Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Youth pastor sentenced in molestation case

Des Moines, Iowa - A Des Moines youth pastor failed Monday in attempts to revoke his previously arranged plea bargain and instead was sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting three preteen girls.

Damion Armond Rutues, 26, earlier had agreed to enter a "no contest" plea to three counts of lascivious acts with a child.

Rutues did not admit guilt under that agreement but essentially admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to find him guilty.

Polk County authorities say Rutues, whose mother is pastor at Learning of the Lord Revival Ministry, 1216 Forest Ave. , molested three girls between the ages of 8 and 11 in his apartment and his church office.

But Rutues, who insists the plea was made only to spare his family bad publicity, said Monday that new evidence — a man's conversation with his mother at a suburban restaurant — suggests that the witnesses against him were coached by officials at another church.

"I did not understand that I could not take the plea back," Rutues told Polk County District Judge Artis Reis. "I did not commit these crimes, and I believe that this new evidence (will show that) these kids were influenced in what to say."

Reis disagreed.

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum possible sentence, noting, among other things, Rutues' history and lack of remorse. Rutues' background includes a charge of child endangerment for physically assaulting one of the girls who later accused him of molestation.

It is The Des Moines Register's policy not to name the victims of sexual assaults.

"When you look at a mirror, I hope you see a disease unworthy of a long life," one of the girls told Rutues in court.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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