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Saturday, April 19, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Youth pastor convicted for soliciting sex from a minor

The jury in the Troy Deal online predator case began to hear the words on Wednesday.

For several hours, Calhoun County Circuit Court jurors heard explicit testimony from transcripts which prosecutors allege were from conversations between Deal, 35, of Battle Creek, and people he believed were 14-year-old girls.

The girls were actually undercover officers from the Office of the Michigan Attorney General and the Wayne County Sheriff Department.

Over several months before he was arrested in July, Deal allegedly used his computer to suggest performing various acts with the young girls, including threesome sex, bondage and submission.

"I like a slut to do what she is told and like doing it," Deal wrote on April 10, 2007, according to James May, an agent for the AG's office. "Do you like being collared. You will be my submissive slut. I will just call you slut until you earn another name."

Deal, at the time of his July arrest, was the director of youth ministries at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Battle Creek. He is charged with 11 counts of using a computer to solicit a child for sexually abusive activity, distributing sexually abusive material and communicating with a child for immoral purposes. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison.

May and two other investigators corresponded for months with someone who used the computer identification CZAR401.

May, the first witness called in the prosecution case, testified he followed records from Yahoo and Comcast and determined Deal was chatting on a laptop computer at the church. May also testified he found on Deal's computer the non-pornographic pictures of young girls the officers had used as part of their personas and sent to CZAR401.

Testimony, including cross examination of May by Defense Attorney Susan Mladenoff, continues today before Circuit Judge Stephen Miller.

Assistant AG Kelly Carter told the jury in her opening statement that Deal solicited the undercover agents, thinking they were young girls, for sexual acts.

"It was the nature of the communication that gives rise to the criminal case," Carter said.

But Mladenoff told the jurors "you cannot punish the words alone. He was not looking for younger girls and had no interest to do anything with underage minors."

In the transcripts read by May, Deal describes several types of sexual acts he wanted to perform.

"I want to see a pic(ture) of you," he wrote. "I want to have my way with you," suggesting in other messages that they have intercourse, and oral and anal sex.

"I would love for you to bring a friend," he wrote later. "Would you like to try another girl?"

May said after Deal was arrested, he admitted he wrote the chats but never tried to meet one of the girls.

"I am not that stupid," he told May.