Baptist pastor convicted of molesting 5 girls in his Citrus Heights home
By Andy Furillo - Sacramento Bee
Dec. 9, 2011
The trial came down to the word of a Baptist preacher who castigated as liars the troubled little girls who called him a child molester.
In the end, after nearly four days of deliberations, a Sacramento Superior Court jury compared his testimony against theirs and came down clear and strong Thursday about who had credibility and who didn't.
On 11 of 12 counts, the jury said they believed the girls about what happened in the home of Tommy Gene Daniels. Now, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rio Linda is looking at spending 165 years to life in prison.
"Because of the complexity of the case, we had to make sure it wasn't collusion on the part of the girls," said an 81-year-old juror who gave his name as Roy. "A couple of them were sisters. We knew they did talk among themselves, and we had to decide, did they get together and try to make the stories all the same?
"We figured no," Roy said.
Daniels, 49, who was booked into the downtown jail exactly one year ago today for the sex crimes that took place six to eight years ago in his Citrus Heights home, sat impassively while the jury's guilty verdicts were read.
The mother of one of the victims wept softly when the jury came back with its decision on the first count. It involved her daughter – now 12, then 5.
The girl told jurors Daniels crept into the bedroom of his Wapiti Place residence where she slept, and twice touched her in her private areas. Her working parents had left the girl there in the baby-sitting care of Daniels' wife.
The mother of the girl declined to talk to reporters in the hallway outside court.
A few feet away, Daniels' wife, Brenda, sobbed in the arms of a supporter. She also declined an interview.
While the first victim had been placed in the house for day care, the other four were referred to in court as "respite kids." They all had been adopted, and all had behavioral issues, including a propensity to lie.
Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Macy said in her closing argument that Daniels played off the questions about their believability to target them as his molestation victims.
"I'm happy for the girls," Macy said in an interview after the verdicts.
Daniels' lawyer, Michael L. Chastaine, said he was "incredibly disappointed" by the verdict but that his client "took it like a man." He said he intends to appeal the decision.
The four girls all shared the same therapist, who recommended to their parents that the Daniels home might be a good place for their behaviorally challenged children. The girls testified that while they were in Daniels' home, he would force them to lie down on the floor and take their clothes off and that he would then touch them individually or have them do the same thing to themselves.
In his trial testimony, Daniels, who was 6-foot-3 and weighed 400 pounds at the time of the molestations, said he never did anything inappropriate with the girls.
The juror named Roy said as far as the panel was concerned, it was the word of the pastor that strayed from the truth, not that of the girls.
"How could somebody do something like that? You wouldn't think they could, especially a pastor," said Roy, a retired Navy man and a former Department of Defense employee.
"What's going on here? You've gotta be some type of – I don't want to say monster, but you're not a cool person. Young girls, 5, 6, 7 and 8-and-a-half? That's pretty bad."
The jury began its deliberations Dec. 1 and put in nearly four full days of work before coming back with the verdicts Thursday afternoon. Judge Trena H. Burger-Plavan scheduled Daniels' sentencing for Jan. 13. He faces 15 years to life in prison on each count.
The juror who agreed to discuss the case spoke from the driver's seat of his car as he prepared to take off from the courthouse. He said the discussions involved a minimal amount of acrimony early on, but that the panel reviewed the DVDs of the girls' statements to investigators as well as their trial testimony and eventually agreed on the guilty verdicts.
He said he is aware of the increased attention on child sexual abuse, especially with the high-profile scandal that has erupted at Penn State. He said the panel reached its decision with help from the expert testimony presented at trial, particularly about how molestation victims can wait years to report the crimes.
"You read about it across the country, but I've never been this close to the actual actions," Roy said. "I'm glad I got to (be on the jury) here, but I wouldn't want to have to do this again."
Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/09/4110943/baptist-pastor-convicted-of-molesting.html#ixzz1g3wFXkrg