Pastor pleads guilty to raping church members

A South Kitsap pastor pleaded guilty last month to raping and molesting at least four girls who attended the church he ran out of his home in South Colby, according to court documents.

Robbin Leeroy Harper, 60, a longtime pastor with The Church in South Colby, pleaded guilty to eight counts that include first-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation, and fourth-degree assault.

He is scheduled to be sentenced April 9, where he faces 279 months — or just over 23 years — to life in prison.

In his signed affidavit to the court, Harper admits to having sexual contact that ranged from intercourse to “sexually motivated hugs” with four victims.

At least twice that many victims reported similar contact, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department and the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office.

The first victim to come forward, who is now in her 20s, disclosed that Harper began molesting her when she was 12 and he was her pastor at the church, according to the probable cause statement filed by the Sheriff’s Office. She said that the abuse, which continued until she reached 18, began as touching and quickly escalated to sex.

When she tried to tell him she did not want to do such things, she said Harper told her that she “needed to get over these feelings or she would have problems with intimacy the rest of her life,” according to the document.

She said she also noticed that Harper seemed to pay special attention to the young females in the church, and provided investigators with the names of other young girls that may also have been victimized by him.

The next alleged victim that investigators talked to, a woman also now in her 20s, described a similar pattern of abuse.

She said Harper began relations with her from the time she was 12 until she turned 17 or 18, telling her he was preparing her for marriage and that he “loved only her.”

A third victim of similar age said Harper began molesting her when she was 13.

She said she was frightened when he began touching her, and he “tried to console her by telling her (they were doing) the work of God,” according to the interviewer’s report.

At both his arraignment and formal charging, Harper was represented by defense attorney Tom Weaver, who described his client as a retired pastor who had many ties in the community.

“He has lived in Kitsap County nearly all of his life, for 52 years, and is married and a landowner,” Weaver said.

Deputy Wilson described Harper’s church, which is in a gated complex where the defendant also lives, as nondenominational with about 60 members.

One woman who attended Harper’s first court appearance and said she was related to one of the victims but declined to give her name, said her family used to belong to the church but left it four years ago when the atmosphere became too controlling.

“(Harper) was taking more and more control,” she said, explaining that when she first joined it was a “quiet, normal” church that gradually changed.

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