"Sweetheart" Plea Deal For Pastor Charged With Child Rape

A Bronx pastor has been accused of repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl for three years, and possibly sexually assaulting other children in his congregation. So why was he offered a plea deal that included just three years in prison?

Thankfully, Michael Clare refused the offer, but according to the New York Daily News, his lawyer then had the audacity to ask the judge to consider probation with no jail time. The judge snapped, "I would never do that," and pointed out that there is "almost irrefutable proof" that he committed the crime; The girl, who is now 15, became pregnant, and the DNA of the aborted fetus matches the pastor's.

Clare's lawyer said he rejected the plea deal because he's innocent, and now he's facing up to 25 years in prison if he's convicted of first-degree rape. Plus, since he'll be added to the sex offender registry, he won't be able to lead a congregation when he gets out.

A prosecutor said Clare was foolish to turn down the plea deal because, "This was a sweetheart offer considering the evidence against him ... It won't get any better from here." While we don't know all the details of the case, it seems like the bigger mistake was to offer him the deal in the first place. Had Clare accepted the offer, he could have been out of prison before his victim had even graduated high school.

Michael Clare, Bronx Pastor Charged With Raping, Impregnating 12-Year-Old Girl, Rejects Plea Deal [N.Y. Daily News]