Tuesday, February 14, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Church counselor pleads guilty to sex crimes with minors

A High Point North Carolina man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to having sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl.

Charles Douglas Parry, 36, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, 13 counts of first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree sex offense and one of felonious restraint.

Assistant District Attorney Randy Carroll said Parry began having sex with the girl in January 2005 while he was a counselor for the youth group at the church where she was a member.

Parry was making sexual comments to the girl six months before their liaison began during a youth group trip to Tennessee, Carroll said.

Parry's relationship with the girl was exposed in mid-July when he took her, without her parents permission, to Virginia. After a three-day search he was arrested and the girl returned to her family.

At first the girl denied having a sexual relationship with Parry because she felt close to him and was trying to protect him, Carroll said. But in August she admitted to having 74 sexual encounters with Parry.

Also, Carroll said police had tested DNA evidence that proves Parry had sex with the girl.

Carroll said he proposed a plea bargain because the girl's family wanted to spare her the emotional trauma of testifying.

Frances Browne, a friend whom the family had asked to be their spokeswoman, read a statement from the family explaining that they did not want her to testify because they felt she had been traumatized enough.

"She has been in counseling and will continue to need counseling for years," Browne said.

Parry's lawyer, J. Scott Coalter, argued that the girl was pressured into admitting to having a sexual relationship with his client.

Parry's wife, Melody, testified that the girl baby-sat for the couple's three children. She said she became the girl's confidant because the 12-year-old was having trouble with her parents.

Melody Parry said the girl called her and swore that nothing sexual had happened when another counselor from the church youth group accused the girl of having sex with her husband while in Tennessee.

Melody Parry said her husband took the girl to Virginia in July because the 12-year-old told them that the church's youth coordinator had called the Department of Social Services and was planning to take the couple's children.

Charles Parry's "trek to Virginia was just blind panic," Coalter said.

Melody Parry also used her knowledge as a nursing assistant to dispute the prosecution's DNA evidence.

Before Superior Court Judge Jim Webb sentenced her husband, Parry pleaded for leniency.

"He's the love of my life," she said. "He's the father of my children. He means the world to me."

The judge sentenced Charles Parry to a minimum of 18 years and a maximum of 22 years and four months in prison. Parry was also ordered to register with the state sexual offenders program and pay lawyer fees and court costs.

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