Church leader, adopted son found guilty of abuse

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2001

The Associated Press

MEADVILLE – Church leader David Earl King and his adopted son, Nathan Paul King, were found guilty Wednesday of abusing a 14-year-old boy who attended their church and school.

A jury deliberated only 45 minutes before returning the verdict after three days of testimony. The courtroom was quiet when the verdict was read and the Kings expressed no emotion after the outcome.

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David Earl King was sentenced to 36 years in prison for sexual battery, conspiracy to commit sexual battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was fined $16,000 on all counts.

Nathan Paul King received 18 years and 6 months for the same charges and was also fined $16,000.

Circuit Judge Mike Smith addressed both sides after the verdict.

”This point in your life has come. It will soon be gone. It is time for you to get on with the rest of life,” Smith said. ”I know it has been difficult for you. I know for members of King family it has been difficult for them.”

The defense called only one witness, Nathan Paul King, who testified that he had lived with King since he was 10 years old and had slept in the same room with the preacher while the elder King recovered from injuries suffered in a fall.

Nathan Paul King is also charged with sexual battery on another child, an 11-year-old boy.

The elder King did not testify.

”I would like to say this, it will probably take years to heal the hurt in my family,” the 14-year-old victim’s father said after the verdict. ”I am so thankful more children will not have to go through what my child went through. I feel sorry for the family of Reverend King.”

The 14-year-old recounted Tuesday alleged sexual incidents that he claimed took place with David Earl King.

The mother of the boy testified earlier Tuesday she became suspicious when her son’s interest in church began to wane.

Under questioning by defense attorneys and prosecutors, Nathan Paul King denied he had sex with the elder King, the child or man accused in the case, Gary Bates.

Asked by Assistant District Attorney Bill Goodwin if he ever witnessed the elder King having sex with another person, Nathan Paul King said ”No, sir.”

Bates, of Denham Springs, La., whose testimony began Tuesday, under questioning by the defense, acknowledged that he was promised five years probation in return for cooperating with prosecutors.

Goodwin reminded the court that while that was the recommendation from prosecutors, the trial judge would have the final say. Bates has entered a plea, but no one has said to what charge.

Bates said he was threatened with expulsion from the church by David Earl King if he did not continue to have sex with the child.

Bates testified Tuesday that he, David Earl King, and the young victim engaged in sex together, ”three or four times.” Bates said Nathan Paul King joined them twice.

Smith moved the trial to Meadville because of news media coverage in Marion and Walthall counties.