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Youth pastor living in Medina pleads guilty to having sex with underage girls

A former Van Wert youth pastor changed his plea to guilty on four felony sexual battery charges.

Benjamin R. Boysel, 34, was in court for a final pretrial hearing Monday morning. A jury trial was already on the court calendar to begin May 17. Instead, the defendant, dressed in dirty blue jeans, a flannel shirt and green jacket, signed the change of plea declaration, avoiding a public trial.

Boysel, who has been living with his parents in Medina, Ohio, was formerly employed as youth pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Van Wert. It was during that time that, according to the indictment, that Boysel had sexual relations with four different females who were under the age of 18.

During the hearing, Boysel had little to say outloud, only speaking to answer questions from Van Wert Common Pleas Court Judge Charles D. Steele. He also conferred with his attorney, Edward Hatcher before and after the hearing. Stacy Widmer of the Van Wert County Adult Probation Department also met with Boysel before he left on bond with his father.

The next step in the case is sentencing, where Boysel could be given up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $40,000. However, at the change of plea hearing, Assistant County Prosecutor Kevin Taylor notified Steele that the state had agreed to recommend consecutive sentences of four, two, four and two years on the charges. The result, if Steele goes along with the agreement, would place Boysel in prison for 12 years.

With the guilty plea, Boysel will be classified as a tier three sex offender. He will have to register in person with law enforcement authorities every 90 days for the rest of his life.

The Van Wert County Grand Jury issued the indictment against Boysel in March after an extensive investigation by Van Wert police. The church immediately dismissed Boysel after learning of the allegations against him.

The indictment specified dates for each of the third-degree felony charges. The first count alleges sexual battery between Jan. 1, 2006 - Oct. 8, 2007. The second charge occurred between March 23, 2006 - March 22, 2008. A third count is for conduct between Jan. 1, 2007 - Jan. 29, 2008. The final charge is related to acts committed between July 1 - Nov. 18, 2009.

Steele set a sentencing date in the case for June 30.