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Saturday, October 15, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor gets four years in prison for raping girl

By Journal Times staff

RACINE - The Rev. John A. Oatis was sentenced to four years in prison Friday for raping a 15-year-old girl at his church 11 years ago.

The victim said she went to Oatis for help in October 1994 at the Holy Jerusalem Church of God, formerly at 1330 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. He took her into the basement of the church and sexually assaulted her, according to the criminal complaint.

Police used DNA evidence to tie Oatis, 69, to the assault. He was convicted in August of second-degree sexual assault of a child.

Oatis insisted during his jury trial and at his sentencing that he was innocent.

"Reverend Oatis is not a victim of anything," said Judge Dennis Barry said at the sentencing hearing. "The victim is a 15-year-old girl who came to talk to her pastor ... and was sexually assaulted by a 58-year-old man of the cloth."

Since the crime was committed before the sentencing law changed in 1999, Oatis can petition for parole after serving 25 percent of his prison time and must be released after serving two-thirds of his term.

Barry said during the hearing that several people spoke and wrote on behalf of Oatis and the positive contributions he had made to the community. He added that perhaps he could help young people by ministering to them in prison.