The fate of a former pastor, who is accused of sexually assaulting underage girls, is now in the hands of a jury.
Attorneys wrapped up closing arguments in the Otis Holland trial Wednesday evening. Jurors began deliberations shortly after 4:30 p.m
Holland is facing 17 felony counts of sexual assault and lewdness, along with misdemeanor counts of witness tampering and conspiracy to destroy evidence.
It’s taken four years for Holland to go on trial. When Holland was first charged, he fled to Mexico.
He was even featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” But in January of 2012, police arrested Holland in Tijuana, Mexico.
On Wednesday, prosecutors recapped the state’s case against Holland. The former pastor who was known to his United Faith Church congregation as “Reverend Otis,” is facing life in prison on charges that he abused girls as young as seven dating as far back as 2008.
Investigators alleged the 59-year-old often told the girls the abuse was “counseling.”
“She thought it was part of counseling, and on that basis, she submitted to his behavior, but remember, submission is not the same as consent,” said Matthew Rashbrook, a state prosecutor.
Prosecutors made sure the jury saw how each testimony connected with each count.
The defense took a different route, saying the girls were essentially making everything up. When Holland’s attorney presented his closing argument, he said the victims concocted the stories of abuse out of jealousy of Holland’s adult relationships.
“So whenever these events happen, there were only two people that were actual eye witnesses — if what they say was true,” said Carmine Colucci, Holland’s defense attorney.
Holland took the stand in his trial. During his testimony last week, Holland claimed the accusations were false.
Holland’s Defense Attorney: “Did you force yourself upon her?”
Holland: “No I didn’t, and I want a lie detector test?”
Prosecuting Attorney: “Objection Your Honor. May we approach?” Holland: “I want them to know the truth.”
The trial has gone on for a little over two weeks. Jury deliberations will continue Thursday.