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Former pastor gets six years in prison in molestation case

James Daley

(Buy Daily photos)

By Joe Beck

The former pastor of a church in Shenandoah County has been sentenced in Page County to six years in prison on child molestation charges.

Judge Bruce Albertson imposed the sentence on James Daley, 72, of Luray. Daley was also sentenced to five years probation. The sentence included a total of 18 years in prison, 12 of which were suspended.

Daley's offenses -- one count of aggravated sexual battery to a child less than 13 years old and five counts of indecent liberties with a child-- carried a sentence that could have gone as high as 45 years.

Daley committed the crimes while he was pastor at Beth Eden Lutheran Church in Luray. He and his wife Margaret operated a day care center from their Luray home that was linked to James Daley's offenses.

James Daley spent several years in the 1980s as pastor at the Lebanon Lutheran Church in Lebanon Church.

Page County Commonwealth's Attorney Kenneth Alger II said in an interview Tuesday that he made no sentencing recommendation under a plea agreement reached with James Daley in late June.

"The judge gave it to him," Alger said of the sentence. "We had no agreement on sentencing. I wasn't going to give him an agreement on sentencing."

Authorities arrested James Daley in July 2013 after the Luray Police Department received a report of possible child abuse connected to the day care center. Authorities heard about "numerous allegations of sexual abuse" during the investigation, according to court documents.

James Daley admitted to the accusations during an interview with law enforcement officials.

The court case involved only one victim, although Alger has said that the investigation encompassed several others.

Margaret Daley is scheduled go on trial Sept. 23 in Page County Circuit Court on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency minor. The case is a product of the same investigation that led to James Daley's arrest.

A related felony charge against Margaret Daley was dropped after Albertson ruled that the section of the law under which she was charged is vague, unenforceable and unconstitutional.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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