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Ruckus follows conviction of Mahwah minister for having sex with underage congregant

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Supporters of a Mahwah minister convicted in Hackensack this morning of having sex with an underage congregant beginning when she was 12 had to be removed from the Bergen County Courthouse by sheriff’s officers after they began shouting in the hallway outside the courtroom.

Curtis Franklin’s wife, Lora, emerged from the courtroom in tears after the verdict was read and her husband was taken away by Bergen County Sheriff’s officers.

However, other supporters began yelling.

“This is a courtroom. This is a public building,” a Bergen County Sheriff’s officer said to them. “If you don’t maintain order, you have to leave.”

They then began to disperse.

Franklin, on the other hand, was subdued — covering his eyes with his hand, his head bowed, as the jury forewoman read the verdict.

“He took it pretty well,” defense attorney Benjamin Morton told CLIFFVIEW PILOT later.

The 46-year-old assistant pastor at the Mahwah Full Gospel Church already is serving time eight-year prison sentence at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel for sexually abusing the woman’s youngster sister, who also was underage. He faces lifetime parole as a registered Megan’s Law offender if he eventually is released from state custody.

A previous prosecution in the same case ended in a mistrial, leading to a retrial that ended with today’s verdict.

Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian set sentencing for July 12.

Morton called the case “a garden-variety ‘he-said / she-said’ case.”

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kenneth Ralph outlined a long-term relationship “conducted in secret” in several places over four years, beginning when the girl was 12.

The woman, now 29, told jurors  she “thought that it was love, something special between us,” then later felt like a sinner.

The encounters occurred in Franklin’s tow truck, the bedroom of his house after his wife left early for work, her bedroom, in parking lots, on secluded roads, and in Oregon when she saved money from her summer job working for Franklin’s father-in-law at Speedway 17 in Mahwah and went to visit him and his family for six weeks — when she was 14 — she said.

STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

RELATED:

  • ONLY ON CVP: A woman who said she had sex with a former Mahwah minister for four years beginning when she was 12 told jurors she “thought was it was love, something special between us,” then later felt like a sinner. READ MORE….

  • CVP EXCLUSIVE: A defense attorney for Mahwah youth pastor Curtis Franklin today called his trial on charges of having sex with an underage congregant “a garden-variety ‘he-said / she-said’ case.” However, an assistant Bergen County prosecutor outlined a long-term relationship “conducted in secret” in several places over four years, beginning when the girl was 12. READ MORE….

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