Youth Pastor Sentenced For Assaulting Teenage Girl

By Maggie Vespa

June 24, 2011 Updated Jun 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM CDT

A former youth pastor of a small Central Illinois town was sentenced to four years in prison Friday for sexually assaulting a now 15-year-old girl in 2009 who attended his church.

The sentencing came in a courtroom packed with community members who say he is innocent.

37-year old Jason Phillips, an associate pastor at Covenent Community Fellowship Church in Canton was convicted of criminal sexual assault in April.

Friday his attorney Kevin Sullivan asked Fulton County judge William Davis first for an acquittal, then for a re-trial.

Sullivan called multiple witnesses, including 17-year old Christopher spawn.

He testified the victim told him last year, she made up the charges because she was mad at Phillips.

Sullivan says Spawn and others like him came forward after Phillips was convicted, and he believes there are more.

"All we're asking them to do is come forward and tell the truth. We're not asking them to get involved. We're not asking them to do anything improper, but several of them are prohibited in doing so by their parents," he said.

After hearing the testimony, Judge Davis denied the motion for and imposed the minimum sentence- 4 years in prison and 3 years mandatory supervision after his release.

Sullivan says Phillips does plan to appeal his conviction.

He has 30 days to do so.

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