Tulsa, OK — A former janitor at a Tulsa megachurch was sentenced to 55 years in prison Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl in the church’s stairwell.
Chris Denman was sentenced to an additional five years of probation and a $12,000 fine.
In October, Denman pleaded guilty to first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy of a child, lewd molestation, making a lewd proposal to a child and two counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. There was no plea agreement in place, and Denman faced a life sentence.
Denman was accused of the August rape of a 13-year-old girl on the campus of Victory Christian Center, a megachurch in Tulsa that has 17,000 members. He was also charged with making a lewd proposal to a 12-year-old girl and molesting a 15-year-old girl.
Denman quoted Bible verses at his Wednesday sentencing and said he wanted to go to prison. Prosecutors said at the hearing that Denman was arrogant and used religion and the safety of the church to prey on young girls.
A second former employee, Israel Castillo, awaits trial on a charge of making a lewd or indecent proposal to a child. Prosecutors said Castillo sent explicit Facebook Messages to a 14-year-old girl he had known for at least two years.
Five church employees accused of waiting two weeks to report the alleged rape are facing misdemeanor charges. They include the son and daughter-in-law of the head pastor, Sharon Daugherty. All five have pleaded not guilty.
The 13-year-old victim’s mother sued the church and accused employees of trying to cover up the rape. She said the church was more interested in damage control and making her daughter feel as if she were to blame for the rape.
“Those people were family to her, and they told her she was a liar,” the girl’s mother told The Associated Press. “In hindsight, I sat there and watched my child suffer and had no idea how to help her.”