WEST CHESTER, Pa. (WTXF/AP)
A Chester County pastor accused of sexually assaulting and impregnating a teenager has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to three to six years in prison after a judge rejected an earlier plea agreement as too lenient.
Jacob Malone, 35 of Exton, was sentenced Friday after entering guilty pleas to institutional sex assault, corruption of minors and child endangerment. He also must register as a sex offender for 15 years.
Malone and prosecutors had reached an earlier plea deal that called for a two-year minimum jail term, but Judge Jacqueline Cody rejected that deal a month ago.
Malone was working at Calvary Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Downingtown, when authorities say he began sexually assaulting the girl in the fall of 2014, when she was in her late teens. She gave birth a year ago to their daughter. She maintained he took advantage of her "mentally, physically, spiritually."
In court, Malone admitted he gave the girl alcohol but said the sexual encounters were consensual. He apologized, saying his "failures and weaknesses" had hurt her, her family, and his family.
"She admired me and trusted me, and I betrayed that," he said.
Cody called the case "one of the times when the court system fails" and said even with the stiffer sentence in the new plea agreement Malone would be "serving a sentence much lighter than the crime deserves."
FOX 29 News reported Malone left the country
after an arrest warrant was issued. He was eventually arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at Newark Liberty International Airport in January 2016, while returning to the U.S. He’d allegedly victimized the same victim over many years in multiple states.
The original charges against Malone included rape. His defense attorney Evan Kelly said in a statement that Malone "has always been adamant" he did not rape the teenager but has admitted to other crimes. "And for that he is embarrassed, ashamed and truly remorseful," Kelly said.
District Attorney Emily Provencher said the woman is pleased an additional year was added to Malone's minimum jail term.
Malone will get credit for the more than one year he has served since his arrest.