Pastor accused of sexual abuse offered “felony mediation”
The criminal abuse case against former Glad Tidings Christian pastor, Marion Barnes, took an unexpected turn Dec. 9 – a date when several motions were scheduled to be heard before Meade County Circuit Court Judge Bruce T. Butler.
Barnes was indicted by a grand jury March 8, on 11 counts of sexual abuse against a minor – including seven counts of 1st degree sexual abuse, and four counts of indecent exposure in the 2nd degree.
The charges stemmed from allegations made by his niece, Alexandria Owens. Now 18, she was a minor living in his home at the time of the alleged abuse, which was said to have occurred on a regular basis beginning in October 2007.
Barnes’ lawyer, Alec Stone, had petitioned the court to hear at least eight motions last week including a change of venue request, a petition to examine the contents of Owen’s computer and diary and a motion to review her medical records, among others.
Instead, the newly-sworn-in Commonwealth’s Attorney, David Williams, agreed to “felony mediation” in the matter.
According to Judge Butler, felony mediation has never been used in Meade County before and this would be the first case.
“A mediator convenes a one-hour conference with the defendant, his attorney, and the prosecutor on a carefully selected case at the local courthouse. Mediators are senior status (retired) judges who are also trained and experienced in mediation and Kentucky criminal law,” according to the Kentucky court of justice department.
Due to the agreement for felony mediation, Judge Butler signed an order that remanded the previously scheduled Feb. 7 trial date for Barnes.
According to Williams, the idea of felony mediation in general was discussed with him by 46th circuit court judges shortly after he won the election.
Outside of the courtroom, Williams said that the victim in this specific case, Alexandria Owens, had not been contacted about felony mediation prior to the agreement.
“If I thought she was giving up any rights, of course I wouldn’t agree to this,” he said.
Owens could not be reached for comment.
During felony mediation, either side can reject the proposed disposition, and the criminal case would proceed to a normal trial. The presiding circuit judge must also approve the plea agreement.
First-degree sexual abuse is a Class D felony, punishable by at least one, but not more than five years inprisonment. Indecent exposure is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by 90 days to 12 months imprisonment.