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The 26-year-old Warrenton man used his position as a Christian pop singer and the son of Life Church’s leader to manipulate girls and women into having inappropriate relationships, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors told jurors that Baird was a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the underage victim for abuse and sent her sexually suggestive text messages before groping her at the megachurch multiple times between January and September 2015.
Judge Burke F. McCahill sentenced Baird to five years in jail, but most of that term was suspended so the former church leader will spend only eight months in jail.
Three other women say Baird manipulated them, as well, but the judge refused to allow their testimony because it would be highly prejudicial.
“The list of your victims is growing longer by the week,” the girl’s mother said at sentencing. “Some of them self-harm and some have tried to commit suicide because of what you did to them.” The girl and her family say they have been shunned at their church since coming forward, and the judge shamed the religious community.
Jules Woodson was 17 years old when she says she was sexually assaulted by Savage during a ride home from church. At the time, Savage was a 22-year-old youth minister at a Houston church. Woodson recently went public about her story on a Christian blog.
She said she notified a different pastor, who told her to keep quiet. she says Savage left the church weeks later.