A former youth minister from the north shore pleads guilty to sexual assault on a minor | Courts
A former youth program minister at First Baptist Church in Covington pleaded guilty in the 22nd Judicial District Court on Monday to felony second-degree battery and one misdemeanor count of sex battery, both stemming from the abuse of a girl who belonged to the church’s youth group in the early 2000s.
Darrell Jay English, 50, could have faced eight years in prison for a felony and six months for a misdemeanor, but under the terms of the plea deal he will not serve any jail time. He will have to register as a sex offender for five years.
Nicole Marshall, who agreed to be identified for this story, said she was 15 at the time and was dealing with separation from her parents when English began treating her under the guise of counseling. She said she was 16 when English began sexually abusing her at his home, where she often spent the night at the invitation of English and his wife, and at the church itself, including The sanctuary.
English was arrested in February 2021 and charged with seven counts of sexually assaulting a minor.
Marshall, now 36 and living in Utah, opted out of the courtroom on Monday. She says she feels relief but also disappointment that the Englishman can return to his normal life.
“That’s a pretty frustrating sentence; it’s pretty short for me,” Marshall said over the phone. “It’s a common problem with delayed reports. There’s not enough evidence to show when I was 16 versus 17 and 18.”
At the time of the abuse, 20 years ago, the age of consent in Louisiana was 17.
“I got to a point after almost two years of this process, I couldn’t fight the system anymore. It was beating me,” she said. “I ultimately chose to support the plea deal.”
In a victim impact statement, which was read aloud in court by Judge Alan Zaunbrecher, Marshall cited studies that indicated that 86% of child sexual abuse goes unreported and for those who report, a high percentage delay disclosure until adulthood.
Because English manipulated her to keep the abuse a secret to protect him, Marshall said, she did not document the abuse at the time.
She came forward after 20 years in part because she had “waking nightmares” that others might fall victim to, she said in the impact statement.
“There is no doubt that this man, Jay English, performed sexual acts on at least one minor – me,” his statement read.
Marshall’s parents, who were in court, expressed their anger in their victim impact statements, calling English a predator and a monster whose manipulation of their daughter damaged their relationship with her for years.
‘I trusted you’
The Englishman, dressed in a dark suit, sat quietly as the statements were read aloud. Asked for a statement following the proceedings, he walked without comment.
“I trusted you, as a leader of his youth and a Christian family man, to behave in a godly manner,” said his mother, Donna Drake. “Needless to say, you betrayed that trust to an unimaginable degree. Instead, you prepared it for your own selfish interests.”
His parents also lambasted the senior pastor of First Baptist Church for not removing English from his position when asked to do so.
“When Nikki’s mother and I became aware of the process of grooming this monster, we called a meeting with Waylon Bailey, the pastor of First Baptist Church, in Covington, where he still ministers today,” said said his father, Jeffrey Marshall, in his statement. . “He initially showed us reasonable concern and empathy, but in a later meeting it became clear that he was more interested in saving his ‘Crystal Palace Church’ than keeping our daughter safe. .”
Southern Baptist congregations operate autonomously and are not governed by a denominational hierarchy.
In a prepared statement on Monday, Bailey said: ‘We deeply regret the trauma Ms Marshall has suffered and the grief she and her family have experienced.
Bailey and Marshall’s parents said they met, but they differ on the period.
“They were deeply grieving parents who were hurting for their daughter,” Bailey said. “As I recall, by this time Mr. English was no longer at the church and Mrs. Marshall was an adult and living out of their home.”
Marshall’s parents said on Monday they had two meetings with Bailey, one of which included English, and they took place while their daughter was still in high school. She graduated in 2004.
Fight against sexual abuse
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with 47,000 affiliated congregations, has grappled with the issue of sexual abuse in recent years.
At its annual meeting in May, the convention voted to create a task force on implementing abuse reform and developing a website listing pastors, church workers, and ministers. others credibly accused of sexual misconduct. It also has a sexual abuse hotline.
The measures come following a third-party report, commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention, which was made public in May. The report, from Guidepost Solutions, found that victims of sexual abuse had encountered resistance and obstacles from leaders and that some abusers had been protected.