Update: Minister found guilty in rape trial gets 40 years without parole

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UPDATE 5/19/16 @ 11:30 a.m.
JACKSON, Ohio (WSAZ) --A former pastor has been ruled a violent sexual predator and now faces 40 years to life in prison without parole after being convicted of more than a dozen sex charges earlier this week.

A jury found Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, guilty on seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and three counts of gross sexual imposition.

The victims were a teenage girl, a mentally challenged adult woman and 10–year-old relative.

Thursday morning Wright was sentenced during a hearing in Jackson County Common Pleas court.

Prior to sentencing, prosecutors said Wright has spent his life terrorizing the victims and should "remain in prison until he dies".

One of the victims also spoke prior to sentencing, saying that when she went out she was always looking over her shoulder and that he (Wright) ruined her life and that God will also pronounce sentence upon him.

Wright addressed the judge saying he was innocent of the charges and was not able to prepare a proper defense. As a result he plans to plans to appeal.

He also said because of his heart condition he wouldn't live long and that he loved his wife and wanted to hold her.

The Judge told Wright this is a serious crime and Wright has made no statement showing genuine remorse. "You stole part of their life. You have stolen their childhood all for your own sexual pleasure"

If Wright would get out of prison, he would be required to register as a lifetime sex offender.



UPDATE 5/16/16 @ 3:40 p.m.
JACKSON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A minister was found guilty of more than a dozen sex related charges in Jackson County, Ohio.

A jury found Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, guilty of seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual batter, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and three counts of gross sexual imposition.

He was found not guilty of one count of illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material.

The jury deliberated for about three and a half hours before reaching a verdict.

Wright will be sentenced Thursday.



UPDATE 5/16/16 @ 11:40 a.m.
JACKSON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Jury deliberations are underway in the trial of a minister charged with rape and various other sex charges.

Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, is on trial in Jackson County Common Pleas Court on seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Court officials tell WSAZ the jury got the case about 11:15 Monday morning.

Last week, Wright took the stand in his own defense.

Wright was most recently a pastor to a small congregation at a church on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill.

According to the indictment, this is where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

The alleged crimes with the first victim happened from 1989-1990.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.



UPDATE 5/13/16 @ 1:45 p.m.
JACKSON, Ohio (WSAZ) – Court officials tell WSAZ.com that due to “technical difficulties," closing arguments in the trial of a minister charged with rape have been continued until Monday.

Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, is on trial in Jackson County Common Pleas Court on seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Closing arguments were expected to begin Friday morning at 10 a.m. Court officials did not give a reason for the delay.

Thursday afternoon, Wright took the stand in his own defense.

Wright was most recently a pastor to a small congregation at a church on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill.

According to the indictment, this is where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

The alleged crimes with the first victim happened from 1989-1990.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

Keep clicking on WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/13/16 @ 9:25 a.m.
JACKSON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Closing arguments are set to begin Friday morning in the trial of a minister charged with rape and other sex charges.

Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, is on trial in Jackson County Common Pleas Court on seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Thursday afternoon, Wright took the stand in his own defense.

Wright was most recently a pastor to a small congregation at a church on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill.

According to the indictment, this is where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

The alleged crimes with the first victim happened from 1989-1990.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

Keep clicking on WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/11/16 @ 10:30 a.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The first witness has been called to the stand in the trial against a minister charged in a sexual assault case.

Dennis Wright, of Oak Hill, was indicted earlier this year on seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Jury selection in the case started Monday.

Opening statements were made Wednesday morning prior to the first witness being called.

Wright most recently was a pastor to a small congregation at a church on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill. According to the indictment, this is where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

The alleged crimes with the first victim happened from 1989-1990.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

The trial is expected to last at least a week.



UPDATE 5/9/16 @ 9:22 a.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Jury selection is underway in the trial of a minister charged in a sexual assault case.

Dennis Wright, of Oak Hill, was indicted earlier this year on seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Wright most recently was a pastor to a small congregation at a church on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill. According to the indictment, this is where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

The alleged crimes with the first victim happened from 1989-1990.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

The trial is expected to last at least a week.



UPDATE 3/1/16
JACKSON COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Bond has been set at $500,000 for a minister from Jackson County, Ohio who was indicted on 15 charges related to the sexual assaults of three people.

Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill was indicted last week.

Wright is charged with seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.

Wright most recently was a pastor to a small congregation at a church on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill. According to the indictment, this is where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

The alleged crimes with the first victim happened from 1989-1990.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

Wright was arraigned on the charges on Tuesday. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims or minor children.

A trial date has been set for May 9.

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 2/23/16 @ 10:50 a.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The wife of a minister, charged with more than a dozen counts in a sexual assault case, is speaking out.

Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, is charged with 15 counts related to the sexual assaults of two juveniles and an adult, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office. One of the juveniles, and the adult, were parishioners of his church.

Wright most recently worked as a minister to a small congregation on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

Monday evening, Wright's wife of 45 years, Diana, spoke with a Columbus news station, saying her husband is a good man, who lives for the lord. She was very emotional and said she never suspected anything like this.

Diana says Dennis stopped preaching about a year ago.

The investigation, which was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), also uncovered a third victim who was 10 years old when Wright allegedly attacked the child between 1989 and 1990.

"This defendant used his position of authority to target vulnerable victims who placed their trust in him," said Attorney General DeWine. "The investigation has also led us to believe that there could be even more victims, and I urge anyone with additional information to come forward."

Wright is charged with seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance. Eight of the charges filed against Wright include a sexually violent predator specification, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

A court date has not been set for Wright.



ORIGINAL STORY 2/22/16
JACKSON COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A minister from Jackson County, Ohio has been indicted on 15 felony charges related to the sexual assaults of two juveniles and an adult.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office says Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, is charged with seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.

Wright most recently worked as a minister to a small congregation on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners.

Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.

"This defendant used his position of authority to target vulnerable victims who placed their trust in him," said Attorney General Mike DeWine. "The investigation has also led us to believe that there could be even more victims, and I urge anyone with additional information to come forward."

"Today's arrest is the result of the collaborative efforts of local and state authorities," said Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier. "We take these allegations very seriously, and those who prey on innocent residents of Jackson County will be held accountable."

The investigation, which was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), also uncovered a third victim who was 10 years old when Wright allegedly attacked the child between 1989 and 1990.