A former pastor of Tower of Power Church in Steubenville has been convicted of sex charges.

Everett Mitchell was sentenced and will spend 2 years in the penitentiary, followed by 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to all seven counts of sexual battery and imposition.

Mitchell will be required to register as a sex offender for life, and be under 5-year, post-release control.

The victim, now 26 years old, was only 12 when the abuse began in 2006 through 2010 in Mitchell’s home, where she also lived.

The victim said she had to live with the shame guilt and humiliation caused by Everett’s actions while he was constantly supported and esteemed in and out of the public eye.

The victim released a statement:

“Justice for me has been a long process. I truly want to thank everyone affiliated and associated with my case. I am grateful justice was served today.

The sexual abuse through abuse of power I endured at the hands of Everett Mitchell has affected every aspect of my life. This man has been the cause of physical, social, emotional, and mental trauma. This type of injury doesn’t just go away –especially at the hands of someone that I had trusted and considered to be family. Even after years of therapy, I still re-live those moments often. The moments of fear, helplessness, isolation, entrapment, and abandonment. This has weighed heavily on my physical health causing headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues and other ailments. I get panic attacks because of what I went through. Many times, I am brought back to the same place by certain smells, sounds, and phrases, and I am unable to control flashbacks and my emotional responses. I spent years uncomfortable in my own skin and hating myself for what he put me through. My self-esteem was utterly shattered and my own identity stolen from me. I deal with night terrors. My stress level increases when I have to be with a group of people. I am withdrawn and isolated in social settings. What Everett did to me affects my parenting style. I am overprotective and paranoid when it comes to my children. I live with continual fear that something bad will happen to them. I panic after I drop them off at daycare and school until they are safely home with me. This anxiety affects how I relate with my parents, siblings, other relatives and friends. In my mind, everyone is a potential predator. I have relatively no trust in others.

I detest the thought of going to church because the place where I went to seek safety, security, and healing, was the place of my very pain. The fact that he used scripture to justify his very own deviant and perverse conduct is what keeps me from establishing a religious foundation. The times when he was supposed to be praying for me, he was assaulting me. I was forced to walk with my head down because he wanted power over my body, my will, and my spirit. Through his web of lies, he worked hard to control the narrative of public opinion and silence me –labeling me as “fast”, “Jezebel”, vindictive, money hungry, and “crazy”. This controlled how others treated me and eventually controlled my own behavior. Through my silence, he was able to over talk and overshadow me, mistakenly believing, the volume of his voice increased the validity of his argument.

I have heard lots of anger, read words of aggression, and seen faces full of tears and much prayer being given, not for me and what I’ve been through, but for my perpetrator – the man who silenced me, abused me, and had gotten sexual gratification from a child. Videos were posted and comments made not listen to the victim because it threatened to ruin the reputation and image of Pastor Everett Mitchell. Can you even begin to fathom how painful it is for people to blame me for tearing Everett’s family apart instead of holding him accountable for his own terrible actions? It feels pretty awful to be devalued, degraded, re-victimized, victim blamed and shamed to make this man appear upstanding, disciplined, and above reproach. I had to live with the shame, guilt, and humiliation caused by Everett’s actions while he was constantly supported, lauded, and esteemed in and out of the public eye.

Because I have a true heart for children, I want other girls to know sexual abuse is not your fault, no matter what your perpetrator has told you. You are not alone. I strongly encourage women, who were girls when this happened to you, to speak out, go to the police, and seek justice. It is going to be hard, but it will be worth it. To the community, I say listen and think before you speak. Be well informed before commenting. Under the veil of being a pastor, a man of power, and an upstanding man, Everett gained access to sexually abuse me without questions, advocacy, or hesitation from those that witnessed an inappropriate relationship between a child and an adult. Education concerning sexual abuse is a community responsibility. It is the responsibility of the community to become aware of the tactics of sexual predators. Every organization, especially churches, should address abuse of power and sexual abuse as opposed to concealing it. This “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” policy creates an environment that fosters and conceals individuals engaging in this behavior, such as Everett Mitchell. It promotes an unhealthy power dynamic and defense for perpetrators. I encourage mandated reporters in all walks of life to report suspected child abuse and unhealthy child-adult relationships. This can save a lot of children pain and suffering in the present and long-term.”