COGIC pastor sentenced to 6 years in prison for sex charges - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

COGIC pastor sentenced to 6 years in prison for sex charges

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Michael Bryant is charged with sexual battery by an authority. Michael Bryant is charged with sexual battery by an authority.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A COGIC pastor was sentenced to six years in prison on sexual battery charges on Thursday.

Michael Bryant, the former pastor of Hour of Restoration COGIC, admitted to inappropriately touching and exposing himself to a 16-year-old over the past two years.

"It was a lustful situation that basically overwhelmed me," Bryant testified during Wednesday's hearing. "Never happened to me before."

Bryant pleaded guilty to the charges. He asked Criminal Court Judge Mark Ward to spare him prison time.

"I was embarrassed. I felt bad. I really didn't feel right preaching every Sunday knowing what I was doing," said Bryant. "I want probation so I can go out and get help and be able to work at the same time. I want to live. I want to live."

As part of his argument to stay out jail, longtime friends testified on his behalf.

"I know Michael well. He's normally talkative. He couldn't look at me. I know he's remorseful. And I know he's ashamed," said his friend, Debbie Bryant.

Bryant, 48, was arrested December 18, 2013. He has been in the Shelby County Jail on $1 million bond ever since.

Shelby County sheriff's investigators say the teen victim told her mother about the abuse. According to the affidavit of complaint, Bryant her mother decided that instead of telling anyone "they would pray that the lord would remove these thoughts from his head."

No one else was charged in this case.

Judge Ward accepted the plea agreement, but he did not grant probation. He called Bryant's testimony "self serving" and "evasive."

According to Art Horne, Bryant's defense attorney, Bryant will be eligible for probation in about two years.

"I'm not surprised," said Horne. "It's a serious offense."

Bryant will have to register as a convicted sex offender. He testified he plans to seek counseling.

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