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Ex-pastor pleads guilty to sex abuse case

A man accused of sexually abusing a family member about 25 years ago is set for sentencing in October after recently reaching a plea deal.

Christopher Mark Winnell, of Ripley, entered a Kennedy-Frazier plea to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. In this plea, a person maintains innocence but concedes there is enough evidence to convict. The state dismissed Winnell’s other 10 counts.

Winnell, a former pastor, could face one to five years in prison on each charge and a $10,000 fine.

Assistant Special Prosecutor Jennifer Gordon said the evidence the state would present if the case were to go to trial is that when the victim was about 8 or 9 years old, Winnell inappropriately touched the victim and had the victim inappropriately touch him. This continued until the victim was 11, Gordon said.

Gordon was moved over from the Kanawha prosecutor’s office in June to assist Chief Special Prosecutor Don Morris. Bloom appointed Morris and other special prosecutors to handle certain cases involving children in light of Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants’ misdemeanor charges.

In Friday’s hearing, which originally was set to be a pretrial hearing, Gordon also asked the court to revoke Winnell’s post conviction bond. However, Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib ordered Winnell to continue to be on home confinement.

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