Questions about how Ohio authorities will handle a former traveling pastor designated a sex offender in Georgia continue to cloud resolution of the 2012 case.
Paul Jason Brothers, convicted of sexual battery of a 14-year-old girl in 2012 in Towns County, Ga., has to register as a sex offender through 2034 in Ohio, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“That would make things a lot better,” the victim’s mother said Friday, while indicating she had been advised otherwise by authorities in Georgia.
The conviction in Towns County, Ga., stems from a sexual encounter between Brothers, a traveling pastor who uses a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis, and the victim, who suffers from a congenital heart defect, at her home in Hiawassee, Ga., in October 2012, according to reports.
Brothers, now 40, registered as a Tier 1 sex offender on July 25 with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office in Lebanon, eight days after he was found guilty of two counts of sexual battery against a child under 16, sentenced to 10 years on probation and fined $1,000 in Towns County, Ga.
In the sentence, N. Stanley Gunter, chief judge of the Enotah Judicial District in Georgia, also designated Brothers a sex offender.
Because Brothers served six years on house arrest at his family’s Warren County home while the case was pending, his probation will end on Aug. 22, 2023, according to Stuart Stovall, chief probation officer in the Enotah Judicial District in southern Georgia.
Authorities in both states expressed uncertainty about how the sex offender registration portion of Brothers’ sentence, ordered in Georgia, would be carried out in Ohio.
On Friday, Steve Irwin, senior public information officer for the Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, said Brothers will have to continue reporting for 15 years and comply with other provisions of Ohio’s sex offender law, even after his probation runs in four years in Georgia.
“The registration date is independent from the probation,” Irwin said.
In addition, under Ohio law, Irwin said, Brothers’ registration requirement would be extended if he was “incarcerated” while subject to the requirement.
The victim’s mother expressed relief after learning about the AG’s interpretation of Brothers’ registration requirement.
“From the very beginning, I wanted him listed as a sex offender so that he wouldn’t be able to harm anyone else,” she said. “Our ultimate goal in this was that he would never be able to harm someone else the way he harmed my daughter.”
The mother expressed surprise, indicating she had been advised by authorities in Georgia that Brothers could apply to end the sex offender registration, once his probation term had been completed.
“Then he gets to return to his normal life,” she said, indicating her family felt the victim was too sick to make it through a trial seven years after the incident.
After the sentencing, Enotah District Attorney Jeff Langley expressed concerns about trying the case, noting the time passed and the effect this could have on witness memories.
Langley could not be reached for comment Friday.
Brothers was sentenced according to a plea bargain worked out between Langley and the defense lawyer, Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston.
Brothers was placed on house arrest after rape, statutory rape, aggravated child molestation, child molestation and simple assault charges were filed in 2013.
The case, pending through at least eight delays, was the last of four cases Ralston said he would close out before taking on any more clients charged with crimes, following an investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta.
“Our case was seven years old and never got to go to trial,” the victim’s mother said Friday.
By the time the allegations were made, Brothers had returned to his home in Massie Twp., Warren County.
In response to a request by Georgia authorities, two Warren County Sheriff’s Office detectives questioned Brothers, without a lawyer present, according to records obtained by this newspaper.
During a 90-minute interview, Brothers told the detectives he met the victim’s family through a local pastor who had been a seminary schoolmate in mission trips and visits to the area, sometimes to preach himself.
The interview transcript indicates Brothers eventually admitted to being sexually aroused and a “heavy elongated embrace” with the victim, but denied the alleged sex or assault.
“If what you want me to tell you is what happened, I’ve done that. Other than that I can’t tell you anymore,” Brothers said in concluding remarks.
Detective Brandi Carter was expected to testify in the trial, which never happened.
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