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7/29/2005                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor convicted in abuse

By ANDREW TILGHMAN
Houston Chronicle


Some followers collapse and wail after their pastor found guilty in '94 sex abuse of teen

Several members of a small Pentecostal church in Aldine collapsed on a Harris County courthouse floor and wailed unintelligible prayers Thursday after their longtime pastor was convicted of sexually abusing a teenage girl more than 10 years ago.

The Rev. Curtis Bass of the International Pentecostal Church was sentenced to 10 years in prison on two charges of indecency with a child. A woman, now 26, testified that he touched her breasts and vagina on two occasions when she was 16 years old in 1994.

"God is still in control," Bass, 53, said to dozens of church members seated in the courtroom after his sentencing. He took off his silver wristwatch before court bailiffs took him away.

Defense witnesses said the former construction worker who went to theology school in Jackson, Miss., was a longtime youth minister known for encouraging teens to participate in the church, which has about 100 members.

"It's sickening, from someone who supposedly does the Lord's work," Assistant District Attorney Robert Freyer told jurors Thursday.

At least three women have lodged sexual abuse complaints against Bass, said deputy investigator Russell Ackley of the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

In one of those complaints, charges were dropped in 2000 when a grand jury found insufficient evidence to believe a crime occurred. No charges were filed in another case, but jurors heard about the allegations this week.

"He has a weakness. He's just like you and I. We all have weaknesses," James McDonald, Bass' 76-year-old father-in-law, said during the trial's punishment phase.

Bass's attorney, Mark Troy of Dallas, pleaded with jurors to spare the married father of two a prison sentence and limit his punishment to probation.

"Are you going to throw away his whole life? Or are you going to give him a chance to rebuild it?" Troy asked jurors.

Bass testified Wednesday and adamantly denied molesting the girl, but offered no reason for the repeated allegations .

"Can you make sense of why all these girls would go through this pain and humiliation with all these lawyers?" Freyer asked.

"No sir, I don't know," Bass said.

Bass's 23-year-old son, Dustin Bass, also testified during the punishment phase and asked the jury for leniency.

"He's been the kind of father I always hoped I could be," the son said as his eyes welled with tears.

Bass also cried during his son's testimony, as did several church members in the courtroom.

Bass's accuser contacted authorities last year after her cousin told family members about a similar allegation.

As the jury deliberated Friday morning, about 20 church members crowded in a courtroom hallway holding hands and saying prayers for Bass.

After the guilty verdict, a group of young men and women from Bass' church ran out of the courtroom and collapsed on the hallway floor, where they began shaking, shouting and crying loudly.

Court officials summoned several deputy constables who patrolled the hallway for the rest of the day and repeatedly told church members to refrain from loud emotional outbursts.

4 comments:

ANITA said...

I just stumbled accross this post. I am shocked but some of your ignorant comments. I followed the case very very carefully - in fact I knew some of the accused. PWT all the way. This man was completely rail roaded and fasley accused. They are after some heavy cash - and are all related. You really need to research before you start convicting people you don't even know. Words cut deep. There was absolutely no evidence and poorly given testimony - he took his chance on a trail by jury not judge. To the person who wanted to eat popcorn to watch the people kneel and pray - I will pray for you. To Mike who had the guts to write what he felt - I'll be seeing you in heaven! In his grip, Anita.

madamehel said...

He was foung guilty. You can go pray for yourself. We don't need or want it.

ANITA said...

I do pray for myself - and you need to speak for yourself...not others. Learn to exercise caution in the future when you judge people otherwise you could end up on the other side of the fence. Have a great life.

Anonymous said...

This posting is so old that my comment may never be seen. For the record - only two of the four girls were related and neither one of them nor any one in their family filed the CIVIL suit. Lynette Bass herself even confused the CRIMINAL proceedings with CIVIL proceedings while she was testifying during her husband’s CRIMINAL trial. The state filed the case in which Curtis Bass was found guilty. It was a different family who benefited from a civil suit which was filed much later. The two victims who were related to each other never wanted and never received any monetary gains from what happened - nor did they want to hurt the Bass family.

It was a task of protecting other young girls from being hurt as they had been hurt and nothing more. The Bass family was not the only family whose lives took a drastic turn when the news first came out. The Bass' still have their center of support, the victims and their family made it through by the grace of God with no support from people they believed were their beloved friends and other church members. They have since developed bonds with others and those that did not believe they could make it through did in fact make it. The ones who were members of Bass’ church are all still living for God. They all also believe that they are exactly where God wants them.

There was a lot of pain felt on the day the verdict was given. Bass has since bonded out on his appeal - not because he is innocent - do not mistaken or misinterpret the job of the Court of Appeals. They look at the judge of the underlying court and make their decisions based on how that judge ran the trial. The appeals process has absolutely nothing to do with guilt or innocence in this case.

We should never choose sides based on just half of the story. I was also skeptical until all the facts were laid in front of me. The Bass’ were at one time important people to me. One girl's story was finally heard and believed after 10 years. Another girl’s story was heard after being told that she didn’t have enough evidence to prove it was true. Yes, Curtis Bass was a pastor at one time and may still receive high regard in his organization, but never forget he is still human.