PUBLISHED WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14,
Child molester preacher sentenced
Pace pastor gets 20 years
Pace pastor Floyd Linder was sentenced to 20 years in prison
Tuesday and told he could never again speak to the girls, now women,
he molested as he raised them.
Linder, 55, did not comment in Circuit Judge Nickolas Geeker's
courtroom and was taken into custody immediately. Prosecutors expect
he will serve at least 10 years.
"The problem I had was trying to balance the enormity of the
crime this man had committed against so many children with the age
of the case and the necessity of bringing all these women out and
have them be required to testify," said Anne Patterson, assistant
One case dated back to 1976.
The trauma that victims would suffer having to relive their
encounters during the trial was a significant factor in the plea
agreement reached last week.
Linder pleaded guilty to charges of lewd and lascivious or
indecent assault against four victims in Escambia and Santa Rosa
counties, the result of months of negotiations. He originally was
charged with multiple counts of capital sexual battery, which could
have resulted in a life sentence.
"Had he gone to trial and been convicted on almost any of those
cases, he would have gotten life in prison without parole," said
Barry Beroset, Linder's attorney. "This is a sentence that would
give him some hope that he would get out."
The prosecution was prepared for trial - "We already had the
plane tickets ordered," Patterson said - but the victims, most of
whom no longer live in the area, did not relish the idea of
"It's embarassing, it's mortifying, it's traumatic - even for
grown women," Patterson said. "It was traumatizing for them to have
to talk to me about it."
Linder, who preached to few congregants other than his family at
Pace Apostolic Church, combined the role of preacher and father and
wielded that authority over his children, daughter Lauren Linder
His kids characterized him as a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of man,
Patterson said, a tyrant at home but an angel to others.
As a preacher involved in the community, Linder was able to gain
legal custody of many children. Lauren Linder said there were as
many as 18 kids in their Pace home at once.
"He did not victimize any of his own blood daughters," Patterson
said. "Only his stepchildren, adopted children and foster
Prosecutor Harmon Massey oversaw the four Santa Rosa County
"I can tell you that all the victims said this is not enough," he
said, "but it's enough to satisfy us that we don't have to come
forward and testify, and we can go on with our lives."
On release, Linder plans to move to North Carolina and live with
his sister. He will have to register with local authorities as a
convicted sex offender.