APOPKA, FL. – A minister who molested third-graders at his church school couldn’t promise that he wouldn’t molest again, and so was

sentenced to prison for 7 years and 4 months, followed by 10 years of probation. The judge acknowledged the remorse of David Joe Rich, 55, and that he took responsibility for his crimes, but said she wanted to ensure he would not harm anyone again.

Rich, former pastor of Springs Community Baptist Church, pleaded guilty to molesting 2 girls and trying to molest a third during the 1995-96 school year.

He fondled the girls, ages 8 and 9, at his desk while other students were in the classroom, said the prosecutor. The desk concealed the probing.

Rich apologized and made no excuses for his conduct but could not explain it.With God’s help and counseling, he said, he hoped never to molest again.

But he said he would be foolish to make a “100 percent” guarantee. He had resigned when confronted about the abuse 2 years after it ended.

While on probation, Rich must get counseling. He cannot be alone with children younger than 18 or live near a school or other place where childrenvisit. The judge told Rich he should bring his ministry to prison. “There are people in prison who could use your services,” she said.


Orlando Sentinel, 12/4/1998

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