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Underage sex trial date set for former Mahwah minister

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

EXCLUSIVE (ONLY ON CVP) : A former Mahwah minister serving an eight-year prison sentence for having sex with an underaged member of his congregation will be retried next month in connection with another alleged assault on a teenaged congregant.

A Feb. 19 date was quickly and quietly set yesterday for 47-year-old Curtis Franklin as his daughter sat crying in the Hackensack courtroom.

Franklin’s first case, in 2011, ended in a mistrial after a juror not only researched its history online — in volations of court rules — but then shared the findings with fellow jurors through printouts.

In that trial, a 21-year-old woman reported that Franklin engaged in “inappropriate sexual contact” with her at a Mahwah residence at least three times when she was only 15.

A father of two who was a reverend at the Mahwah Full Gospel Church, Franklin was later convicted of having intercourse with another girl — also beginning when she was 15 — and continuing for four years.

Prosecutors charged him after that teen went to authorities two days after police arrested Franklin the first time. She told them their liasons involved him sneaking into her house at night while her parents were sleeping.

Franklin, who is married, was 22 years older than her.

He argued during the three-week trial that the relationship began after she turned 16 — the age of consent in New Jersey. Franklin also contended that his accuser’s mother, who worked at the church, had fought with him over finances.

Jurors in Hackensack returned a guilty verdict after two days of deliberation, however.

He was sentenced in November and a short time later began serving his term at the state Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel.

Franklin already is facing lifetime parole as a registered Megan’s Law offender when he eventually is released from prison for the second-degree sexual assault conviction.

However, attorney Benjamin Morton told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Franklin is appealing the verdict on the grounds that certain mitigating evidence wasn’t allowed during the trial.

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