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Gavel to Gavel

North County Times
Ex-music pastor withdraws molestation guilty plea
SAN DIEGO ---- A former music pastor at a Scripps Ranch-area church who admitted to molesting a 14-year-old boy last year was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea Thursday, after a judge told him he would face prison time instead of probation.

When Richard Abram Elliott, 31, pleaded guilty in December to child molestation charges, Superior Court Judge Roger Krauel told him a six-year prison sentence would remain suspended as long as he remained in a counseling program.

Krauel said Thursday that a "lot of information has developed" since the initial plea was taken.

Elliott resigned as an associate music pastor at Community Bible Church after allegations arose that he molested the boy three times between May 1 and July 14 last year. Elliott had just completed a one-year, church-imposed probation following complaints by female parishioners about inappropriate sexual remarks he made.

A pre-sentencing report, said Elliott, is wanted in Colorado in connection with allegations that he violated probation stemming from a botched federal murder-for-hire case in which he pleaded guilty and did time. No one was killed and Elliott maintains he was not involved, defense attorney James Warner said.

Elliott also was convicted of state marijuana possession charges in Colorado, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said.

Krauel ordered that Elliott be jailed with bail set at $100,000. A bail review hearing is set for Wednesday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 26.

---- City News Service

Gavel to Gavel is published regularly by the North County Times to bring you the latest in criminal justice news. Contact legal affairs reporters Kimberly Epler and Scott Marshall at (760) 631-6625 or (760) 631-6623 or e-mail kepler@nctimes.com or smarshall@nctimes.com.

3/16/01

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