MANASSAS, Va. (FOX 5 DC) — A former Virginia youth pastor will spend three years in prison for sexually abusing a teenager from his church.
Jordan Baird was facing up to 10 years behind bars, but on Monday, a judge sentenced him to three years, plus three years probation after he pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent acts with a child by a custodian.
Baird spoke during the sentencing hearing saying he takes complete responsibility for what he’s done. He apologized to the victim and her family, as well as his own family and wife.
“This was my lie. These were my mistakes,” said Baird. “I brought shame on my family and shame on my friendships.”
The victim in the case also spoke. She was 16 when Baird sexually abused her at the Life Church in Manassas, a megachurch owned by Baird’s family.
In 2014, he kissed her, exposed himself, put her hand on his genitals and asked for oral sex.
The victim was in tears when she spoke saying she’s lost her trust in people and lost her faith.
Her mother said her daughter suffered from depression before being abused and that what happened caused her to spiral.
She wasn’t the only young woman Baird targeted from the church around 2014, soon after he appeared on a singing competition reality show called ‘The Next.’ There were other underage girls and young adults, two of whom spoke at the sentencing hearing.
Last year, Baird was convicted for sexually abusing Morgan Harding who was also 16 at the time. She’s given FOX 5 permission to identify her, though she’s opted not to speak publicly.
Baird was sentenced to eight months in prison in that case and was forced to register as a sex offender.
Harding was in court with her family Monday. FOX 5 spoke to her mother, Gloria Harding, after the sentencing.
“I believe that three years in a state penitentiary that hopefully, Jordan will really truly get the help that he needs, programs that he needs to go into there. And I hope it really sends a strong message that abusing children, especially inside the church, is absolutely unacceptable,” said Harding.
Harding said Baird should have admitted what he did when he was arrested several years ago. She and others from the church say church leaders painted victims as liars.
“I hope that his family was able today to really see how much just the perpetuation of the lies that went on for so many years really culminated to today. None of this was necessary,” Harding said.
Baird’s wife also spoke in court about the heartbreak she’s suffered. She said her husband is a changed man. They have a daughter who’s 5-years-old.
This case prompted a new law in Virginia that makes clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse. It went into effect just last week.
The church didn’t go to police right away when allegations came to light.
No one from Baird’s family wanted to be interviewed. His brother, who’s now head pastor of The Life Church, told FOX 5 he’s very sorry for all that’s happened.