Cuyahoga County

'Extremely delusional' North Olmsted youth pastor sentenced for sexual relationship with teen

9/8/2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A North Olmsted youth pastor will spend a decade in prison for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old member of his church.

Brian Mitchell, 31, sat Thursday with his brow furrowed for most of the 90-minute hearing where Cuyahoga County Judge Patrick Corrigan sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Mitchell — a husband and father of three children under the age of 8— was the youth pastor at Columbia Road Baptist Church in North Olmsted when he met the victim.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual battery.

"I'm so sorry to (the) family," Mitchell said. "I can't imagine the work and effort you've had to put into fixing your family."

The girl in a letter to the judge that she looked up to Mitchell, and that she sought him out to learn how to live a more spiritual life through religion.

Mitchell began sending her text messages that became more and more frequent. Someone brought it to the attention of church leaders and the texting stopped for a time.

He started up again, and the girl said the tone of the messages quickly turned from innocent and fun to serious. She said he complained about his wife and their marital problems.

She wrote that she wanted the texts to stop but felt scared to say anything because he was a powerful figure in the church and in her life.

One day, he drove to her home and told her to come out to his car. He kissed her and told her he wanted to see her again.

The next time he drove out to her home, he had sex with her in his car. Another time he had sex with her at her home while his wife was out of town, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Kristen Karkutt said.

"I did not give him permission," the girl wrote. "I clearly said 'no, didn't want to.' I felt like he tricked me."

Mitchell directed her to delete text message exchanges between the two and told her never to tell anyone. He picked her up during her lunch break from school. He sent her flowers for her birthday, then asked her mother at church if she knew who sent them.

Normally an outgoing teen who played sports and worked two jobs while going to school, she found herself unable to get out of bed. She struggled in school.

Once the relationship came to light, the church reported the accusations to Fairview Park police.

Read the entire story at Cleveland.com.