NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 9:28 AM
Darren Paden admitted he sexually assaulted a young girl at least 200 times over a decade. Still, many in his Dearborn, Missouri town support him over the victim.
A small Missouri town is rallying in support of a convicted child molester — despite his confession of sexually abusing a girl at least 200 times over a decade.
The majority of residents in the tiny Dearborn town, which is home to fewer than 500 people, believe Darren Paden is innocent even as the 52-year-old former volunteer fire department chief was sentenced Friday to life in prison, the Kansas City Star reported.
Many have sided with Paden — a father of seven who also spent time with the Air National Guard — and shunned his now 18-year-old victim after her bombshell accusations rocked the neighborhood nearly three years ago.
“While this defendant admitted to his horrible crimes the day he was arrested, he continually delayed his day of reckoning,” Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said. “Sadly, during that time, many in the community sided with him, compounding the trauma experienced by his victim.”
“Now there can be no doubt: Darren Paden repeatedly committed monstrous acts against a young girl.”
Paden was charged in 2013 with repeatedly sexually abusing a child over a period of six to eight years, prosecutors said.
He admitted in August that he abused the girl once or twice a month from the time she was about 5-years-old until she became a teenager.
Paden said he watched pornographic movies with the victim, performed a sex act on her and forced her to do the same to him, according to authorities.
He told the girl it was “their little secret,” Zahnd said.
Paden admitted the girl “was, in fact, truthful” while pleading guilty during questioning by his criminal defense attorney, prosecutors said.
Still, several locals were convinced the victim was lying. They ostracized her for several years, she told the Star.
Many of the “monstrous acts” were committed in Paden’s home in Dearborn, Missouri, prosecutors said.
“Before this, there were people who would come up and talk to me and have conversations with me,” she said. “Now they won’t even look at me or talk to me.”
Sixteen people penned letters asking the judge to go easy on Paden. The defendant had the support of the town’s church elders, the former bank president and other leaders.
“Darren is one of the most admirable people I know,” friend Adele Brightwell wrote, according to the Star. “…He holds fast to his morals…”
Paden was sentenced to 50 years in prison on two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, bringing the heartbreaking case to a close.
“Those who may have believed the whispers of denial now know the truth,” Zahnd said. “Darren Paden preyed on a defenseless girl again and again. He deserves sympathy from no one.”