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Pastor gets 158 years to life in molestation case

By Andy Furillo, McClatchy Newspapers –

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rio Linda Baptist Church Pastor Tommy Gene Daniels was sentenced to 158 years to life in prison Friday for molesting five little girls in a respite and child-care operation his family ran out of his home.

In handing down the term to the 49-year-old Daniels, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Trena H. Burger-Plavan told the pastor he “took advantage of his position of trust and confidence with very young victims.”

Daniels, exhibiting facial grimaces throughout the sentencing hearing, made no comment. He has continued to maintain his innocence. His attorney, Michael L. Chastaine, filed a motion for a new trial that the judge rejected. Chastaine said afterward he intends to appeal the Dec. 8 verdict handed down by the Sacramento jury.

The five victims in the case were between the ages of 5 and 13 when Daniels touched them inappropriately while they were in his family’s care in his residence. The molestations took place in his house between December 2002 and August 2007.

One of Daniels’ victims, who is now 12, began to read her victim’s impact statement in the courtroom. She said the molestation “changed me forever.” When the girl began to cry, her mother finished the statement where the young victim said she is “terrified of the dark” and has a recurring vision of a “blurred face with a creepy smile” where Daniels’ “points at me as if to say, ‘I’m coming for you.’”

“I’ve tried to forget what happened, but I have not been able to and probably will never be able to,” the girl’s statement said.

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