Sun May 12 18:34:54 EDT 2002

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St. Petersburg minister sentenced to 20 years in sex case


Associated Press

CLEARWATER -- A former pastor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading no contest to charges he molested two young girls.

The Rev. Charles Robinson, 63, former pastor of Mount Zion AME Church in St. Petersburg, pleaded no contest Friday to five felony charges of sexual contact with parishioners, ages 13 and 15, in 1998 and 1999.

Investigators said while sexual relations were consensual with the older girl, the younger teen told police he forced her.

Under Florida law, it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor even if the contact is consensual.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Robinson pleaded to four counts of handling and fondling a child under 16 and one of performing a lewd and lascivious act.

Prosecutor John Drizis said Robinson faced a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison if convicted at trial. He said the minister was offered the plea agreement because the victims' families wanted to avoid the trauma of trial.



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