Youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting teen girl could take plea deal, avoid jail time

Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-06 16:51:43-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. — A former Grandville youth pastor facing sex charges involving a minor could wind up avoiding jail time.

Jeremiah Behrens, 34, appeared in 59th District Court in Grandville Monday where he waived his right to a preliminary exam. He was also offered an opportunity to plead guilty to one of the criminal sexual conduct charges against him.

Behrens faces one second degree and one fourth degree criminal sexual conduct charge. The second degree charge is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The plea deal would involve a guilty plea for the second degree charge in exchange for a judge dismissing the fourth degree charge and dropping possible prison time.

“The plea deal with remain available through the status conference so the decision will be made between now and that time and the future proceedings in the case but beyond that it wouldn’t be prudent to make any further statement at this time,” said David Dodge, Behren’s defense attorney.

Grandville police said a teen girl who attends the church recently reported multiple incidents of inappropriate contact with Behrens stemming back to 2013.

A court affidavit obtained by FOX 17 details Behren's relationship with the young victim.

A court affidavit obtained by FOX 17 details Behren’s relationship with the young victim.

A probable cause court document obtained by FOX 17 shows the victim reported two separate incidents to police.  The victim reported that in January 2013 while she and Behrens were alone at the church, Behrens “touched her chest just above her breast on top of the clothing.”

The second incident reported is said to have happened in May of 2013 when the same victim alleges Behrens “approached and touched her in the church’s kitchenette area and then went onto to reach under her shirt and touch her breasts.”

In an email detailed in the probable cause document, said to have been exchanged between Behrens and the vicitm, Behrens wrote “we had gotten too close and some inappropriate things happened.” He also said he had met the victim at a school three or four times to talk.

Police say Behrens coerced the victim by ‘exerting his authoritative position.’

Behrens remains free on bond as the case now heads over to the Kent County Circuit Court.