Incest Verdict Is Bittersweet For Daughter Of Minister

James L. Bevel was convicted Thursday of having sex with his daughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
James L. Bevel was convicted Thursday of having sex with his daughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. (Anonymous - AP)
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By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aaralyn Mills said she had a bittersweet feeling late Thursday afternoon when a Loudoun County jury found her 71-year-old father, Christian minister and former civil rights leader James L. Bevel, guilty of having sex with her in 1990s when she was a teenager.

"It was just a rush of 'Wow. It's pretty much over,' " Mills said yesterday, recalling the moment the verdict was read in Courtroom 2A. Several hours later, the seven-man, five-woman Circuit Court jury decided Bevel should spend 15 years in prison.

Mills, 29, said her father, who organized some of the nation's most storied civil rights marches and was a confidant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is a pedophile and deserved to go to prison. At the same time, she was sorry it had come to that.

"The real objective would have been for my father to just apologize and to work on this with us as a family," she said in an interview from her home in suburban Maryland. "In life, you pretty much have a right to do what you want to do. But there are consequences to doing some things."

Bevel was convicted of unlawfully committing fornication with his daughter from Oct. 14, 1992, to Oct. 14, 1994, when they lived in Leesburg. Mills was 14 or 15 at the time.

Bevel pleaded not guilty, and he testified that although he had rubbed his daughter's chest, he had never had sex with her because that would have violated his moral law. "You start from A to Z," Bevel said. "If you break the law, you can't get to Z."

The Washington Post does not identify victims of sexual assault without their permission. On Thursday, Mills agreed to be named. She was known as Jamese Machado, her former married name, when she filed the incest charge in 2005.

Mills walked into the courtroom Monday holding her newborn daughter, whom she handed to a family member when it was time to testify.

Composed and unemotional, she told a wrenching story about a family headed by a domineering man who would father 16 children through relationships with seven woman. Bevel was one of 16 children himself.

Mills told the jury she was sexually molested by her father about 10 times a year in early childhood, beginning when she was 6.

She said Bevel invited her to watch as he had sex with her mother.

She spoke of a don't-hang-your-hat lifestyle in at least six states and the District, living at times with both parents, at times with one parent, at times alone and at times in communal "clinic houses."

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