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Baptist Minister is Guilty of
Molestation, Sexual Assault
BYLINE: By Connie Cunningham And Mark Curriden Staff
Atlanta Journal and Constitution
|A Cobb County jury Friday
convicted a 46-year-old Baptist minister|
of molesting two teenage girls and
sexually assaulting an adult member of
Superior Court Judge Tom Cauthorn sentenced Thomas McGowan
three years in prison and 17 years' probation. The judge also
McGowan to stop preaching, to avoid being alone with
and to undergo psychiatric counseling.
called himself a man of God," said Cobb Assistant
Attorney Bruce Hornbuckle. "But a man of God wouldn't do
this. He was a
man of deception."
Two young women testified
Wednesday that while they were juveniles,
McGowan rubbed their
thighs above their dresses and kissed their necks.
accused the preacher of causing the girls "cruel and
A 26-year-old Smyrna woman told the
jury McGowan made sexual
advances toward her in June 1988 and
"grabbed me between the legs." The
preacher also told her he
wanted to make love to her, the woman
proclaimed his innocence after the verdict was
announced but said
he would resign as pastor of New Grace Baptist
Jimmy Berry, McGowan's attorney, said he will appeal the
jury's verdict. The minister is free on $50,000
McGowan claimed the charges were "trumped up" by members of
View Baptist in Marietta, where he pastored from 1981 to 1987.
testified certain members of the church were trying to
because of their political differences.
just a country preacher," McGowan told the jury. "But
living in th e last days. It's getting to where you can't
hug somebody or
shake their hand without being charged with child
Mr. Hornbuckle said the girls for years could not
tell their story
because they were afraid of "crossing the
"This man used the pulpit, his position in the church,
to abuse and
molest little girls and women," Mr. Hornbuckle
said. "Our main goal was
to stop that and we did."
sides were leaving the courtroom, some of McGowan's
harangued the prosecutor.
"You'll get your justice," one
"Just wait until judgment day," said another.
Baptist minister Thomas McGowan is hugged by a supporter
in Cobb Superior Court after his trial on molestation
charges is recessed
for the day. He was found guilty Friday and
was sentenced to three years
in prison and 17 years' probation. /
CALVIN CRUCE / Staff