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Tennessee pastor gets judicial diversion rather than prison

As everyone knows, we all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes lead to criminal charges that can result in punishment. In many cases, society is better served by allowing those who acknowledge a mistake to learn from it and rebuild their lives.

That is what is happening with a Tennessee minister who has pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for commercial sex. His criminal defense attorney recently persuaded a Knox County Criminal Court judge to opt for diversion rather than the harshest punishments the law has to offer.

Former youth minister Jason Evan Kennedy was sentenced to 30 days in jail and six years of supervised probation. At the end of the probation, he will be eligible to have the felony conviction removed from his record and have his name removed from the Tennessee sex offender registry.

The 48-year-old was ensnared in an undercover sting operation back in May of 2016.

During that same operation, a 34-year-old lay pastor from Oak Ridge was arrested on the same charge. He is due to appear in court later this month.

Kennedy’s criminal defense attorney said his client has suffered ample punishment for his mistake: he has lost both his ministry and his family, the lawyer said. According to a news article, the pastor is receiving counseling and hopes to eventually be able to minister others struggling with sex addiction.

"If anyone can help someone who falls astray, or has a sexual addiction, it's Mr. Kennedy," the attorney told the court as he argued for judicial diversion.

The criminal justice system is not often compassionate, but with an effective, experienced attorney on your side, you can avoid the system’s severest punishments and put your life back together.

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