Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Former prison chaplain pleads guilty to sexual assault, to get 5 years

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce of Newport announced today that Kenneth Dewitt, 67, of Patterson, a former chaplain at the McPherson women's prison in Newport, has pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree sexual assault and will receive  concurrent 10-year prison sentences, with five years suspended, on each count.

Dewitt resigned as a chaplain in September 2014 after admitting "an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate [another chaplain]," Boyce said. A subsequent State Police investigation led to charges related to three inmates with whom he'd had sex. 

Boyce said, “After substantial preparation for trial in this case I am pleased that Mr. Dewitt has admitted his guilt and is willing to accept prison time as a result. Any time an employee of a correctional facility, not to mention a member of the clergy, takes advantage of his position of trust and authority to procure sexual favors the judicial system should exact punishment for that transgression.”
Dewitt initially faced 50 counts. From our earlier report:

In a statement of facts giving reasonable cause for the arrest, Boyce's office said the Correction Department had provided information that Dewitt had had sex with three inmates. This was after he was fired for having an open relationship with a parolee. It is a crime both for a Correction Department employee and for clergy, or other people in positions of trust, to use those positions to have sex with people under their control or trust.

The statement said a female inmate had gone to Dewitt's religious program in February 2008, became a student and stayed as a clerk. In 2010 or 2011, she said he kissed her and it shocked her, but it lead to more intimate contact. He started calling her at 6 a.m. on Sundays for sexual activity including oral sex and sexual intercourse. She said she knew other women he'd call on different days.

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