Virginia Catholic Sunday School Teacher Sentenced To 17 Years For Child Sex Abuse

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Sunday school teacher William L. Kerr

News Leader / USA Today

“William L. Kerr is a Vietnam War veteran, a former Sunday school teacher and a one-time member of the Knights of Columbus.

After being sentenced to more than 17 years in prison Tuesday, Kerr, a convicted pedophile, can add inmate with the Virginia Department of Corrections to his resumé.

Already 75 years old and suffering from a number of serious ailments, the elderly Staunton man could be looking at spending the rest of his life in prison.

“I’m so sorry for my terrible behavior,” Kerr said in Staunton Circuit Court moments before being sentenced.

Kerr pleaded guilty in February to molesting six young girls between 1990 and 2004, but Anne Reed, the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Staunton, said there were many more victims.

Kerr, a Staunton native who moved back to the area decades ago following a 20-year career in the Air Force, was a Sunday school teacher and usher at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Staunton, where his victims attended services with their families.

One of his victims, speaking in court Tuesday, said Kerr used the church as “his personal hunting ground.”

The victim recalled as a little girl, while her parents visited with Kerr’s wife at his home, how he led her to his backyard to look at rabbits he was raising. Instead, he molested her atop an air-conditioning unit. “Blowing bubbles” is how he described oral sex to many of his young victims, evidence showed.

The Air Force veteran worked at a local office supply store and the victim said he would take her to his workplace, where he would have her sit on top of a photocopier and make prints of her underside.

Kerr also fondled the girls at his house, inside his van and at his office.

The victim said she was molested for four years, and was 12 years old when the sexual abuse finally stopped.

“I was turning into a woman and he was no longer interested,” she said.

Kerr painted an image of himself in the community as a “stand-up churchgoer” who was a regular at Saint Francis, somebody “who could be trusted,” the victim noted.

“All of this was a lie,” she said.

Numerous victims wrote letters to the court describing their struggles in life following the molestations. Many suffer from anxiety, stress, alcohol abuse, depression, flashbacks, relationship issues and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Another victim said she still attends Saint Francis. “I feel dirty walking into that house of God,” she said.

Many of the victims said Kerr befriended their families in order to get to them. One victim said her family was poor, and that Kerr would buy them groceries and hire her brothers to mow his yard.

“This man was practically family,” she said in her letter.

Kerr was also convicted on one charge of possessing child pornography. During a search of his home, Staunton police seized several computers that contained child porn, as well as a hidden VHS tape and photo slides of young girls that Reed described as “child erotica.”

According to evidence, Kerr suffers from a number of medical issues, including Cerebrovascular disease, a heart ailment, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and he wears a permanent catheter.

None of the ailments prevented Circuit Judge Charles Ricketts III from imposing a lengthy prison sentence of 17 years and 11 months, the high-end of Virginia’s recommended sentencing guidelines for Kerr, who had no prior felonies.

“He used his position in the church to accomplish all this,” Ricketts said.”

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