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July 31, 2013

No ruling on state records

TULSA — A court ruling was delayed Tuesday on whether certain state records are admissible as evidence in the case of a Tulsa megachurch being sued by the mother of a girl who was raped last year on ministry property.

The private, in-chambers hearing before Tulsa District Judge Rebecca Nightingale was continued to an unspecified date because the Department of Human Services records the defense had requested were not yet ready, according to online court records and one of the attorneys in the case.

Nightingale will later decide whether the records can be used in the Jan. 6 jury trial.

The mother of the minor girl is suing Tulsa-based ministry Victory Christian Center in civil court after the girl was raped in a ministry stairwell. She is alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and is seeking more than $75,000.

The Associated Press is not naming the girl’s mother in order to protect the girl’s identity.

Both Victory attorney Malinda Matlock and Michael Atkinson, an attorney for the mother, declined to comment on the hearing or the records, citing their sensitive nature.

Last December, former Victory janitor Chris Denman was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the rape of the girl and other crimes. Another former Victory janitor, Israel Castillo, faces a Sept. 3 jury trial on charges he sent lewd Facebook messages to a 14-year-old girl. He has pleaded not guilty.

Last September, five Victory employees — including the son and daughter-in-law of ministry head and co-founder Sharon Daugherty — were arrested for waiting two weeks to report the girl’s rape

In March, youth pastors John and Charica Daugherty received five-year deferred sentences and no jail time after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of waiting to report the August 2012 rape.

Three of the Daughertys’ co-workers also pleaded no contest to the same charges of failing to report child abuse. Paul Willemstein and Anna George were sentenced to 30 days in jail, and Harold “Frank” Sullivan received a one-year suspended sentence.

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