According to reports, Michael Clare—who is facing first-degree rape charges—turned down the offer because he says he is innocent.
Despite the judge citing that there was “almost irrefutable proof” that Clare raped the girl, his lawyers asked the judge to consider offering probation instead of prison time. The judge emphatically rejected Clare’s attorney’s offer.
“I would never do that,” Bronx Supreme Court Justice Megan Tallmer exclaimed, citing a DNA match between Clare and his young victim’s aborted fetus.
Michael Clare is married and is the pastor of Harvest Worship Center and is also the principal of the church’s prep school.
According to the victim, who is now 15, Clare preyed upon her for three years before finally raping and impregnating her when she was just 12.
Although offering defendants a plea deals is common practice, it is troubling that Pastor Clare was offered a deal of just three years for repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl. If he had taken the deal, he could have been out of prison in less than two years—before his victim could even graduate from high school.
Ironically, Clare’s pleas of innocence may be the only way true justice will be served. Based on the DNA evidence, prosecutors feel that his best option was to take the generous offer.
“This was a sweetheart offer considering the evidence against him,” said Bronx prosecutor. “It won’t get any better from here.”