CROWN POINT | A former East Chicago pastor was sentenced Wednesday to a year of probation for stalking an underage girl.
The Rev. Chester Mulligan, 44, pleaded guilty to felony stalking in return for Lake County prosecutors dropping two counts of felony sexual misconduct that were pending against him, Lake Criminal Court records state. Details of the plea agreement were not immediately available.
Mulligan originally was accused of having sex multiple times with a then 14-year-old girl, court records state. The alleged incidents occurred from 1997 and continued to 2001, court documents stated. He ministered during that time at the Central Baptist Church in East Chicago.
Mulligan resigned from Central Baptist in December 2001.
Court records allege Mulligan first tried to have intercourse with the girl in his house in East Chicago. He stopped when she said it hurt, prosecutors said. But throughout the next two years, according to court records, he had sex with her several times at his house, the church office and baptistry, prosecutors alleged.
When the girl wanted to end the relationship, Mulligan threatened to "start using her sister," prosecutors said. The girl's sister told investigators she was fondled by Mulligan when she was the front-seat passenger in a car he drove from a Kentucky wedding in August 2000, prosecutors said.
Deputy prosecutor Mary Ryan said the victim has been incredibly patient and is ready to move on with her life.
"But I can honestly say it is not how she would like it to have been resolved," Ryan said of the plea agreement.
Defense attorney Nick Thiros said Mulligan and the victim reached a settlement in a separate civil proceeding.
"The defendant is no longer in the area," Thiros added. "The chances (of any contact between the two) are remote if not totally impossible."
When asked what impact Mulligan's conviction will have on his job as a pastor, Thiros said, "probably none."
Mulligan declined comment and did not offer a statement during his sentencing.