Anti-gay Georgia pastor gets life in prison for molestation

Anti-gay Georgia pastor Kenneth Adkins continued to proclaim his innocence Tuesday even as a judge sentenced him to life in prison for child molestation.

Adkins, 57, will serve the first 35 years of his sentence in prison and the rest on probation, according to Jacksonville.com. A jury found Adkins guilty on eight charges – three counts of child molestation, three counts of aggravated child molestation and two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes – on April 10 after a five-day trial. 

Prosecutors said Adkins had sex with a teen boy and girl – both 15 – seven years ago after he groomed them for a relationship. The sex took place in Adkins' church office, at the beach and his car between August 2009 and March 2010.

On Tuesday, Adkins maintained his innocence and showed no remorse, even leaning on the verdicts in criminal cases against Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman for support. Seriously. Via Jacksonville.com:

In court Tuesday, Adkins again expressed his innocence publicly just before his sentencing. In a late afternoon phone call to the Times-Union Tuesday, Adkins once again said he was innocent.

The jury, he said, failed to comb through the evidence. In high-profile cases of Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman, Adkins said, the jury at least combed through the evidence and found reasonable doubt.

“With Zimmerman and Casey Anthony, those were courageous verdicts,” he said in the telephone call. “We may not agree with them, but they were courageous verdicts.”

But Adkins was stripped of the smile and confidence that he displayed during his trial earlier this month. Via Jacksonville.com:

Kenneth Adkins walked into the courtroom a very different-looking man Tuesday. Gone were the controversial man’s expensive tailored suits and ties he wore as a preacher and during his trial. Gone was his confident and pleasant-looking smile. Instead, a handcuffed Adkins emerged in a forest green jail-issued jumpsuit. His hands clasped a Styrofoam cup of coffee. His face sullen.

The male victim – now 22, gay, married and in the military – said in a statement read in court Tuesday that he felt "shame and guilt" over the molestation. Via Jacksonville.com:

“Throughout this time I’ve felt nothing but shame and guilt which later led to depression,” it read in part. “There is never a time I wish I could stop thinking about it. Constantly depressed and never feeling like the shame or guilt would leave, I considered multiple easy outs. Once I figured out who Kenneth Adkins truly was, it hurt and I didn’t want to believe it. Weighing the positives and the negatives was the most difficult part. Attached to those feelings I felt like if I said anything, I would be betraying him. He was the closest thing to a father that I had. I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to believe that I was a victim. … I felt so emasculated back then and even now.”

In June 2016, Adkins criticized LGBT people a day after a gunman killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others inside Pulse in Orlando.

Adkins’ tweet said: “been through so much with these Jacksonville homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!”

He also called LGBT people "sinners who need Jesus" in another tweet hours earlier.

The pastor, who lived in Brunswick and operated a public relations business in Jacksonville, also rallied opposition to an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was being considered in the Florida city.