A Baptist pastor and former college president accused of “grooming” and sexually abusing a teenager over a decade ago as a pastor in Maryland has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to lesser charges in December.
Cameron Shane Giovanelli, a married father of three, was sentenced Monday by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert Cahill Jr., according to The Baltimore Sun. In addition to 90 days in jail, Giovanelli will have to serve five years of supervised probation.
Now residing in Florida, Giovanelli gave himself over to Baltimore County authorities in August 2019 to face allegations lodged against him by a former student he knew during his time as pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk.
It was alleged that Giovanelli manipulated the student and engaged in inappropriate contact with her multiple times between January 2007 and August 2007. At the time, the student was 17, and Giovanelli was 29.
Although Giovanelli initially denied the allegations, he pleaded guilty in December to fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault charges as part of a plea bargain that resulted in the dropping of sexual abuse of a minor charge.
The accuser, Sarah Jackson, said she attended the church’s school and also baby-sat for Giovanelli’s family.
According to prosecutors, Giovanelli is accused of using his position as a church pastor to pressure Jackson into a relationship that involved months of kissing, touching and oral sex.
Jackson told the courtroom that it was “not a one-time abuse.”
“This was months of daily, calculated decisions by my pastor, teacher and boss,” she said. “This was a man whom I was being raised to trust. A man who was supposed to be our godly leader and council. A man that was supposed to protect me as a child when left in his care. Not teach sexual acts.”
She even alleged that Giovanelli opened a phone line for her on the church’s phone plan to avoid her parents seeing how much the two were communicating.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith