A local pastor arrested last year has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a congregation member and been barred from practicing ministry while on probation.
Larry Marshall Murrell, 63, pleaded guilty Oct. 10 to two misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to three years of probation and 30 days in jail with credit for time served. A felony count of second-degree sexual abuse was dismissed as part of a plea deal. He otherwise faced up to five years in prison.
Under the terms of sentencing, Murrell may no longer “work, volunteer or act in any capacity as a minister, pastor or counselor during probation,” according to his plea agreement. Murrell may also have no contact with minors or frequent places where minors gather, must register as a sex offender and enroll in sex offender treatment, and must pay for any counseling costs incurred by the victim.
Murrell was arrested Oct. 7, 2015, for forcing “deviate sexual intercourse” on a female victim Feb. 6, 2015. At the time Murrell was the long-serving pastor of the House of Prayer for All Nations church in Klamath Falls, where the victim had been attending.
While waiting trial, Murrell was ordered to have no contact with congregation members but this was not a condition of his probation.
Because of Murrell’s position as pastor in relation to the victim, his actions were considered a violation of public trust under Oregon law and more damaging to the victim than they may have been otherwise. Prosecutors were allowed to use these as enhancement factors during sentencing.
Prior to changing his plea, Murrell argued the encounter with the victim, though sexual in nature, was not predatory and occurred with consent. In letters to Judge Dan Bunch, Murrell argued he was coerced into performing sexual acts with the victim and said the encounter was “not totally my idea.”