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Pastor, 76, Sentenced to 20 Years for Sexual Battery

William Randall served 30 years as the pastor of St. Simon Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida. Now 76, he was sentenced last week to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual battery last month.

Randall was arrested in 2018 and charged with four felonies related to the ongoing sexual abuse of children aged 12-18. He had long maintained his innocence, but he changed his strategy and pled guilty to one of the charges, hoping prosecutors would drop the other three charges.

But prosecutors didn’t offer him a chance to negotiate his sentence. While sentencing guidelines on the one charge called for nine years of imprisonment, one victim called Randall a “devil in disguise” and urged the court to impose a life sentence.

A month before Randall decided to plead guilty, St. Simon Baptist Church burned to the ground. Investigators suspect arson at the church, which was undergoing renovations at the time.

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Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.

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