Prosecutors: Former Harvest Bible Chapel youth minister repeatedly asked about underwear, sleepover
Kane County prosecutors rested their case Tuesday against a former Harvest Bible Chapel youth minister accused of child sex exploitation of a teen he was mentoring.
Paxton Singer, 25, of Sugar Grove, is charged with enticing a minor to remove clothing for his own sexual gratification and misdemeanor disorderly conduct in that he asked the minor, then 16, if he masturbates and if he could spend the night at his home.
Singer, who was charged in October 2018, is accused of making the requests via text messages to the teen from February 2017 through August 2017, according to court records and testimony before Judge Michael Noland.
On Tuesday, the teen testified he met Singer at a Harvest Bible retreat in summer 2016 as he was preparing to enter his freshmen year of high school. The teen testified he and Singer hung out, went to see "Justice League" and texted often.
In February 2017, Singer texted the teen that he had a "weird and a little creepy question" about what type of underwear he preferred.
The teen replied and Singer texted back that he was just "curious."
In August 2017, Singer again asked the teen about underwear. "Can I see? I'm confused," Singer texted, later asking if he could see them on the teen.
The teen testified he eventually took a photo of his underwear on the floor to show Singer. "I was a little weirded out because I didn't feel comfortable doing that (taking a photo of himself in underwear)," the teen testified.
The boy's father testified he became alarmed and objected in November 2017 when Singer asked that the boy sleep at Singer's house.
The father called Singer and later cut off contact with him. "I felt very uncomfortable about it," the father testified. "That was like the last straw for me, after the request for a sleepover."
Singer's defense attorneys have argued Singer never asked the teen to take off any clothing and if the teen's parents were alarmed and disturbed they should have immediately called police instead of waiting until January 2018 to tell Harvest officials.
Defense attorney Terry Ekl said he will make a motion for a directed verdict of not guilty, which basically argues that even when the evidence is seen in its most favorable light, it is still insufficient to prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The two sides will argue that motion on Sept. 24. If Noland grants the motion, the case is over and Singer is not guilty. If Noland denies the motion, Singer's attorneys will present their defense.
If convicted, Singer faces a sentence ranging from probation to up to 364 days in jail.