MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The jury hearing the case of pastor Cederick McMillian found him guilty of sex abuse and sodomy after deliberating for an hour Wednesday morning, October 17.
The jury chose not to take a lunch break before they began deliberations. McMillian was convicted sodomy and sex abuse involving his step-daughter, who the prosecution said was 14-years-old at the time the abuse happened.
Defense attorney Jeff Deen said he's disappointed with the verdict.
"I think it was a good cross section of the community, and they heard the evidence and worked hard on the case, but they have to make the decision," said Deen.
He was indicted for the crimes in 2011, but investigators said they happened between 2007 and 2008. Assistant District attorney Nicki Patterson said the victim's mother discovered "inappropriate text messages" between McMillian and the girl.
The jury heard closing arguments from Patterson and Deen Wednesday morning before deliberating.
Patterson argued that McMillian was a manipulator; that this trial was not about the victim's mother not liking McMillian. Patterson told the jury this was about McMillian becoming attracted to the 14-year-old victim and taking advantage of her.
"It's manipulating a young girl into really believing she's in love with someone, and it is an adult using their powers of persuasion. This was a person telling a 14-year-old that he was in love with her. That she was beautiful, that he was going to marry her," said Patterson.
Patterson reiterated to the jury that although intercourse may not have started until the victim was 16, other sexual acts did happen when she was younger.
Deen spent much of his closing arguments picking out what he called "holes" in the victim's and her mother's testimony.
Deen said his client was in love with the victim. Deen told the jury that McMillian did do some stupid things, but they were not against the law.
McMillian, who is the pastor of New Birth Community Church, served as the president of the Prichard Chamber of Commerce at the time of his arrest and, at one point, served as the headmaster of the Prichard Preparatory School.
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