A former Woodbridge minister who confessed to having repeated sexual contact with a teenage member of his church youth group was sentenced yesterday to one year in prison.
The fact that Frank Jenkins, 40, came forward last November and confessed to the affair even before authorities were aware that it had occurred was largely responsible for the length of the sentence, Prince William Circuit Court Judge Prince William D. Hamblen said.
Hamblen gave Jenkins 10 years in prison on two counts of taking indecent liberties with the girl, who was then 14, suspending all but one of those years.
But yesterday after the sentencing, the girl's family said that Jenkins, who was living in Chico, Calif., when he confessed to the crime, had gotten off easy. He had not behaved so forthrightly, they said, but had been smoked out by their own threats to contact authorities.
The victim's mother said the family had to force the Baptist minister to stop contacting their daughter from California. She said that Jenkins confessed to Prince William authorities the day after he learned that the girl's parents knew about the 15-month affair.
"Frank knew that his days were numbered," she said.
The girl and her parents are not identified because The Washington Post generally does not identify the victims of sex crimes.
"What we do know is that he is an incredibly manipulative person and is a man who is capable of looking people in the eye and lying very convincingly," the victim's mother said. "We made the mistake of trusting him. He betrayed that trust in a terrible way."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Claiborne T. Richardson III said yesterday that sentencing guidelines suggested probation for Jenkins's crime, but that he had recommended one year in jail.
"When we talked about it, the victim's family wanted him to get more time," Richardson said, adding that he had been reluctant to put the victim on the stand and further expose her. "And we had to take into account that he came all the way from California to turn himself in."
Defense attorney Matthew Szymanski said Jenkins's confession was motivated primarily by guilt, but that he could "hear the hounds coming."
Jenkins alerted the Prince William County Department of Social Services about his relationship with the girl in late November, and he corresponded with authorities for several months before surrendering in May.
The girl, now 17, had been a member of Jenkins's youth group at First Baptist Church of Woodbridge and was a babysitter for his three children.
Jenkins, as a mentor, grew close to the girl and over a period of more than a year had "inappropriate sexual contact" with her several times. Prince William County police said the contact involved "inappropriate touching" but not sexual intercourse.
Jenkins moved to California in July 1998 to become the youth minister at a church in Chico.
In court yesterday, Jenkins made just one statement: "I recognize that I have done a great harm to many people, especially to the victim. And I am very, very sorry."
Jenkins's wife, Pattie, who wept as her husband was led from the courtroom, said after the hearing that she is standing by him and that she hopes her family can use the experience to help others.
"It is in the best interests of myself and my children to stay with him," Pattie Jenkins said. "He [messed] up big, and we're paying for it. But I think this is what God wanted me to do. I want to be able to move on and help my family to understand the consequence of sin."
Pattie Jenkins said her three children--ages 10, 7, and 5--were close to the victim. "They love the girl," she said. "My husband is a good man, he just made a big mistake."
Judge Hamblen characterized Jenkins's actions as more than a minor error. "This is a crime, a moral failure, not a mistake in judgment," he said before sentencing Jenkins.
Jenkins, who has served four months in jail, will serve eight more months. He was ordered to have no contact with minors--other than his children--for a year after his release. He also will undergo sex-offender counseling.
CAPTION: Frank Jenkins received a one-year sentence for his sexual contact with a teenage girl.