A Georgia pastor and married father-of-ten has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for molesting two teenage members of his church congregation.
On Tuesday, a judge handed down a life sentence to 57-year-old Kenneth Adkins weeks after a jury convicted him on eight criminal counts, including aggravated child molestation, after just one hour of deliberating, reports the Mail Online.
Prosecutors said Adkins, pastor of the Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, pressured two teenagers - a boy and girl, both 15 - to have sex while he watched in his church office back in 2009. They accused him of "grooming" the teens and giving them gifts to achieve this end.
The male victim, now 22, said that Adkins, who has a previous criminal history due to drug convictions, had become a "father figure" to him after his grandfather died, but that the relationship turned sexual in 2010. The self-proclaimed "pastor" began sending the teen inappropriate pictures and texts and showering him with gifts, the victim said.
Eventually Adkins told the teen that he wanted to watch him have sex with his girlfriend, to "make sure he was doing it properly". The victim told the court he'd "lost count" of the times the three had been involved in sexual situations in the church office, in Adkins' car, and at the beach.
Adkins insisted he's innocent and told the judge at his sentencing hearing: "Most certainly I did not do the things I am accused of."
"If it's God's will that I spend the rest of my life in prison, then I have no choice but to accept that. I don't believe it is. I did not do it, and I'm going to fight until I have a last breath to gain my freedom once again," he added.
His wife, Charlotte Adkins, also maintained her husband's innocence and claimed they had both mentored the teen, according to jacksonville.com.
"This young man was part of our teen ministry," she said. "Ken and I have treated him like family, as has our church. He is a deeply troubled young man, to be sure, but our thoughts and prayers remain with him even now."
Jacksonville.com reports that prior to entering the ministry, Adkins spent many years in Jacksonville as a public relations and political consultant after reinventing himself following a prison stint on drug charges. He national headlines when he said homosexuals got "what they deserve" after Islamic extremist Omar Mateen massacred 49 people at a Florida gay club last year.
"Dear Gays, Go sit down somewhere,' he tweeted on June 13, the day after 49 people were killed and many more injured. "I know y'all want some special attention. Yall are sinners who need Jesus. This was an attack on America.'"
He later tweeted: "been through so much with these Jacksonville homosexuals that I don't see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!"