Bail for Pauling set at over $1 million in three sex crime cases involving minors
YUBA CITY, Calif. – Accused of having unlawful sex with two teen girls and committing illegal sex acts with another, anti-porn activist Donny Pauling appeared in Sutter County Superior Court, Friday.
According to statements made in open court by Deputy District Attorney Anu Chopra, Pauling, who is charged with nine felony counts and three misdemeanors, also attempted to indirectly coerce an alleged victim into not testifying.
According to local newspaper The Appeal-Democrat:
Chopra said she received a copy of [a] seven-page letter written by Pauling [to a friend of one of the victims] that described how the alleged victim could “make this all go away” by invoking Marsy’s law, which, in part, protects victims from being penalized by the courts for refusing to testify.
He also wrote the alleged victim wouldn’t have to admit she was lying, according to Chopra.
Judge Brian Aronson expressed concern over Pauling’s letter, written from jail to the teenage friend of one of his accusers. “I don’t think Pauling has let go of his belief that he can intimidate his way out of these cases,” said the judge, adding that Pauling is “not understanding boundaries very well.”
“My experience shows, as a defense attorney and a prosecutor, that teen girls are willing and able to fabricate allegations. They make horrible witnesses because they are not smart enough to present their lies as truth,” Marquez said.
District Attorney Amanda Hopper responded, “Sexual assault cases by their very sensitive and traumatic nature are examined very closely before any filing decisions are made. That includes looking at the veracity of any witness or victims as well as finding corroboration for their statements. My office has not taken this case or the filing decision lightly.”
Pauling has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and remains in custody at the Colusa County Jail. He will next appear in court on June 8, when the court will set the date for his jury trial.
An obsession with sex
A former low-end producer of soft and hardcore images, Pauling became (in his own words) “a Christian speaker [who] shares his story and the truth about the dangers of porn to churches and universities around the country.”
LISTEN: Pauling on WNGL Archangel Radio in August 2014.
As an associate of Gail Dines and Shelley Lubben, he preached regularly about what the alleges are the detrimental impacts of pornography on girls and women, and families. All three were featured speakers at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation 2014 Summit in May of last year.
However the numerous criminal charges filed against him suggest that he may have been a serial molester all the while.
Sex with minors
Pauling was arrested Dec. 1 by the Sutter County Sheriff on three felony sex charges, including Unlawful Intercourse (Statutory Rape), after a 16-year-old female told law enforcement that Pauling had ongoing sexual contact with her for the past three years.
“He was the caretaker of the child—they lived together in Shasta County, then moved to Yuba City [in 2012],” Chopra explained. During that time, she said, Pauling and the girl allegedly had a sexual relationship. She also alleged that he photographed the girl with other young girls in various poses.
According to detectives, the teen had first disclosed Pauling’s actions to both her mother and a friend Thanksgiving week. The Appeal-Democrat reports
She told detectives Pauling had told her that if she ever told officers about the relationship, she should tell him first so he could kill himself. She also said Pauling told her he wasn’t like other child molesters because he loved her.
Sutter County sheriff’s Detective Robert C. Brokenbrough, who has interviewed the teen three times since Nov. 30, testified that
Pauling first made inappropriate comments to the first victim about her lips and bottom. The comments turned into sexual acts, and Pauling first had sex with the girl in the summer of 2014. She said he used a condom until he had a vasectomy…. The girl told him that Pauling bought her lingerie — which detectives discovered in his bedroom — and photographed her in erotic and sexualized poses. She said Pauling uploaded the photos to Reddit.com. Deputy District Attorney Anu Chopra submitted 10 photos of the girl into evidence. Some of the photos included the girl posing topless, exposing her bottom, and some included other minors.
According to Brokenbrough, the teen told authorities that Donny Pauling had once video-recorded her in the shower, which she only realized after she discovered the hidden device. The detective also testified that there were additional witnesses.
He said a mother of a friend of the girl’s once saw a photo of the girl’s crotch on Pauling’s phone. And the girl’s ex-boyfriend disclosed that Pauling told him that Pauling had seen the girl’s vagina and urged the boy to date her.
On Dec. 17, Pauling claimed in a jailhouse interview that Sutter County Sheriff’s Captain Lewis McElfresh Jr. had urged him to have sex with another 16-year-old girl. Evidence of the second alleged victim was presented to Yuba City police by a man named Chase Hammonds. According to an officer’s declaration, Hammonds confronted McElfresh about the alleged incident, recorded the conversation and provided the recording to a Sutter County sheriff’s lieutenant.
On Dec. 18, the Appeal-Democrat reported, the Sutter County District Attorney charged McElfresh with five felonies: two counts of felony child molestation, willful child cruelty, burglary and misdemeanor charges of annoying or molesting a minor and indecent exposure. McElfresh is accused of masturbating while, allegedly, watching a minor being sexually violated by Pauling. McElfresh, is being held with bail set at $5 million.
According to statements made in open court on Jan 14, additional victims were identified in the criminal investigation of Pauling.
A second criminal case was filed against Pauling on Jan. 28. According to the Appeal-Democrat
Chopra filed a nine-count criminal complaint naming Pauling in [connection with McElfresh]. The charges alleged four incidents of unlawful sex with a minor…. Investigators are in the process of interviewing eight minor girls as potential victims of Pauling, according to a declaration filed by Sutter County sheriff’s Lt. James Casner. Some of those girls live in Glenn and Butte counties. Chopra said she will ask for a bail enhancement for Pauling, which, if granted, would increase his bail from $500,000 to $1 million.
The second criminal complaint against the anti-pornography activist includes eight sex crime-related counts — including several instances of sexual intercourse; oral copulation and penetration with a foreign object on a minor — as well as one charge of first-degree burglary.
A copy of the criminal complaint in the third sex crime case against Pauling was not available at press time.
On May 19, Judge Aronson heard testimony for two of the cases from law enforcement officers who conducted or examined interviews with the minor victims. After evidence was submitted to the court, Aronson ordered a trial for Pauling.
According to a published report:
Immediately after Donny Pauling had sex with a 16-year-old girl, he threatened to post nude photos of her online, kill her boyfriend and hurt her family if she told anyone, a sheriff’s detective testified Tuesday.
The girl later allegedly told Lewis McElfresh, then-Sutter County sheriff’s captain, she wanted to have sex with Pauling. McElfresh then watched the two have sex as he masturbated, an officer testified.
Testimony detailed the way Pauling approached the girls, who were friends with his minor relative, with whom he is also accused of having an ongoing sexual relationship.
During separate interviews, the girls told officers of Pauling’s actions, which included nude massages. One girl said she attended class at Yuba College with Pauling, he drove her home, and while they were studying together, he gave her root beer that made her feel weak and dizzy.
She alleged he took off her clothes and had sex with her, told her he took nude photos of her and threatened her.
She reported he had sex with her three more times.
McElfresh has pleaded not guilty to felony charges for his alleged role in one of the incidents and, like Pauling, is due back in court June 8.