Ministers Who Didn't Report Girl's Molestation Claim Given ProbationAP , Associated Press
Mar. 14, 1991 10:15 PM ET
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Two ministers convicted of failing to notify authorities when a student at their church-run school told them she had been molested by her stepfather were sentenced to three years' probation.
The Rev. Arthur E. Hodges III, pastor of the South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, and the Rev. George E. Nobbs, the church's assistant pastor, were convicted of the misdemeanor in November and were sentenced Wednesday.
Clergymen are exempt from the reporting statute in regard to church work, but a jury decided Nobbs and Hodges church roles did not shield them from their responsibilities as school administrators.
The victim said she had been molested over a seven-year period that ended about four years ago when she was 17. She reported the alleged episodes to Hodges after they ended.
Her stepfather, Lyn Dennis Meche, 40, was a former lay preacher with the church. He was sentenced to three years probation in May 1989 after pleading no contest to two counts of misdemeanor child abuse involving his stepdaughter.
Instead of reporting the allegation to authorities, Hodges counseled the family, stripped Meche of his pastoral duties and had him apologize in front of the congregation.
Nobbs, 44, is principal of South Bay Christian Academy in Chula Vista. Hodges, 34, oversees its operations as president and senior pastor of the fundamentalist church in southern San Diego County.
Both pastors were convicted of violating a 1981 state law that requires health practitioners, child-care custodians and employees of child-protective agencies to report suspected child abuse cases to police.