Former pastor pleads no contest  to child sexual abuse charges

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A 78-year-old former pastor entered a no-contest plea to charges stemming from alleged possession of child pornography and sexual assault of a Norman minor.

Phillip Paul Ratliff, a former pastor at Alameda Baptist Church, pleaded no contest Wednesday to two counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16, one count of lewd molestation/indecent proposal to a child and one count of aggravated possession of child pornography.

In Cleveland County District Court, Judge Thad Balkman sentenced Ratliff to 13 years at the Department of Corrections and 12 years probation, according to the court clerk's office.

Officers were dispatched May 20, 2018, in response to a report of someone possessing child pornography and allegations that the person performed lewd acts on a juvenile relative, according to an affidavit.

During an interview with a Mary Abbott Children's House forensic interviewer, Ratliff's relative said he showed her child pornography and sexually assaulted her at a Norman residence, starting about four years prior to the report date.

Based on the information gained, Ratliff was taken into custody in May 2018 and booked into the Cleveland County Detention Center.

According to the Oklahoma State Courts Network, Ratliff was charged with two counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16, aggravated possession of child pornography and lewd molestation or indecent proposal to a child in 2018.

During victim impact statements made to the court, the victim told the court they have endured pain due to Ratliff's actions.

"Emotionally, it has been devastating. People look at me differently now, and there has been so much negativity. I find it hard to trust anyone," the victim said Wednesday. "People judge me and try to relate to what I am going through when they have no idea how much pain this has caused me."

A sibling of the juvenile victim reported that everyone in the home has been impacted by what happened. Family members are going so far as to remodel the entire house, the sibling said, and the emotional toll has made daily life and work difficult.

"It's been a huge disappointment to lose him and to know he lied to us and caused harm to the ones I love," the sibling said.

The victim's mother said she once looked up to Ratliff.

"[The victim] struggles every day, blaming [themselves] for all that has happened. We keep trying to assure [them] that none of this is [their] fault," the mother said. "He has hurt us in so many ways. … We no longer have a support system. He has turned our world upside down. Sometimes we wonder how we are able to hold on to our sanity."

Ratliff must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for probation. Ratliff's jury trial had been scheduled to start in September.

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