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DECATUR — A former Decatur pastor who described sexual assaults of a girl in his former congregation as a “small error” was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday.

Jose L. Aboytes will have to serve the sentence at 85 percent before he is eligible for parole, which means the 60-year-old defendant will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. He had pleaded guilty to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13. Prosecutors have said the assaults took place between September 2015 and September 2016 while he was serving Palabra Miel Hispanic Church.

Aboytes had originally pleaded not guilty to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault at a jury trial that got underway April 23. But on the second day of the trial, Aboytes accepted a plea deal to admit to the single charge, and the others were dropped.

Speaking before a Macon County Circuit Court sentencing hearing Thursday packed with family and friends of both the victim and Aboytes, the defendant read out a statement in Spanish. He said he was a man of imperfections but had also suffered much. “I have lost many things: I lost my home and I lost my wife for a small error, a mistake.”

Earlier, the victim and her parents had spoken of the trauma and heartbreak Aboytes' multiple assaults had caused. The child, in tears, told Judge Phoebe Bowers: “I don’t want anyone to feel how I feel, because it hurts so much.”

Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Kate Kurtz, who had asked for a 50-year sentence, said Aboytes deserved no pity. Describing him as the worst kind of sexual predator, she said he abused a pastor’s trusted status and could easily offend again.

“‘A small error’... that’s what he calls a Class X predatory criminal sexual assault ... ” said Kurtz.

Defending, Todd Ringel said he “about swallowed my tongue” when he heard Aboytes use the “small error” phrase. But Ringel told the judge that was part of Aboytes' problem, that he lacked empathy for what he had done and was in need of mental health treatment rather an extended prison sentence.

“We do have a mental illness here and locking him up for 50 years is going to do nothing to address that,” added Ringel.

Passing the sentence, Bowers also made mention of Aboytes' lack of remorse, and said a “lengthy prison sentence was necessary” as a deterrent.


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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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