Former church youth leader sentenced to 15 years

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Feb 12, 2020 - 05:35 PM

Former church youth leader Kenneth Scott Marshall, 37, of Marsh Hawk Road in Mathews was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison by Judge Jeffrey W. Shaw during a hearing on Wednesday morning in Mathews Circuit Court. Shaw also imposed an additional three-year sentence under guidelines allowing for additional time in felony cases. Those three years were suspended.

Marshall was also ordered to undergo psycho-sexual treatment while in prison and, upon his release, will be prohibited from going within 100 feet of any school or day care center, playground, gymnasium, athletic field, school bus, or school-related activity. He is also prohibited from having contact with the victim. He requested an appeal.

Marshall was convicted by a Williamsburg jury last September of one felony count of forceful sodomy of a 15-year-old boy with an intellectual disability. The jury recommended that he serve 15 years in prison for the crime.

Testimony during the trial revealed that the victim, who is now 17 years old, had been a member of Marshall’s youth group at Cornerstone Church in Cobbs Creek since the age of 10 or 11.

Marshall denied having had sexual relations with the boy, but a forensics expert testified that DNA matching Marshall’s had been found on the victim’s genitals, and that the chance of anyone else being the perpetrator was one in 7.2 billion, or the entire population of the world.

In seeking the maximum sentence imposed by the jury, Mathews Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Bowen outlined Marshall’s past criminal behavior, including assault and battery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and obstruction of justice. He also brought up an incident of attempted robbery that occurred in Hampton involving a conspiracy in which Marshall’s aunt was struck with a hammer in an effort to obtain her winning lottery ticket.

Bowen discussed Marshall’s own admissions to the court that he had engaged in sex as a youth, including with men, and said that Marshall’s psycho-sexual evaluation had revealed that 25 percent of his sexual encounters before the age of 18 had been with men, while 50 percent of such encounters since the age of 18 had been with men.

“It’s not unusual that he would be attracted to young boys,” said Bowen.

During his trial, Marshall also admitted to having been a heavy drug user, and his pre-sentence report showed that he had used morphine beginning at the age of 11, and had over time added such drugs as oxycodone, cocaine, and heroin. Marshall said all drug use had stopped at the age of 27.

Bowen said that Marshall had further testified to having youth members of the church where he was a youth pastor, Cornerstone Church at Cobbs Creek, routinely spend the night at his house without a parent or other adult present.

“Are there other victims?” Bowen asked.

Bowen said that during Marshall’s psycho-sexual evaluation he denied involvement in the crime, blamed the victim, and accepted no responsibility for his actions. In addition, he questioned the validity of the DNA evidence against him, and presented himself as the victim of false accusations.

Further, Bowen said the evaluation painted Marshall as a manipulative person who is self-centered and is at moderately high risk for recidivism.

“His denial that it happened makes it unlikely that he will avail himself of help,” said Bowen. “Despite being caught, he blames the victim and has no remorse for his actions or their impact.”

Bowen further characterized Marshall as “a predator, a pedophile. … a con artist” who “selected victims he thought would not tell, and if they did so, would not be believed.” He said that Marshall had groomed his victim and had ingratiated himself with members of the church and with the victim’s family “because that’s what pedophiles do.”

 

Beyond that, Bowen said that Marshall had conned a church member, who called the victim on social media and accused him of lying, as well as an assistant pastor, who told the victim he must change his story. He said that Marshall had tried to con everyone from Investigator April Edwards to the jury, and was “now attempting to con this court.”

Defense attorney Jason Adkins argued that the jury had asked for a 15-year sentence “with 10 to serve,” but Bowen quickly dispatched that claim, pointing out that the verdict form states that the jury wanted a 15-year sentence with a minimum of 10 years to serve, and that a poll of the jury had shown they didn’t want Marshall to be paroled any earlier than 10 years.

“Marshall is a despicable specimen of a human being,” said Bowen, “and he deserves no mercy. My only regret is that you can impose no harsher sentence.”

Speaking on his own behalf, Marshall said, “I know the truth, my accuser knows the truth, and God knows the truth.”

“I will stand before God for what I’ve done,” he said. “Through this whole process I’ve said I’ve done a lot wrong in my past. But that is not me today. I might be chained like a criminal, but God is not chained … I believe the truth will prevail someday.”