According to USA Today sister newspaper the Knoxville News Sentinel, a former pastor who allegedly raped his adopted teenage daughter repeatedly has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, despite prosecutors seeking the maximum 72-year sentence.
David Lynn Richards Jr. insisted upon his innocence both throughout and after the trial and pleaded Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword for leniency.
The victim, Amber Richards, chose to identify herself. “I wanted to throw my body away,” she said in her victim impact statement last week. “"Not a day goes by that I don't, in some way, think of what he did to me. ... I firmly believe if given the opportunity, he would victimize another young girl."
Richards continued to maintain that the allegations were false and that his accuser was a rebellious teenager retaliating against his strict parenting. Even after forensic testing revealed seminal fluid on the teenager’s bed frame matching that of David Richards, he continued to deny the crimes.
"I stand before you convicted of crimes I did not commit," said David Richards, 41. "I simply believe the system just erred in this case.
"I'm not sure why I'm here. ... but I assume it's for His purpose."
The abuse lasted two years, beginning when Amber Richards was 14, before she reported him.
The judge acknowledged the longtime ministry of Richards and the support he continues to receive both during and after the trial as reasons for his relatively light sentence.
Richards appeared in court with a new attorney on Thursday, who reportedly hinted at his plan to seek a new hearing.