A Connellsville Township man was found guilty of exposing himself to minors during his time as a youth minister at a Uniontown church.
Fayette County Judge Steve P. Leskinen found Clyde E. Brothers Jr., 68, guilty of indecent exposure and corruption of minors following a non-jury trial Wednesday.
The only victim to testify was a 38-year-old man who said he first met Brothers in 1988 when he was around 8 years old. At the time, Brothers was a youth pastor at Uniontown Church of Christ.
The Herald-Standard does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
The man said he was around 11 or 12 in the early 1990s when Brothers started taking him out to the movies or other activities. That led to him spending a night at Brothers’ home in Connellsville Township, he testified.
Assistant District Attorney Wendy O’Brien asked the man if his parents knew that he was spending time with Brothers and staying overnight at his home. The victim testified they did, but said neither he nor his parents saw Brothers as a threat.
The man testified that feeling started to change for him when Brothers started showing him pornographic movies.
“He told me every child goes through this at some point,” the man testified. He told Leskinen that his former youth minister told him those movies were how fathers explained sex to their sons.
“He said it is the beginning of what it is to become a man,” the victim testified.
Brothers’ attorney, Vincent Tiberi, asked the man if he ever conveyed to Brothers that he was uncomfortable watching the movies. The man testified he didn’t because Brothers made it seem like it was a normal thing.
Watching the movies escalated to Brothers inappropriately touching himself, the man testified. He recalled Brothers saying he wanted to show him how to do it correctly.
Stopping briefly to regain control of his emotions, the man testified those instances occurred nearly 50 times.
Around 30 supporters wearing blue shirts in support of sexual assault awareness sat in the courtroom, many of them friends and family of sexual assault victims. They, too, became emotional during the man’s testimony.
The man told Leskinen the last encounter he had with Brothers was on a church trip to Arkansas, staying with Brothers’ friends. He testified he was awakened during the night by Brothers fondling him. The man testified he pushed Brothers’ hand away and slept on the floor.
When he told Brothers’ friends what had happened the next morning, the man testified, they told him he should pray, and forgive Brothers.
The man said he didn’t tell anyone else about the abuse and stayed away from Brothers.
State police Cpl. Joseph Ross testified he became familiar with Brothers in December 2016, after someone involved in a church organization brought Brothers to the station after Brothers admitted he had touched children.
“(Brothers) related that he wanted to get it off his chest and wanted to talk,” Ross testified.
During the interview, Brothers said other children stayed at his home over the years, specifically identifying four including the man who testified Wednesday in court, Ross said.
Ross testified he was able to make contact with all four, but said only the now-38-year-old man was willing to testify.
Brothers was charged in March 2017. He did not testify during his non-jury trial.
Tiberi argued the charges should be dismissed because of the statute of limitations on the case had expired, but O’Brien said a change to the statute involving sex crimes gave victims until the age of 50 to bring charges.
A count of intimidating a victim originally lodged against Brothers was dismissed earlier in the case because the statute of limitations had expired on that charge.
Leskinen ordered Brothers to undergo an evaluation by the state’s Sexual Offender Assessment Board within 90 days to determine if he is a sexually violent predator. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Following the guilty verdict, those in the courtroom celebrated the decision.
“We’re here to raise awareness of how terrible a tragedy this really is,” said one man, adding that while stories are coming out about abuse in the Catholic Church, abuse can occur in any religious or secular organization. “We’re a bunch of parents asking question and, obviously, want to see justice upheld.”
Brothers remains free on $25,000.