CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - A former youth pastor in Charlotte and Concord pleaded guilty Thursday to taking indecent liberties with young boys who were in his care.
Judge Erwin Spainhour sentenced Bobby Price to serve an active prison sentence of at least 16 months.
Under the terms of the plea agreement the judge gave Price as much time as he could, saying this was a heinous crime.
There were lots of tears in the courtroom. The mother of one of the victims said she felt used and that while trying to protect her child, every Sunday, Sunday night, and Wednesday, she took her little boy in a den of wolves and let him be attacked.
Dozens of family and friends stood in court to support Bobby Price, but when they left, they had not a word to say.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley Shanley also pointed out in court that Price's supporters never offered any help for the victims of the case.
During the testimony of prosecutors supporters of Price were frequently heard whispering that the victims were all lying.
The plea dealt with two victims, identified as Victim A and Victim C. Both say Price molested them in his car, at the Kings Way Baptist Church in several buildings, in his home, and on outings, including an overseas trip.
The testimony in court was graphic. One victim wrote out a full statement describing how Price began to befriend him, then to offer to massage him. He said that the physical activity continued to escalate with Price frequently sexually assaulting the victim.
Victim A had earlier given evidence that after the first incident, Price pulled him out of his Sunday School class to apologize. He said Price told him that it would not happen again, but that a short time later Price molested him in a weight room at the church.
Victim C wrote that he had looked up to Price and was afraid to report the abuse and did not know how to stop it. He also said that Price pulled him out of a Sunday School class to apologize but then abused him again.
That victim said Price abused him in Price's home in Harrisburg, at a location on Rocky River Road, at church, at a "youth shack" owned by the church, at a church in Yadkinville, and at a hotel in the Dominican Republic.
Prosecutors also played a tape recorded phone conversation between one victim and Price. In the call, the victim asks Price if he ever molested any other boys the way he molested him. The response from Price on the call was to say "I got nothing to hide...when I come to grips with just the way I, you know, it was just, just a horrible decision, I don't know what to do to make it up."
In the same recorded call the victim asks Price if he knew that the victim had been awake while Price was molesting him. Price responds by saying "I'm not really about anything there."
While in Atlanta for a Braves game and a trip to Six Flags, Price molested one victim that he told to get in bed with him, according to testimony heard on Thursday.
Victim C said that Price had stolen his childhood. The mother of Victim C recalled that Price used to say "show me your friends and I'll show you your future," then she added "and all the time he was messing with our little ones."
Prosecutors said the abuse happened between 2000 and 2006. That same year Price went to Nicaragua for two years.
Prosecutors said it was to flee the criminal case, but his attorney said it was a mission trip that had already been planned. Price was charged immediately on his return to the US, and was indicted on the charges in April.
"I believe that the world is a safer place for the time that Bobby Price remains in prison," Seth Langson told WBTV. Langson represents one of the victims who was 11 at the time. "Victims of clergy abuse, their core gets ripped out, they lose their faith in God and the ability to believe in God or church. I can't think of a bigger betrayal than when a member of the clergy sexually abuses a child."
The sentence for Price was part of an Alford Plea. That's where defendants plead guilty to the charges without actually admitting guilt.
Prosecutors consolidated three charges of taking indecent liberties with a child into one, resulting in the 16-20 month prison active prison term. Price will also be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years.
Price spoke briefly just before being sentenced.
"I just want to say that I came here today to do the right thing," Price told Judge Spainhour. "I believe in the system of justice here. I'm committed to becoming a productive member of society."
Attorney Langson pointed out that neither Price, nor any member of the church, offered any apologies to the victims or their families.
The father of one of the victims also spoke. He looked at that big crowd there to support Price, they were people he went to church with, and he told them he loved them. He told Price he was praying for him, but then he looked at Price and said "Bobby knows what he done wrong, I ain't got to tell him. I didn't know. I was fooled."
There is still an unresolved case from Mecklenburg County involving Price and an incident at a Charlotte church.
Langson added that one positive thing that came from today's proceeding was to show victims of sexual abuse that there are steps that can be taken and that justice can be served.
He encouraged any victims of Price, or any other molester, to come forward and report any abuse.