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Defrocked Episcopal Priest Receives 2 Life Sentences For Child Rape In Tampa

Jul 17, 2003 | AP

A defrocked Episcopal priest already serving 30 years in prison for sexually abusing boys he met at church in the 1970s has received two more lengthy sentences.

Richard Arthur Pollard, 74, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of raping a child younger than 12, and Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold sentenced him to two life sentences that carry minimum mandatory terms of 25 years in prison without parole.

Although child rape currently carries a mandatory life term without parole, Pollard was sentenced under rules in effect three decades ago, Assistant State Attorney Robin Augello said.

At the request of defense attorney Charles Scruggs, the judge ordered Pollard's sentences run concurrently with the 30-year prison term he received in March. The judge noted that at Pollard's age, the prison terms are ``tantamount to a life sentence.''

Pollard was arrested last August and charged with eight counts of capital sexual battery involving assaults on one boy between 1970 and 1976.

The victim, John Benton, was allowed to address Pollard in court Tuesday.

``Mr. Pollard sentenced me to life in prison when I was just a 6-year-old, a prison made of silence, shame and fear,'' Benton said. ``You stripped me of my youth, you stole my innocence, you destroyed my spirituality. Today I am finally through with you. Today I stand tall.''

A ninth charge was added against Pollard in September after another victim came forward.

The offenses occurred at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Tampa, where Pollard served from 1969 to 1974; at All Saints Episcopal in Tarpon Springs, where he served from 1974 to 1992; and at Pollard's home, police said.

Pollard retired from All Saints Episcopal Church in 1992.

Benton first reported the abuse to church authorities in 1995, and Pollard subsequently paid for Benton's counseling. Benton said he pressed for criminal charges last year after learning Pollard had access to another young boy.

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