Former SB pastor sentenced to 29 years in prison

KIMBERLY EPLER
Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO —- A former Solana Beach pastor was sentenced Tuesday to 29 years in prison for molesting an 11-year-old boy during counseling sessions and trying to molest the child’s younger brother.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth So told Michael Skoor, 55, his actions were premeditated and amounted to a “significant betrayal of trust.”

“What happened was not an isolated incident,” So said. “It was not spur of the moment.”

The punishment was handed down after an emotional four-hour hearing that included statements from the boys’ mother, who said she will never forgive herself for not protecting her sons, and an apology from Skoor.

“I betrayed a sacred trust,” said Skoor, a Lutheran minister. “This is the church we’re talking about. (It’s as if) I offended against every child I ever worked with. I brought devastation to a congregation.”

The boys’ mother said Skoor deserved a harsh punishment.

“Mister Skoor sentenced my family to ‘life.’ He should receive nothing less,” she said.

Skoor’s friends and family members said that the defendant changed after he had brain surgery in 1993 and that he was deeply affected by counseling victims at the scene of the Columbine massacre six years later.

Skoor was visiting his sister in Littleton, Colo., when two students opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 fellow students and one teacher, before shooting themselves.

The defendant was so traumatized that he refused requests to counsel victims of the Santana and Granite Hills high school shootings in east San Diego, friends and family members said.

But prosecutor Jill Schall said “it is undisputed that Michael Skoor is a pedophile.”

“His attraction to young boys was so great he risked everything,” she said.

Under the terms of a plea bargain, Skoor had faced between 20 and 30 years in prison. The former Boy Scout troop leader pleaded guilty in August to 20 counts of committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 and four counts of attempted lewd acts.

Skoor, who formerly served as senior pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church, could have faced more than 100 years to life in prison if he had gone to trial and was convicted, the prosecutor said.

The plea bargain prevented the boys —- now 10 and 13 —- from having to testify.

This year, the older boy testified in court that Skoor began counseling him in late 1998 following his parents’ divorce. He said their relationship developed into a friendship during the counseling sessions and Skoor began telling him that he had a gift called “the sight” that allowed him to “see what people were feeling if something was wrong.”

Skoor admitted to molesting the older brother repeatedly between October 2000 and April 2001 in his home, a church office, the boy’s bedroom, in his car and on a camping trip.

Earlier in the day, Skoor’s defense attorney, William Nimmo, had asked for a delay in the sentencing so a brain scan could be done on his client, according to court testimony.

Thursday, October 03, 2002 @ 19:32:58 EDT