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Pastor cleared of charges

The pastor of a Suffolk church was cleared of charges of rape and indecent liberties in a hearing in a Portsmouth courtroom Thursday.

Trevon Boone, 39, was arrested in May and charged after a woman reported he had raped her when she was 17. Boone was a youth pastor at downtown’s New Mount Joy Food For Living Ministries before being installed as the pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Outreach Center on Nansemond Parkway around the time of the alleged incident.

Prosecutor Sean Harris said at the beginning of the hearing that the charge of rape would not be prosecuted because “the sex involved may have been more consensual than we originally thought.”

The woman, who is now 19, maintained on the stand that she was raped.

She said she has known Boone since she was a baby and that the two are “cousins by marriage.”

The woman’s mother testified that she asked Boone in 2012 to talk to her daughter, because her daughter was getting into trouble with boys. At some point, it came up that Boone should take her out to “show her how a man is supposed to treat a lady,” Harris said.

Sometime in November of that year, according to the daughter, Boone picked her up at her mother’s house, and they went to dinner at a restaurant. After they left the restaurant, it was late, so the two called the young woman’s mother to ask permission for the teen to stay at Boone’s home in Portsmouth.

The mother testified she thought it was OK, because he was family and in the ministry.

The teenager testified she went to sleep in Boone’s bed while he slept in the living room. Sometime during the night, she said, she woke up to find Boone standing naked beside the bed. He proceeded to get into the bed and have sex with her, she testified, as she cried and tried to push him off.

Boone did not testify during his trial, but he maintains in a phone conversation with the teen’s mother, recorded by the young woman, that the sex was consensual.

Asked during the recorded conversation if he was remorseful about it, Boone replies, “Yes, very much so, very much so.”

Harris, the prosecutor, and defense attorney Michael Massie said there was evidence uncovered after the charges — specifically text messages, Massie said — that the sex was consensual, therefore the prosecutor moved not to prosecute the rape charge.

After the trial, Judge Kenneth R. Melvin dismissed the charge of indecent liberties with a minor by a person in a custodial or supervisory relationship.

He denied a motion to strike the charge based on Massie’s contention that there was no supervisory relationship, after a good deal of wrangling over different pieces of case law that supported both sides.

However, Melvin was hung up on a criterion in the code section that requires “lascivious intent” for the charge to stick.

If it was consensual, there could have been no lascivious intent, he reasoned.

Boone’s family and friends celebrated as they walked down the courthouse hallway. Boone, leaving with his wife, whom he married in January 2013, declined comment to a reporter after the trial.