A former elder in the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination has been sentenced for committing a lewd act upon a child. The man, Michael Norris, lived in Quepos from 2006 until he recently flew back to California to face a warrant for his arrest in Santa Barbara.
According to the criminal division of the Santa Barbara Superior Court, Norris was sentenced to three years in Wasco State Prison in California last week. Through a plea agreement in which he must register as a sex offender, the 69-year-old man was charged by the district attorney with just one count.
The criminal trial received a great deal of attention from concerned advocacy groups. Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses deals specifically with giving basic rights and monitoring common transgressions among members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community.
President Lee Marsh said that the legally incorporated organization will be keeping close tabs on Norris, even if he possibly returns to Costa Rica upon his release.
“We will not forget about him, and as soon as Norris is out we will do what we can to limit his preaching activities where ever he chooses to reside,” Ms. Marsh said via email correspondence. “What we know is that the Jehovah’s Witness elders are under orders not to disclose to anyone that a person in the congregation is a convicted and registered sex offender.”
Messages left for Ben Ladinig, the deputy district attorney that was involved with the case, were not returned by Thursday night. A representative from Santa Barbara court’s criminal division said Norris must serve the full term of three years.