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Pastor gets 18 years for rape, molestation

ELLENSBURG -- A Cle Elum pastor was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to repeatedly raping and molesting a boy over a period of six years, according to Kittitas County prosecutors.

CLE ELUMJames Watkins' sentence was at the top of the range for his conviction on three counts of child rape and one count of child molestation.

Watkins, 51, was arrested and charged in July after the victim came forward out of concern that Watkins was grooming another victim, deputy prosecutor Paul Sander said.

Watkins and the victim, who is now an adult, knew each other, Sander said. No other victims were identified during the investigation, which was conducted by Cle Elum-Roslyn-South Cle Elum police.
The victim reported that the abuse took place from 1997 to 2003, when the victim was between 9 and 15 years old, Sander said.

Sander said he would have filed up to 11 counts against Watkins if the case had gone to trial, but the victim agreed that it would be best to resolve the case with the original charges.
Watkins had been the pastor at the Bible Baptist Church in Cle Elum. A message left Friday afternoon at the church to confirm his current status was not immediately returned.
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