A former youth leader at a Virginia megachurch is headed off to jail for eight months after pleading no contest to using electronic means to commit a sex crime with a minor.
Jordan Baird, 26, was found guilty on five counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian. The trial, which lasted four days, ended with jurors recommending a five-month sentence for Baird. They were unable to reach a verdict on the charge that the disgraced pastor pleaded no contest to. After being released, Baird will serve five years of probation and be forced to pay $12,000 in restitution, the Prince William Times reports.
While at the Life Church in Manassas, Virginia, Baird reportedly leveraged his role as a youth leader and Christian singer to trick girls and young women into relationships. During a tense courtroom appearance, one victim told him “you kept me silent for a year and a half and I want you to know you no longer have control over me. This is not your story. This is my story and I will use it to help other victims. You picked the wrong girl to mess with. Thank you for empowering me to stand up and fight for what is worth fighting for.”
Prosecutors painted Baird as “a deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator,” according to the PW Times. In addition to sending the victim a series of inappropriate messages, he groped her on several occasions inside the church. The victim says that she resisted and verbally objected to Baird’s treatments. Prosecutors also tried to introduce letters written by three other women claiming to be victim’s of Baird’s behavior but the judge barred those testimonies from being entered into evidence. One of the state’s attorneys added “she knew the defendant for years; this was not some random guy groping her. This is where she grew up,” according to InsideNova.
During the sentencing, the victim’s mother told Baird, “the list of your victims is growing longer by the week. Some of them self-harm and some have tried to commit suicide because of what you did to them.”
Even more disturbing, the church allegedly tried to cover up Baird’s abuse. When the family reported the behavior to the church, they brought in a former co-pastor to investigate. The victim’s family claim that they have been “shunned” from the church and that they’ve been shamed and ridiculed by former friends. In his sentencing, the judge was blunt, saying “there is a history of churches offering sanctuary for people to be free from the outside. They are supposed to be there to protect people.”