Franklin NJ Youth Minister’s sex crimes convictions upheld
The conviction of Hillsborough man accused of criminal sexual interference with teenage girl who was a member of his church’s youth group was confirmed by a state appeals court.
Shawn Butler, 55, is serving five years at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont after being sentenced in Middlesex County Superior Court in 2019. Butler will be eligible for parole on November 25.
Butler also had was convicted of breaking Megan’s law for participating in youth ministry at the Eternal Life Christian Center in Franklin where he served as a youth advisor, mentor and chaperone for children aged 12 to 17. Butler had been labeled as a Megan’s Law sex offender and banned from participating in youth-serving organizations following a conviction for sexual assault in 1990.
The victim, who was 15 at the time, joined Butler’s youth group in January 2014, according to court documents, and he asked her to babysit at his then home in southern Brunswick.
During her second childcare, according to court documents, Butler led the victim to a spare bedroom, told her he had received visions from God indicating that she was “in pain” and that he could help her “to be happy” and to “draw near to God”. “if they reconstituted his” visions “.
Butler would then lie on top of her and, according to his testimony in court, “perform movements that (were) essentially him sleeping with me in our clothes on.”
The victim said she believed he cared for her, so she trusted him when he said engaging in this conduct would bring her closer to God, according to court documents.
This has happened six times at his home and once at her home. After the victim told a friend of his mother what had happened. she and her mother attended the South Brunswick Police Department in July 2014 and he was arrested the following month.
Appeals court rejected Butler’s argument that his conviction should be overturned because he was denied the opportunity to attack the victim’s credibility during the trial by asking about his ex-boyfriend .
Butler also argued that the trial judge should have declared the trial canceled after the prosecutor inadvertently played a redacted recording of a phone call between him and the victim, implying he was the subject investigation for conduct with another possible victim.
Butler also argued that the judge miscalculated his sentence.
But the appeals court rejected these arguments.
The victim and another teenage girl filed civil lawsuits against Butler and the church.
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Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to her articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please register or activate your digital account today.