ST. GEORGE, S.C. (WCIV) –The former pastor accused of kidnapping and raping several women pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping during the second day of the trial.
Dale Richardson was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading to three charges of kidnapping and three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The sentences for each of the crimes will run concurrently.
The charges come from three separate incidents in 2010 and 2011.
Dale Richardson sat quiet with a blank stare through most of his trial, until his team announced he'd take the plea deal.
"I'd like to apologize for my actions and the pain and suffering I've caused," he said.
Richardson wiped tears from his eyes, but nothing could erase the memories for the three victims. The state said it agreed to a 20-year sentence so they could begin to heal.
"Really when they have to take the stand and testify they're being re-victimized so you have to weigh all that," assistant solicitor Glenn Justis said. "We came to that agreement together that would be the best for everyone."
Richardson's attorney Andy Savage said he thought they could win until the judge ruled evidence from two other rapes could be used in this trial.
"In proving the credibility issues this victim had, I think we were doing well. But the legal issues; it was like a tidal wave," Savage said.
Savage also said the acts started as consensual, but changed to someone non-consensual at some point.
In the end, the judge delivered the strongest words in admonishing Richardson.
"No one deserves to be bound, threatened with a gun and raped," she said. "You took advantage of them in the most horrible type of way. When one of your victims was praying to god to save her life, you said, 'God doesn't help people like you.'"
She told Richardson she hoped he could truly find God and turn it around.
The day began very differently than it ended; defense attorneys objected to a replacement expert from the State Law Enforcement Division because the agent who analyzed the evidence is currently on maternity leave.
The judge said because of the defense's trial argument, a replacement expert would be allowed.
Attorneys also fought over victims' statements given to medical personnel at Medical University Hospital after the alleged attacks. The judge said he would allow the testimony, but the statements would not be admitted into evidence.
The alleged victim in the case took the stand one last time for redirect questioning. She said they spent 15 minutes in the trailer while Richardson raped her, then was excused.
A Verizon Wireless employee who analyzes phone calls took the stand Tuesday to discuss Dale Richardson's cell phone records. According to her, the phone Richardson used was in his wife's name, and on the night in question, five calls from the same number were made to Richardson's phone.
Each cell tower has a range of about three to five miles, she said, to which defense attorney Andy Savage said analysts should also be able to tell in which city the call was made.
The Verizon employee said she was only asked to pull call data for Richardson's number.
In response, Savage submitted a different set of phone records for the Verizon employee to examine in an attempt to prove that there was prior communication between Richardson and the victim.
The records from the prepaid phone indicated the two phones exchanged text messages. The text messages coordinated a meeting on the morning before the rape allegedly happened.
Prosecutors said that in the incident Richardson was being tried for Wednesday, the victim may have communicated about a meet up, but hadn't planned to be picked up and taken for a ride.
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