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Former pastor’s trial date set

Profile image for By Megan Gray-Hatfield
By Megan Gray-Hatfield

A former Denton County pastor is set to face trial later this year after he allegedly tried to coerce a teenage girl to remove her clothes, law enforcement officials said.

Jeffrey Dale Williams, the former lead pastor at The Church of Corinth, will go on trial Dec. 1 on a charge of attempted sexual performance of a child, according to Denton County court records.

Attempted sexual performance of a child is a third-degree felony. If convicted, Williams faces a sentence of two to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services contacted Corinth police investigators about possible allegations of sexual abuse on April 3, 2013.

According to the arrest affidavit, Williams is accused of spending two hours trying to persuade a girl to take off her clothes and show herself nude.

Records obtained from Corinth police show that Williams allegedly locked a door and put a chair against it before asking the victim to take off her clothes so he could see “eye candy.”

The persuasion, records show, allegedly continued for more than two hours.

During the monthlong investigation, police were able to review reports from DFPS and contact an alleged witness, according to the affidavit.

That person, police said, provided them with five audio recordings that included the voices of Williams and the girl who is “high school-aged.”

Since the victim was younger than 17, her identity is being protected, police Capt. Greg Wilkerson said shortly after the arrest last year.

Church officials Tuesday would not comment on the upcoming trial, but Williams hasn’t been with the church since his arrest.

Jamie Beck, first assistant attorney for the Denton County District Attorney’s Office, said the office can’t comment on pretrial plea negotiations, but did say negotiations can continue up until Dec. 1.

“We are always prepared to face a trial,” Beck said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “That’s our job.”

Attempts to reach Williams’ attorney, Denton-based lawyer Derek Adame, for comment were not returned.

MEGAN GRAY-HATFIELD can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.