A 61-year old Pennsylvania pastor accused of sexually assaulting a child over 20 years ago committed suicide on Monday.
Scott Sechrist of Bristol Township shot himself instead of facing 20 counts of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, 10 counts of statutory rape, and 10 counts of aggravated indecent assault, at a trial that was to begin next week. He was out on $500,000 unsecured bail.
According to prosecutors, Sechrist began molesting a nine-year old in 1989, when he was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Morrisville. The alleged assaults began with inappropriate comments, such as Sechrist telling the victim that she had a "cute" behind.
The comments allegedly escalated to him groping her and, eventually, forcing her to have sexual intercourse. The victim said the assaults occurred during evening prayer meetings, multiple times per week, and lasted 10-15 minutes at a time. The attacks ended in 1992.
A Bucks County Courier Times reporter tweeted that the now 34-year old woman reported the incidents in 1992, but recanted her statements out of fear that she would be separated from her mother. She also said that she was confused about the abuse.
"The Bible says it's wrong, but it was happening," she said in court.
Bucks County prosecutor Jennifer Schorn told reporters that Sechrist left a suicide note maintaining his innocence, but she did not provide further details. However, Schorn stated that her office has evidence that proves Sechrist's guilt.
The victim recorded a conversation with the accused, in which he admits to sexually assaulting her over 20 years ago. The tape was played at a March preliminary hearing.
"I thought about that for years. I babysat my nieces. I changed diapers," a male voice identified as Sechrist said. "I don't know why it was you ... I don't know. I can't answer that."