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Ex-pastor indicted on rapes to get plea deal



Published: Sun, November 1, 2009 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken

The former Cornersburg pastor would not have to register his whereabouts as a sex offender.

YOUNGSTOWN — Dale Giffin, the former Zion Lutheran Church pastor indicted on six counts charging him with raping a young adult female parishioner, is scheduled to plead guilty or no contest to two counts of simple assault this week.

The plea hearing is set for 10 a.m. Thursday before Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who is slated to sentence him in the same hearing.

Natasha K. Frenchko, an assistant county prosecutor, said she is recommending that Giffin be placed on probation, with the condition that he not serve as a clergyman. “We don’t want him occupying a position of trust in the community,” she said in a recent interview.

The duration of the probation will be up to the judge, Frenchko said, adding that she will drop four of the rape counts and reduce the other two to simple assault.

The accuser is aware of the contents of the prosecution’s plea offer and sentencing recommendation, Frenchko said. The accuser, who now lives west of the Mississippi River, is scheduled to attend the hearing, where she is expected to make a victim-impact statement, Frenchko said.

The original rape charges in the indictment are first-degree felonies, each carrying three to 10 years in prison, up to a $20,000 fine and a sex-offender registration requirement upon conviction.

The simple-assault charges are first-degree misdemeanors, each carrying a potential penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

The misdemeanor counts say Giffin knowingly caused, or attempted to cause, physical harm to another person, but they make no reference to any sexual offense, so Giffin would not have to register as a sex offender after conviction of those offenses.

Giffin, who was pastor of the Cornersburg church for almost 30 years, resigned from that post and from the Lutheran ministry nearly a year ago. Giffin, 60, of Topaz Circle, Canfield, has no prior criminal record.

The indicted offenses are alleged to have occurred between 1993 and 1996. Giffin pleaded innocent to the rape charges and remains free on bond.

Frenchko said she made the plea bargain in exchange for an agreement by the defense to drop its motion to dismiss the charges. The defense dropped the motion before the judge ruled on it.

“We considered all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, and it’s a fair resolution,” Frenchko said, declining to elaborate.

“Everyone should be satisfied” because, by entering the plea, Giffin would be making an admission that he committed crimes, said Dawn Cantalamessa, another assistant county prosecutor. To date, Giffin has made no admissions of guilt, she said.

The dismissal motion, filed by Atty. J. Gerald Ingram, said the rape charges should be thrown out because they are vague and lack the necessary element of physical force or threat.

Neither Ingram nor Giffin could be reached for comment.

Giffin used his status and position in the church to take advantage of the woman, who came forward with her allegations in August 2008, Cantalamessa said.

Giffin was “an authority figure,” and the accuser viewed him “as a father figure,” Frenchko said in court papers.

“It’s important to prosecute anyone who holds a position of trust and violates that position,” Cantalamessa added.

Cantalamessa reported that Giffin sexually abused the accuser beginning when she was 15, but, because the statute of limitations then in effect has expired, the charges in the indictment pertain only to crimes purportedly committed during the accuser’s young adulthood, Cantalamessa said. The accuser turned 18 in 1989.

“If the state is allowed to proceed with the case, the defendant would be forced to stand trial, for essentially his life, for having consensual sex with another adult,” Ingram argued in a court filing.

Based on the allegations, Lutheran Bishop Elizabeth Eaton asked for and received Giffin’s resignation from the Zion pastorship last November. Giffin also resigned from the Evangelical Lutheran Church clergy roster even though the bishop said she did not ask him to do so.

Bishop Eaton declined to make any new comments for this story, but she said in September that she found the allegations against Giffin “very credible” and that she believed it would be helpful if Giffin would admit his guilt.

milliken@vindy.com


Comments

1OmManiPadmeHum(4 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

But if it was a PRIEST from a CATHOLIC church... All I have to say is that the b@st@rd should do the time, pay for the crime, just like anyone else if it can be proven w/in a reasonable doubt.

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2queenie(12 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

WHY would anyone wait 13-16 years to report something like this. The girl was 15 years old at the time and knew what she was doing was wrong so why wait all this time? Granted what he did was wrong and should be held accountable for it but I think the authorities need to check this girl a little closer as she may not be as innocent as she wants everyone to believe. How much money is she trying to collect from the church as that seems to be the trend these days.

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3olepops45(39 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Atty. Ingram said in a court filing:

If the state is allowed to proceed with the case, the defendant would be forced to stand trial, for essentially his life, for having consensual sex with another adult.

Maybe Ingram needs to read about the age of consent, and what age is one legally an adult.
I hope he doesn't have any young females in his family, as they won't be safe with his kind of reasoning. I guess soul's for sale got his in exchange for a license to practise law.

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4redheadgrandma(13 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Will all Lutheran churches be stigmatized by this minister? Anyone who joined this church because they were so impressed by the minister's personality should rethink the decision to join. And I would imagine that there are people in this church that are still standing by this man.

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5JudyJones(148 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

"Cantalamessa reported that Giffin sexually abused the accuser beginning when she was 15,"...

Big red flag, this guy needs to be in jail and kept away from kids..

We applaud this survivor, she was only 15 when it started, For those who do not understand the trauma and brainwashing that goes on with clergy and their victims, they do not understand WHY it takes so long for survivors to have the strength, and courage to speak up and come forward.

She should not be judged, the perpetrator is the one who needs to be put away.

Judy Block Jones, SNAP Ohio Valley Director, 636-433-2511
(Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
http://youngstowntruth.org/

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6letlightshine(8 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Remembering back, weren't there at least two other victims of Dale's for whom the statue of limitations has passed? Were they not alos children when it began? Were they groomed in confirmation class? How many more who are too timid to come forward? Dale is a predator and should be put away. He is a disgrace to the Lutheran church and so many have been deceived. I pray that Judge Evans sees thru this[power and money stuff] and lets justice be done!

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7emeraldlady_03(9 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Judy. It took courage to come forward.

I am angry that he will not have to register as a sex offender. Come on Judge Evans. What is up?

This is like a tiny slap on the hand for someone who by his actions of resigning from the clergy admitted wrong doing. And he gets what? A little $1,000.00 fine if anything??
Some justice.

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8mightknowfacts(2 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

he admitted to consentual sex.....immoral yes.... illegal no

if everyone who had extramarital sex had to stand trial because a party later regretted it.....well i don't think there would be enough jails in this country to hold everyone.

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9liveyourbestlife(7 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Everyone knows how easy it is for criminals to get off of what they deserve in this town. Escpecially with Igrahm as your attorney. How does he sleep at night? How does his mother live knowing her son's life is dedicated to letting sex offenders murderers and criminals walk out of the court room doors just so he can make a buck? my friend is left with cuts on her arms and all Mr. giffin gets is a slap on the wrist? He has been totally inappropriate with so many young girls and it's thier word against his. Do people acutally think he would do this in the daylight???!!! Dale is a sociopath. He has no remorse for what terror he has caused all of these girls forced into silence. Did any one read what I wrote before? There are more women. There are girls. My best friend is one of them. She was on a mission trip and when the detectives went through the church's documents guess which year they had NO RECORD of the trip???? The year he decided he wanted to RUIN HER LIFE. Starting 20 years ago through today Dale has been touching little children. Do you get it now? He preys on them. He councels thier unknowing dysfunctional families, knows the father is absent in the childs life and PREYS ON HER. He had a secret apartment building next to the church. When these charges were brought to him - where did half of his stuff go??
Don't be so ignorent about the workings of evil. We were told there would be satan's puppets dressed up as an angel of light. He is nothing but a coward. HIS LIFE IS MEANINGLESS. HE IS A LIE. HIS WHOLE LIFE IS A LIE. He is a SICK MAN. If anyone in this town gave a damn about the well being of children he would of been put away by now. But they don't. There is no hope in people of position. Look at the judge. Not even a registration as a SEX offender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My friend and I pray together daily. We pray for HIS NEXT VICTIM BECAUSE THERE WILL BE ONE. We know his real day will come because we know he will not be able to control himself and one of these days hes going to pick the wrong girl and the wrong family to mess with. Keep your daughters and young girls by your side they could be next.

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