By Alyssa Schnugg
A pastor pleaded guilty Monday to touching a child for lustful purposes 38 years ago, avoiding prison time; however, he will forever be listed as a sex offender.
Wade Holland, of Corinth, stood with Oxford attorney Ray Garrett before Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Gray Tollison on Monday and told the judge he understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty and that he was pleading guilty because he was “guilty of the charge.”
Holland, 60, was sentenced to five years in prison; however, the sentence was suspended and he will be on unsupervised probation for five years. He must immediately register as a sex offender and pay $50 a month toward fines and court fees for the duration of his probation.
According to court records, Holland touched a 17-year-old girl around May 1988 for lustful purposes.
The victim, Judy Riddell, made a victim impact statement after Holland pleaded guilty and before he was sentenced.
Riddell, who gave Hotty Toddy News permission to use her name in this story, said Holland was the youth pastor at First United Methodist Church in Corinth for a brief time before being appointed as director of the Wesley Foundation at Ole Miss in Oxford.
“At that time, he was counseling me during my parents’ divorce,” Riddell said on the stand. “He molested me, sexually assaulted me and attempted to rape me.”
Riddell said she did not go to the police after the attack but that she and her family told another pastor and that Holland admitted the assault at that time and wrote Riddell an apology letter, that was saved for 38 years by her mother.
“We heard he got into trouble with the church for molesting another girl from Delta State University,” Riddell said. “We went to the Bishop…and we were successful in getting him removed as Methodist clergy. Even though I knew he was told not to be involved in pastoral activities, he guest preached at Taylor Methodist Church and other things he shouldn’t have been doing.”
Riddell said she decided to come forward with criminal charges after reading that Holland and his wife, Ginger, had built and were running the Crossroads Prayer Retreat in Michie, Tennessee and when another pastor in town mentioned he knew of two other victims of Holland’s.
“I thought having him removed (as clergy) would protect people,” Riddell said. “I realized it was going to be my responsibility.”
In January of this year, Riddell went to speak to Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Kilpatrick where she learned there was no statute of limitations for child molestation cases.
Riddell said after the news of Holland’s arrest became public, another woman claiming to be a victim of Holland contacted the DA’s office, as well as the roommates of another victim.
“They were all willing to testify to help my case,” she said.
Holland did not make any statements during the plea hearing other than to answer Judge Tollison’s questions.