|Sex Offender and Sex Crime News|
|Minister not registered as sex
offender gets 2 years |
BARTOW -- Accompanied by family and
parishioners, a Baptist preacher was sentenced Thursday to a
two-year prison term for failing to register as a sex
Circuit Judge Randall McDonald upheld a plea
agreement reached in March between the Rev. Kenneth Baxley,
pastor of Central Baptist Community Ministries in Lakeland,
and the State Attorney's Office.
Because Baxley, 36,
faces new charges, he temporarily will serve time at the Polk
County Jail Annex in Bartow rather than state prison, which
was part of his plea agreement.
While Baxley was
awaiting sentencing for the failure-to-register charge
Thursday, prosecutors filed additional charges of sexual
activity with a child in familial custody, a first-degree
felony. Each of the five counts carries a maximum sentence of
30 years in prison.
Those charges stem from accusations
made by a 17-year-old girl who lived for several months with
Baxley and his wife, Amanda. The teen-ager told sheriff's
investigators that she had showers and three-way sexual
relations with the couple.
Baxley admitted to
investigators that he massaged the girl and that he had washed
her and his wife in a shower, according to court
A pretrial conference on those charges is
scheduled for July 13.
The failure-to-register charge
originated with a crime committed by Baxley in 1983 but
confessed to seven years later. He served 15 months in prison
for attempted sexual battery on a child younger than
Baxley has served several churches in various
capacities in the Lakeland area since his release.
was arrested in May 2000 for failing to register his address
as a sex offender.
Minutes before Thursday's sentencing
hearing, Baxley and nearly a dozen of his supporters,
including his wife, held hands and prayed outside a
After he was sentenced, Baxley
took off his necktie, wristwatch and jewelry, handed them to
his attorney, John Kirkland, and from a distance whispered to
his supporters: "I love you. Visit me."
said she held out hope that her husband would somehow receive
a reduced sentence. "We prayed for a miracle, and we were
definitely open to whatever God saw fit," she
Amanda Baxley said she has faith that the new
charges facing her husband will be dismissed for lack of
evidence. Meanwhile, she said, she'll visit her husband often
and pray. "I have faith that the Lord will see fit to
have us freed from those charges."
McDonald denied several motions Thursday by Baxley's attorney,
including one to postpone sentencing so he could prepare a
defense against the five counts of sexual activity.
Kirkland's convenience, McDonald did agree to let Baxley stay
in the jail annex rather than the county jail in
Assistant State Attorney Tracie Spoto
objected to Kirkland's motions, saying that Baxley showed a
blatant disregard of the law by not registering his address
and that he is a danger to children.
Baxley addressed McDonald, saying that he has repented his old
ways, which may be connected to abuse he suffered as a
"I have lived a lifestyle in the last 18 years
that does not reflect any of the (new) allegations," he said.
"If you choose today to send me to prison for two years, I
will respect that."
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