LANCASTER – A 31-year-old Desert Christian Schools employee accused of molesting two young girls at Grace Chapel’s Sunday church services in Lancaster has pleaded no contest.
Jonathan Michael Macy entered the plea Friday to one count of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 and admitted the special allegation of more than one victim. A no contest plea has the same legal effect as a guilty plea.
Macy is expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to the terms of the negotiated plea.
The plea deal was struck as prosecutors were readying to file six more felony sex charges against Macy involving at least four additional victims, Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami said in court Friday.
Hatami explained that both sides, with approval from Macy’s victims and their families, agreed to the plea deal to protect the victims from further emotional trauma.
“The young girls didn’t want testify [in open court],” Hatami said.
The two victims that triggered the case against Macy are 11 and 12 years old, and both knew Macy through his work at Grace Chapel Church, according to detectives from the Sheriff Department’s Special Victims Bureau.
Macy was an employee at Desert Christian Schools and also worked at Grace Chapel Church, which is located on the school’s campus in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
On Aug. 5, detectives began investigating an allegation of child molestation against Macy, and over the course of the investigation, a second victim was identified. Both incidents happened within the last year at Grace Chapel’s Sunday church services, detectives said.
Macy was arrested Aug. 13, and two days later he pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14.
During the investigation, detectives served a search warrant at Macy’s home, which turned up more potential criminal charges against Macy, Hatami said.
“There was evidence of a crime on his computer,” Hatami said.
Additional investigation by the Sheriff Department’s Special Victims Bureau uncovered four more victims, who said Macy molested them at Grace Chapel during church worship services. Three of the additional victims were between the ages of 11 and 13 when the alleged molestation occurred within the last year, Hatami said. The fourth additional victim, now 18 years old, told detectives that Macy molested her about three years ago, Hatami said.
The additional victims and their parents wanted minimal involvement in the case, Hatami said, and therefore the plea agreement was determined to be the best solution for all affected.
“The potential is going to be state prison for the rest of his life,” Hatami said.
Officials at Desert Christian Schools issued a statement Friday in response to Macy’s court outcome.
“Desert Christian Schools recently learned of Mr. Jonathan Macy’s agreement of a plea deal with the Los Angeles District Attorney and we are pleased that this painful saga is being resolved quickly,” said Executive Director Cecil Swetland in the press statement. “We want to thank law enforcement for their efforts in handling this situation.”
Swetland said Desert Christian Schools held two information meetings regarding the incident, and law enforcement was present at both meetings to advise parents of the situation. Pastoral and clinical counselors have provided guidance on how parents can address the issues with their children, Swetland said in the statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this tragic series of events,” Swetland stated.
In addition to working at Desert Christian Schools and Grace Chapel Church, Macy was a substitute teacher at St. Mary’s School and Grace Lutheran School.
After pleading no contest to the felony sex charge and admitting the special allegation Friday, Macy was ordered held without bail. He is due back in court on October 14, when a judge is expected to approve his 15-years-to-life state prison sentence.
Editor’s note re: Macy’s employment at Grace Chapel: We contacted Grace Chapel Church via telephone and we were routed to an office assistant who asked not to be named. The worker said that Jonathan Macy was not a Youth Pastor, as stated by the District Attorney’s office. The worker then claimed that Macy was not on staff at Grace Chapel Church. When questioned further, the worker said Macy worked as a part-time custodian before abruptly ending the call.
UPDATED @ 3:30 p.m., 9/12/14: According to a statement, emailed by Grace Chapel’s Executive Administrative Assistant, Jill Tanner: “It has come to our attention that the District Attorney’s office identified Jonathan Macy as a former Youth Pastor at GC. At no time has Mr. Macy served as a pastor at our church or at any other church. We are not sure where they have obtained that info but it is incorrect.”
Tanner also emailed a formal press statement from Grace Chapel, issued in response to Macy’s court outcome. Read that statement here.
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