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Iowa pastor sent to prison

Steve Woodhouse, The Knoxville Journal-Express, Iowa –

Knoxville — The main courtroom in the Marion County Courthouse was filled with hugs and praise moments after former Pella Pastor Patrick Edouard was sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Edouard was convicted of four counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist and one count of entering into a pattern/scheme of exploitation by a therapist. He was sentenced to one year in prison on each of the exploitation counts and five years on the ongoing charge. The individual sentences per exploitation count will be served consecutively, and the sentence on the pattern charge will run concurrently with those.

Members of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Pella Police Department were stationed around the courtroom filled with members of the community Edouard’s crimes had affected. Edouard’s attorney, Angela Campbell, filed a motion in arrest of judgment and sought a new trial before the sentencing proceedings began. Judge Paul Huscher felt the jury’s findings were supported by adequate evidence and ruled against Campbell’s motions.

“The motion for a new trial is therefore denied,” Huscher said.

The adjectives “wicked,” “evil,” “controlling” and “manipulative were recurring in each of the four victim impact statements given on the stand before the sentence was pronounced. Edouard, wearing a dark suit, sat quietly with his elbows on the table and his hands folded together throughout the hearing. He did not move a muscle as the statements were read.

“This man was my pastor,” the first victim said. “I was searching for guidance.” Instead, she said she was sucked into the web of a “dark, perverse predator,” who misused his power to enter her life.

“He had no intention of falling in love with me,” she said. “He exploited my weaknesses and strengths.”

The first victim described how Edouard controlled her time. She said she always felt her feelings for him had always been warped.

“Edouard must take responsibility for his selfish actions,” she said. Edouard was accused of “raping her mind, body and soul” as she read her statement.

The first victim, as did subsequent victims, also described how Edouard’s actions affected their marriages and their children.

“He ruined my family relationships,” the second victim said. She added that she did not speak out against Edouard because she wanted to protect her family from the pain learning of the incidents would cause them.

The women, who met Edouard through their church, thus, their faith, also invoked God on the witness stand. They discussed how the Lord is helping them, and their families, heal from the ordeal.

“You ripped apart my marriage, but God is repairing it,” the third victim said. “I’ve learned I can be free. You can’t have me because I belong to God.”

“In no way, did I see (Edouard) as a threat to me,” the fourth victim said. During her relationship with Edouard, she said she felt she had not shown her husband the love and affection he sought. This made him feel “worthless.”

“God put an end to the abuse,” the fourth victim said. She went on to say that clergy sexual abuse is not isolated. She hopes women, churches and the community will educate themselves. No one should regard a pastor as perfect, or incapable of doing wrong, she warned.

Two of the victims indicated that they can no longer attend the church they used to, when they had met Edouard. Memories of their abuse haunt them too much.

All of the victims indicated that they are not the only four Edouard has abused. They hoped the others would find the strength to come forward.

While sentencing Edouard, Huscher said he could not take these alleged, uncharged other victims into account when pronouncing the sentence.

Asssitant Attorney General Laura Roan, who prosecuted the case, indicated that a presentence investigation recommended that Edouard be sent to prison. She pleaded with the judge for the prison sentence because Edouard had allegedly shown no remorse for what he had done, and that he continually denies the criminality of his actions.

“He remains disconnected,” Roan said.

Campbell asked Huscher for a five-year suspended sentence, saying that Edouard will never be allowed to be a member of the clergy again and therefore, cannot repeat these crimes.

“He has admitted he crossed professional boundaries,” Campbell said. “He has never said he should be allowed to be a clergy.”

Campbell reminded the court about the impact Edouard’s actions have had on his own family, as well as the victims’. The presentence investigation also found that he was unlikely to reoffend, he has no prior criminal history or a propensity to get hooked on drugs.

“He does have a family who has been supportive of him.”

Edouard was then given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf. He offered a “deep, profound apology” for his actions.

“(I’m) sorry that I brought all of us here,” Edouard said.

“In each of these offenses, the defendant had the opportunity to reflect on his activities,” Huscher said. “Guilt piled up” according to Edouard’s own testimony at trial, Huscher continued. Edouard knew he was doing wrong, and continued to do it.

Edouard’s time will be served at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale. Following his term of incarceration, he will remain in the custody of the Department of Corrections, under a special sentence, for an additional 10 years. This sentence is similar to parole.

Huscher told Edouard that because he is guilty of a sexual offense, any future sexual offenses could subject him to even more harsh punishments. Additional terms of his sentence include fines, which were suspended, submission of a DNA specimen, registration on the Sex Offender Registry, restitution to be determined, entering a sex offender treatment program and no contact orders with the victims for five more years.

Edouard was not handcuffed, but he was escorted from the courtroom by Lt. Justin Kingery and Sheriff Ron Goemaat. The Sheriff’s Office will keep him in custody until they deliver him to the prison.

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