Two men from The Dalles — one over the age of 30 and the other more than 40 — were sentenced this week in separate cases for using positions of authority to gain the trust of teenage girls they then molested.
“Sex offenders groom not only children but the adults in the child’s family, and their own, in order to gain the trust that will enable them to abuse the child — it’s a deliberate act,” said Wasco County Chief Deputy District Attorney Leslie Wolf, who prosecuted both cases. “It’s a violation of public trust and the effect on the children is that they exit whatever childhood they have left and have issues that extend into their adult lives.”
Daniel Chamberlin, 37, the former youth pastor at First Christian Church of The Dalles, was ordered Thursday to spend 30 days in the regional jail, followed by 36 months of probation. He pleaded guilty at the March 21 hearing to second-degree sexual abuse and third-degree sodomy, both Class C felonies, and waived his right to a trial or an appeal of the charges against him.
He was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs after delivering an apology to Judge Janet Stauffer, the victim and her family for the incidents that occurred between July 1, 2006, and Feb. 27, 2007. Chamberlin initially denied any wrongdoing after being confronted about inappropriate behavior by the 15-year-old girl’s family and said he was only counseling her as a youth pastor.
“I apologize for the fact there was a trust in me that was violated,” he said after listening to blistering comments made by the victim, now age 22, who only recently decided to pursue justice for the abuse.
“The reason I am here today is to expose this man who was supposed to be a mentor and abused his power,” she said to Stauffer. “This monster is a shell in which evil dwells. I have survived the hell he put me in for seven years; I let the darkness come into my life because he told me it was okay.”
On Tuesday, David Henry Holt, 41, was sentenced after being found guilty by a jury of two counts of third-degree sex abuse. He was ordered by Stauffer to spend six months in jail, followed by 48 months of probation. He was prosecuted by Wolf for molesting a 15-year-old girl who was the best friend of his step-daughter while she was spending the night at the family home in March of 2012.
After the girl reported what had happened to her parents, they contacted police and an investigation was initiated. Holt was arrested and charged by Wolf after another girl corroborated the victim’s account of the abuse.
Both Chamberlin and Holt will have to undergo any psychological treatment deemed necessary by their respective probation officers and register as sex offenders upon being released from jail. Neither can be in places where children congregate, although Stauffer granted Chamberlin the right to be around his own three children without restriction.
She said Holt could have phone contact while under court supervision with his stepchildren and daughter only if that was deemed appropriate by his therapist and probation officer. She based that ruling on the fact that he had asked the children to take the stand in his defense.
“I sat through the trial, I listened to the testimony of all the witnesses and all the children who came in and, in my opinion, some of the children — your stepchildren — testified untruthfully. I think that was a horrible position to put them in,” said Stauffer.
Holt did not choose to speak at his March 15 sentencing hearing, which followed a two-day trial.
NOTE: Commenting has been disabled on this story to protect the victim from those who did not believe her testimony.