually happened in Urban's vehicle or at the church.
Attorney contributor Marc Lenahan represents survivors of sexual violence in civil lawsuits and helps them recover the financial compensation they deserve for the trauma they've suffered. Here are some of his thoughts on the legal options available to church sex abuse survivors:
Churches are often targeted by sexual predators who think their positions in church leadership will provide them with trust and authority. These predators then exploit that trust and authority by committing heinous crimes of sexual violence. Religious organizations must be aware of these risks and have a plan in place to ensure that children and other church members are safe from the threat of sexual violence. When abuse is suspected, it must be reported to the authorities immediately.
When a church leader is arrested for sexually abusing church members, it's important to look at the church itself and determine if organizational negligence allowed the abuse to occur. Many cases of abuse involve negligence, such as failing to contact law enforcement after a church leader or volunteer is accused of sexual abuse. In these types of cases, the victims and their parents may have grounds for a lawsuit against the church.
Are you or a loved on a survivor of sexual abuse by a leader or volunteer in a religious organization? We understand your pain and we want to help you find justice for what you've been through. You can learn more about your family's legal options by speaking to an experienced sexual abuse survivors lawyer.