Courts & Crime

Baptist priest in California convicted of molesting five girls

The trial came down to the word of a Baptist preacher who castigated as liars the troubled little girls who called him a child molester.

In the end, after nearly four days of deliberations, a Sacramento Superior Court jury compared his testimony against theirs and came down clear and strong Thursday about who had credibility and who didn't.

On 11 of 12 counts, the jury said they believed the girls about what happened in the home of Tommy Gene Daniels. Now, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rio Linda is looking at spending 165 years to life in prison.

"Because of the complexity of the case, we had to make sure it wasn't collusion on the part of the girls," said an 81-year-old juror who gave his name as Roy. "A couple of them were sisters. We knew they did talk among themselves, and we had to decide, did they get together and try to make the stories all the same?

"We figured no," Roy said.

Daniels, 49, who was booked into the downtown jail exactly one year ago today for the sex crimes that took place six to eight years ago in his Citrus Heights home, sat impassively while the jury's guilty verdicts were read.

The mother of one of the victims wept softly when the jury came back with its decision on the first count. It involved her daughter – now 12, then 5.

The girl told jurors Daniels crept into the bedroom of his Wapiti Place residence where she slept, and twice touched her in her private areas. Her working parents had left the girl there in the baby-sitting care of Daniels' wife.

The mother of the girl declined to talk to reporters in the hallway outside court.

A few feet away, Daniels' wife, Brenda, sobbed in the arms of a supporter. She also declined an interview.

While the first victim had been placed in the house for day care, the other four were referred to in court as "respite kids." They all had been adopted, and all had behavioral issues, including a propensity to lie.

Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Macy said in her closing argument that Daniels played off the questions about their believability to target them as his molestation victims.

To read the complete article, visit