Church leaders rally to support pervert
Yesterday, Darren Paden, above, of Dearborn, Missouri, was jailed for 50 years for sexually abusing a girl over a 10-year period, starting when his victim was just five.
A particularly shocking aspect of the case is the level of support Paden received from church and community leaders who, according to this report, begged a judge to go easy on the paedophile. Worse, the victim is the one who is now being vilified by many community members.
Said Gene Blankenship, a trustee at the New Market Christian Church in Dearborn:
Only God, Darren and (the victim) know what truly happened. I feel Darren may have admitted to things he did not do after hours of interrogation and all the pressure to admit guilt.
Blankenship was among about 16 community members who began sending letters to the court from September, praising Paden for his service in the Gulf War and a junior deacon at New Market Christian Church.
Wrote friend Adele Brightwell:
Darren is one of the most admirable people I know. He holds fast to his morals.
Another supporter was Darla Hall Emmendorfer:
I truly believe that Darren has already suffered extensively for his actions by being kept away from his young children and his home life, and by not being able to provide for his family. Because of the significant difficulties that will face his innocent family, I would ask you, Judge Van Amburg, to grant Darren a sentence of probation or at least the lowest possible sentence.
Paden’s great-aunt, 82-year-old Dixie Wilson, said she would “feel sorry for the girl” if she had been abused — but she doesn’t believe the victim’s claims and instead sees the case as a test of the community’s religious faith.
Our community is one that we deeply believe in God and we’re not going to buckle under anything. We’re not going to let it destroy all of us. We’re going to keep doing our good works and doing what we believe and rely on each other.
Missouri prosecutors are reportedly mystified that so many community members are supporting the admitted sex offender. Paden was sentenced to 50 years after pleading guilty in August to two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy. Said Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd:
There are certainly a few good people in this community who have offered support to this young victim. It is shocking, however, that many continue to support a defendant whose guilt was never in doubt. If it takes a village to raise a child, what is a child to do when the village turns its back and supports a confessed child molester?
Paden’s 28-year-old son, Anthony, has also been charged with sex abuse, although his case remains pending.
Paden told police shortly after his arrest that he began watching pornographic videos with the girl in 2001 or 2002 and abused her once or twice a month for the next 10 years, but he refused to plead guilty as he had publicly accused the girl of lying.