A 72-year-old Big Spring man who served as youth minister at a local church pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child in 118th District Court last week and accepted a 25-year sentence in a state jail facility.
Samuel Lee Lyte, 72, formerly of 1811 S. Lancaster, was indicted in November on charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child (first-degree felony), aggravated sexual abuse of a child (first-degree felony), indecency with a child (two counts, both second-degree felonies) and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence (third-degree felony).
William Vaughn, pastor of Mt. Bethel Church, confirmed Lyte met the 13-year-old victim after he was hired by the church in 2010 as a youth minister.
“Mr. Lyte was given the position of youth minister in 2010. However, in either January or February of 2011 I released him from that position,” Vaughn said.
According to Vaughn, the Big Spring man was released after the alleged victim's father approached him with a letter written by his daughter meant for Lyte.
“The letter was not of a sexual nature, but it was inappropriate. That's when I released him from the position of youth minister,” Vaughn said. “In the letter, the girl referred to Lyte as the 'king on her throne.' I asked him (Lyte) not to attend the church, but there's really no way to bar someone.”
According to Howard County District Attorney Hardy Wilkerson, the plea agreement was agreed upon by the victim's family.
“Before we moved forward with any plea agreement we talked to the family to see what they were comfortable with,” Wilkerson said. “This was a case where the victim was extremely reluctant to testify and there was also Lyte's age to take into consideration. Effectively, any sentence was likely to be a life sentence for him. However, this case wasn't just about Mr. Lyte. It was also about demonstrating to the community the consequences of such behavior and I feel like we accomplished that.”
Vaughn confirmed Lyte had moved from the Milwaukee, Wis., area before joining Mt. Bethel Baptist Church. The pastor also confirmed no background check was performed before he assigned the duties of youth minister to Lyte.
The district attorney's office also accepted a plea agreement this week from Bobby Harold Davis, 38, currently being held at the Howard County Detention Center.
Davis was indicted by a Howard County grand jury in November on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance.
According to Wilkerson, Davis pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of a controlled substance in exchange for a 7-year sentence. The case had been set to go to trial this week, with jury selection scheduled to begin Tuesday morning. The jury was cancelled, according to officials with the 118th District Court.