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Saturday, February 11, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Bail set for pastor in abuse case

A Long Island pastor accused of repeatedly sexually abusing his three teenage daughters at their Queens home was held on $10,000 bail set Friday in Queens Criminal Court, authorities said.

Before Judge Alex J. Zigman, the pastor pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and four counts of incest.

The pastor, 53, whose name has been withheld by Newsday to protect his daughters' identities, faces up to 4 years in prison if convicted.

His attorney, Sean McNichols, of Kew Gardens, said his client's family described the pastor as a "loving, caring father" and said they "entirely support him 100 percent." McNichols said the family was gathering bail money.

According to the Queens district attorney's office, the pastor had sex with his eldest daughter, now 19, about twice a week between July 2001 and last month. He sexually abused his two other daughters, at the time both were younger than 14, at least 17 times between September 2004 and last June, the office said.

The pastor was arrested and charged Thursday after his eldest daughter confided in a cousin and word finally reached the girl's mother. No one at the Nassau County church, which is affiliated with the American Baptist Church USA, could be reached Friday. The accused has been a pastor there since 1988. "This whole thing is devastating," said the Rev. James Stalling of the New York chapter of the American Baptist Church USA. "Everyone ... is in our prayers."

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