Crime

Tacoma church worker sentenced for molesting girl, 14, he met at youth group

A man who worked at a Tacoma middle school and volunteered with Youth for Christ there will spend a year in jail for inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl he met at church.

Adam Parks, who recently turned 21, pleaded guilty earlier this year in Pierce County Superior Court to two counts of third-degree child rape.

Judge Michael Schwartz sentenced him to a special sex offender sentencing alternative Thursday — a program that gives sex offenders a chance to serve at least part of their sentence out of custody, while completing a sexual-deviancy treatment program.

A defendant cannot have prior convictions of a felony sex offense to qualify, among other requirements. And if they have other trouble with the law, or fail to comply with treatment, they face having to serve their entire sentence in custody.

In Parks’ case, he has to serve a year at the Pierce County Jail, and then another year and 10 months of his sentence is suspended, as long as he finishes his treatment.

Defense attorney Michael Clark said that Parks admitted what he’d done early on, and was a textbook case for the sentencing alternative.

“He had some challenges growing up, but from everything I can tell, he’s a very kind and honest young man,” Clark said.

The victim’s mother wrote the court that the family had suffered emotionally from what Parks had done, and that she worried how his crime would affect her daughter in the future.

“... this happened at what we thought was a safe place,” the mother wrote.

According to charging papers, Parks worked as a lunch supervisor at Gray Middle School, where he also volunteered for Youth for Christ, and was head of security at Zion’s River Church.

He has since been fired by Tacoma Public Schools.

Parks met the girl at a church youth group a couple years ago, and the two started texting after her grandmother died.

That evolved into him exchanging naked photos with the girl, and inappropriately touching her, prosecutors said. Those interactions happened roughly a dozen times in 2015, in a church office, art camp and his car, they said.

A pastor learned about the relationship in December and reported it to police.

When Parks addressed the court Thursday, he apologized for what he’d done.

“I know this has caused a lot of problems and hurt,” he said. “... I’m looking forward to doing the classes and whatever is required of me.”

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Schwartz told Parks: “You’re the one who caused the pain to this girl and her family,” and he said it was important Parks understand that.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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