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Ex-youth minister paid victim

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Woman accepts $7,500 to sign off on probation deal for Lunceford

By BEN CARLSON

A former youth minister agreed to pay a woman he admitted victimizing as a youngster as part of deal that helped him be placed on probation.
Gordon Lunceford, 46, agreed to pay the victim $7,500 as part of a sentencing agreement, his attorney, Guthrie True of Frankfort, said Monday afternoon.
Lunceford, a former youth minister at First Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, pleaded guilty to unlawful transaction with a minor and sexual misconduct and was given five years probation last Tuesday morning in Circuit Court.
Lunceford was originally charged last summer with multiple counts of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse for allegations stemming from 1992, when he served as youth minister at First Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg.
According to court documents, one victim was under the age of 16 and another was under 14. Only one victim came forward at the sentencing, and a second victim was not mentioned.
While considering Lunceford’s sentencing last Tuesday morning, Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman asked the victim if she agreed with a sentence of five years probation, and if she worked with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to arrive at that recommendation.
She said she did.
The financial restitution was not mentioned specifically at the sentencing, and the information was not available as of Monday morning at the Circuit Clerk’s office in Lawrenceburg.
True, Lunceford’s attorney, said Lunceford paid the victim $5,000 when he entered his guilty plea, and has 12 months to pay an additional $2,500.
True said the amount is not considered damages. Instead it’s to cover the costs the victim has incurred.
“It is what it says it is, restitution,” True said. “It’s for past and future counseling costs.”
During last week’s sentencing, the victim spoke out, saying what Lunceford did was wrong and that she has been in therapy since that time. She said she has suffered from depression and “suicidal thoughts.”
True said the victim and Commonwealth’s Attorney office were active in coming up with the probation sentence for Lunceford.
“We had a day of mediation, where we had a retired judge assisting us, and another day of plea negotiations with Mr. Lunceford, [Commonwealth’s Attorney] Laura Donnell and the complaining witness all present,” True said.
Donnell’s office did not return phone calls Monday.
Were it not for the victim accepting the sentencing arrangement, True said Lunceford would not have pleaded guilty to the charges and a trial would have unfolded.
“This is an 18-year-old case,” he said. “These are charges the lady came forward with 17 years after the fact, which is significant and without a doubt played a role.
“If this case went forward, at some point there would have been a significant motion to dismiss these charges.”

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.