TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Two youth ministers at a Tulsa megachurch say misdemeanor charges of failing to report child abuse against them should be dismissed because no one in the case has been, nor can be, charged with child abuse.
Victory Christian Center ministers John Daugherty, his wife, Charica, and three other employees were charged in September for allegedly waiting two weeks to notify authorities of the reported rape of a 13-year-old girl by a former employee in a stairwell on the campus of the 17,000-member church. All have pleaded not guilty.
The motion, filed Friday in Tulsa County District Court, states that state law defines child abuse as an act committed "by a person responsible for the child's health safety or welfare."
The document says that 20-year-old Chris Denman, who is charged with first-degree rape of the girl and other sex crimes, was not a church employee at the time of the Aug. 13 assault, was not responsible for the girl and cannot under state law be charged with child abuse.
State law "applies to a very specific event, abuse by a person responsible for the child's health, safety, or welfare," according to the motion. "The facts of this case do not meet" state law.
The Daughertys and their attorney, Jason Robertson, did not return phone calls seeking comment Saturday.
John Daugherty is the son of church co-founder and head pastor Sharon Daugherty, who is not charged in the case.
Denman is due in court Oct. 22 to enter a plea on the charges related to the 13-year-old, including rape, forcible sodomy and lewd molestation after waiving a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
The 13-year-old's mother has sued the church seeking more than $75,000. She claims the church sought "damage control" rather than pursuing the case properly.
Denman also faces charges of molesting a 15-year-old girl and making a lewd proposal and using a computer to commit a sex crime involving a 12-year-old girl. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. Another former church employee, Israel Shalom Castillo, 23, has pleaded not guilty to charges of making a lewd proposal to a child and using a computer to commit a sex crime.
John and Charica Daugherty's motion also claims Castillo was never responsible for the health, safety or welfare of children at the church. Both Denman and Castillo had been employed as janitors.