Friday, November 04, 2005


Church organist admits sex with girl, 10; receives 15 years in jail

MILFORD, Conn. — A former Derby church organist pleaded guilty in Superior Court Monday to having sex with a10-year-old girl, one of three young girls from Derby and Ansonia he admitted to sexually assaulting between 2000 and 2004.

Robert A. Nelson, 51, of Naugatuck, will go to jail for 15 years and receive 15 years probation as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

If Nelson violates the probation after his release, he would face an additional 10 years behind bars, according to Assistant State's Attorney Mary Galvin. Nelson received the same sentence in Waterbury Superior Court last Wednesday, when he pleaded guilty to first-degree, second-degree and fourth-degree sexual assault for acts committed with two girls. Both sentences will run concurrently. When released, Nelson would be barred from contacting the girls or their families and would have to register as a sex offender.

Nelson is to be formally sentenced on Jan. 6 in Waterbury and Jan. 9 in Milford. Appearing at Milford Superior Court Monday, Nelson wore a yellow prison jumpsuit and was surrounded by four courthouse sheriffs as he entered guilty pleas to first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.

Both charges stem from acts with the same girl, Galvin said. Nelson had sexual intercourse with her in a parked car on Wesley Street in Ansonia, while the risk of injury occurred in a car parked outside Derby High School, Galvin said.

According to court documents released in December, the girl was 10 years old when she first met Nelson, then an organist at Immanuel St. James Episcopal Church in Derby. Nelson would take her and other young girls to his Naugatuck apartment, where he would ply them with wine coolers and pay them to watch pornographic movies, pose naked for pictures, and photograph him masturbating, the records stated.

One of the girls described having sexual intercourse with Nelson about 20 times.

While four victims appeared in Nelson's arrest warrant, he was only charged in connection with three of the girls.

After watching the hearing in Milford, the stepfather of one of the victims said that Nelson should have received more jail time. "They should have shown him no mercy," said the man, who wished to remain anonymous to protect the identity of his stepdaughter, now 16 years old.

Police caught Nelson after receiving a call from his attorney, Ethan Levin-Epstein, who said his client was being blackmailed by a woman who had pornographic pictures Nelson had taken of her daughter. The woman, Mary Smith, of Ansonia, was arrested on first-degree larceny and extortion.

Smith was sentenced in June to three years in jail for the larceny charge after the extortion charge was dropped.

Matthew Higbee, who covers the Naugatuck Valley, can be reached at 736-5440.

Nelson would also take the girls on trips to buy clothes and to amusement parks, the records stated.

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

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