YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A judge has convicted a pastor of raping a young woman while she was living at a shelter at his church.
Fifty-nine-year-old Ronald Lee Pyles was the pastor at Victory Harvest Ministry on Palmyra Road in North Jackson.
Pyles was convicted of one count of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition. He hasd faced two counts of each.
Pyles waived his right to a jury trial and the case was heard by Judge James Evans.
The prosecution says the crimes took place at the church between October of 2010 and March of 2011.
The young woman was the first to take the stand, however she declined to be videotaped or recorded.
She testified that on more than one occasion Pyles had touched her inappropriately and performed sexual acts on her.
Other witnesses included the woman’s case workers from the mental retardation agency and children’s services.
“I think that she was very ashamed of things that had happened. This was a man that she really admired, this was a man that she looked to as a father figure,” one case worker testified.
A therapist, who also worked with the young woman, supported the prosecution’s contention that she trusted Pyles and didn’t want to cause trouble for him and the church.
“And I think she wanted to protect people she thought were protecting her,” the therapist said.
The prosecution called a total of six witnesses before resting its case. The main witness for the defense was Pastor Pyles himself.
“Based on the testimony I’ve heard here today, I need to testify about the truth as far as I’m concerned,” Pyles told the judge.
Pyles could receive up to 15 years in prison.