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Youth leader sentenced in rape of girls

Ex-church worker guilty of three counts

A former Post Falls church youth leader was sentenced Thursday to six to 18 years in jail for three counts of statutory rape.

Jordan Vernon, 20, was sentenced by Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Mitchell to three consecutive sentences of two to six years.

But Mitchell retained jurisdiction over the case, which means Vernon will go to the North Idaho Correctional Institute in Cottonwood for treatment.

The judge will hold a hearing in about six months to decide if Vernon should be released on probation or sent to prison in Boise, where he could stay for as long as 18 years.

Vernon was accused of having sex with at least two girls, ages 14 and 17, and of having inappropriate contact with at least two others, ages 12 and 14, from 2007 to 2009. Police say he met and began grooming the girls for sex while serving as a youth leader in training at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls.

He was arrested in December on charges of sexual battery of a minor child under the age of 16, lewd conduct with a minor child under the age of 16 and statutory rape for having sexual intercourse with a child under 18, among other charges, news reports say.

The week after his arrest, another teenager came forward claiming to also have been victimized by Vernon.

A statement from the church at the time of Vernon’s arrest said he had been dismissed from his volunteer positions in July 2008. Church records showed that he had not attended the church since November 2008.

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