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Courts & Trials

Pa. Pastor Sentenced for Impregnating Teen Who Attended His Church: ‘She Admired Me and Trusted Me’

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Jacob Malone
Courtesy West Whiteland Township Police Dept.

A married Pennsylvania pastor who sexually assaulted and impregnated a teenage girl he had taken into his home was sentenced to three to six years in prison on Friday, a Chester County prosecutor confirms to PEOPLE.

Jacob Malone, 35, was serving as the victim’s guardian at the time of the assaults, which began in the fall of 2014 and lasted about a year, Chester County Assistant District Attorney Emily Provencher tells PEOPLE.

He was sentenced after pleading guilty to institutional sex assault, corruption of minors and endangerment the welfare of children, Provencher says. The latter charge stemmed from the fact that he gave alcohol to the victim, says Provencher.

Malone — the father of the victim’s daughter, who born in 2016 — will serve five months’ probation upon his release and have to register as a sex offender for 15 years, says Provencher.

During her victim impact statement on March 29, the victim said Malone had taken advantage of her “mentally, physically [and] spiritually,” Provencher confirms.

The judge also reportedly addressed Malone, saying, “This is one of the times when the court system fails. You are serving a sentence much lighter than the crime deserves,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to ABC News, Malone said his “failures and weaknesses” had hurt the victim and both his and her families.

“She admired me and trusted me, and I betrayed that,” he said, ABC reports.

He initially met the victim when she was 12 years old, at a church in Mesa, Arizona, Provencher says. The sex assaults began in 2014, when Malone was working at Calvary Fellowship in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Malone had begun making sexual advances on the victim earlier in 2014 after inviting her to stay with his family in Minnesota, where he worked at the time, Provencher says, calling it “grooming behavior.” The victim was then 17 years old.

That fall, Malone and his family moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Malone invited the victim to live with him and began sexually assaulting her, Provencher says. During this period, the victim also attended Calvary Fellowship.

“The defendant took complete advantage of this girl,” says Provencher. “She was dependent on him for her basic necessities. Throughout the whole process, the victim has shown tremendous strength, courage and maturity as she’s moving on with her life and raising her daughter.”

After he was accused, Malone resigned from his pastor position at Calvary. In a video posted online, he sat alongside his wife and said, “We’ve come up against some major personal issues for me and family, issues for us together that are really pretty heavy and difficult.”

The victim said Malone raped her and the sexual contact occurred daily, though Malone’s attorney, Evan Kelly, says Malone did not use physical force.

Under the plea agreement last week, prosecutors agreed to not include the rape charge against Malone. In April, a judge rejected an earlier plea agreement that Malone had made with prosecutors for a minimum of two years in prison, according to the Inquirer.

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While a warrant was out for his arrest, Malone traveled to Ecuador and was arrested at Newark Airport in January 2016, upon returning.

Kelly, Malone’s attorney, tells PEOPLE he is not allowed to have contact with the victim or the child he had with her for the duration of his sentence and possible parole.

He says Malone is still married and the couple is “not going through any divorce proceedings.”

When Malone gets out of prison, he’d “like to move back to Minnesota and help people, try to turn his life around and teach people how quickly you can fall,” Kelly says.