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Former pastor found guilty

Thu., June 12, 2008

An emotional Jamie Howard called her daughter from the Spokane County Courthouse on Wednesday to report that the man who attempted to rape her – the Rev. Herman Lewis – had just been convicted.

“He’s guilty. He’s guilty,” Howard said as tears fell down her cheeks. “I love you.”

Amanda McKenna had testified at Lewis’ trial about his rampage on April 30, 2007, when he offered her $50 to have sex with him and attempted to drag her out of a Shari’s restaurant.

“She’s crying,” the mother said when she flipped the cell phone shut.

McKenna was working as a cook at Shari’s when Lewis, then pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, solicited her. When she declined, he grabbed her and tried to drag her out of the restaurant. An elderly customer tried to intervene and punched Lewis, who then punched the customer in the face. In Lewis’ attempt to flee authorities, he tried to run over two Spokane police officers.

Lewis, who lost his job at the church shortly after his arrest, admitted early that he was living a double life, preaching on Sundays then drinking and doing crack cocaine on Mondays, authorities said.

Jurors deliberated for more than 1 1/2 days on five charges stemming from last year’s incident. In addition to attempted rape, a jury also convicted 50-year-old Lewis on first- and second-degree assault charges. He was acquitted of indecent liberties and of a second count of first-degree assault.

“We’re very pleased with the jury and the work they did and the time they took to get it right,” said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Love.

During the trial, defense attorneys claimed their client was mentally unstable. But a videotaped interview of Lewis and a detective that was shown at the trial apparently proved otherwise. Lewis admitted he intentionally acted crazy, such as telling people he was God, just in case that could get him out of charges. He also told the detective he had a gun in his car and he should have used it to kill police.

“The tape was definitely a key to the case,” Love said.

Lewis faces 20 years to life, Love said. Lewis is scheduled to be sentenced in about six weeks.


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