A Lithonia pastor who has been dogged for five years by allegations of child molestation was convicted Tuesday night on charges of molesting a 15-year-old male parishioner.
The Rev. Troy Brown, pastor of the Greater Anointed Tabernacle Worship Center, was found guilty of 25 counts of molestation: 11 counts of aggravated child molestation and 14 counts of child molestation.
Moments before the verdict was read aloud in court, Brown peered over his attorney's shoulder at the written verdict and put his head in his hands.
DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said afterward, "There is a special place in hell for somebody who molests a child in the name of religion."
Brown's attorney, Keith Adams, promised the case would not end. "I think the jury was probably overwhelmed by the evidence of prior allegations, and obviously it affected their guilty verdict. I respect their effort, but I disagree with their decision, and we will be appealing shortly."
Vemie Graham, an assistant pastor at Brown's church, stood on the steps of the courthouse as about 40 parishioners filed out, many of them in tears. "He is not guilty. He is not guilty," Graham said.
Brown could receive up to 30 years on each count of aggravated molestation and up to 20 years on the other 14 counts. A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.
Lawyers arguing whether the Lithonia pastor molested the boy wrapped up the case Tuesday with a prosecutor accusing the pastor of "a horrendous abuse of power" and a defense lawyer calling the charges uncorroborated.
While never convicted of child molestation, Brown had been charged with sex offenses against teenagers twice before. He pleaded guilty to child endangerment in New York in 1997.
In the ongoing trial, prosecutors brought to the stand Brown's New York victim, who testified he was sexually assaulted by Brown in 1997.
Two other teens also called as witnesses claimed they were molested by the minister in DeKalb County in 2000. Brown never was indicted in those two cases because prosecutors said the two accusers were 16 and, therefore, of consensual age when the incidents reportedly took place.
On March 29, before his arrest on the most recent charges, Brown apparently attempted suicide with an overdose of pain medication. Lawyers on both sides attempted to use the incident as evidence of Brown's guilt or innocence. Adams said Brown was distraught over "false allegations" that would end his ministerial career.
Adams argued that police failed to fully investigate the most recent allegations before arresting Brown.
But DeKalb prosecutor Rachelle Carnesale countered that for Brown to be not guilty, he would have to be a victim of a vast conspiracy involving several accusers who don't know each other, as well as law enforcement authorities in DeKalb County and New York.
She described Brown as a "predator leaving in his wake destroyed lives."