Loudon County church youth leader pleads guilty to statutory rape, sentenced to 12 years

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LOUDON, Tenn. (WATE) — A former youth group leader at Bethany Baptist Church will serve 12 years in jail after accepting a plea deal.

Courtney Bingham, 36, pleaded guilty to four counts of statutory rape and sexual exploitation of a minor. In 2018, Bingham had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old member of the youth group.

“We are glad to get this resolved with the defendant admitting her wrongdoing,” 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson said. “Hopefully, this outcome will serve as a cautionary tale for others who are tempted to find themselves in similar situations. Part of the reason for pressing this case to trial, which resulted in what I consider to be a significant result for the state, was the difference in ages between the defendant and victim, the defendant’s position of trust in the church, and her prior multiple felony criminal history.”

According to the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, Bingham was sentenced to four years for each charge. The sexual exploitation of a minor charge and one of the statutory rape charges will be run concurrently with the three other charges running consecutively. She has to serve at least 35% of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

She will be on the sex offender registry for life and is subject to monitoring, including monitoring of her internet activities.

Assistant District Attorney General Alyson Kennedy was in charge of this case for Johnson’s office.

“I, too, am pleased that this case has resolved on the defendant’s guilty plea,” Kennedy said. “I hope that this result gives some much-needed closure to the victim and his family, as well as the community.”

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