February 22, 2021
Mary Schenk
News Gazette

URBANA — A former youth minister at a Champaign church who admitted repeatedly having sex with an underage teen parishioner faces up to 23 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Roger VanRaden, 49, whose last known address was on County Road 2900 North in rural Rantoul, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of criminal sexual assault for having sex with a teenage girl who was in his congregation.

In a plea agreement negotiated by Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Lozar and Urbana attorney Evan Bruno, the state dismissed another count of criminal sexual assault and one of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving the same victim.

VanRaden could have faced as many as 30 years on the two counts, but Lozar agreed to cap his sentencing recommendation at 23.

The charges had been filed in December 2019 against VanRaden for sexual activity that happened while he was an assistant pastor and youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church, 4601 N. Market St., C.
The victim was 18 when she revealed that she had been having sex with VanRaden for about five years, beginning in 2015.

Judge Roger Webber accepted the negotiated plea and will sentence VanRaden, who remains free on bond, on April 8.

Whatever sentence Webber imposes, VanRaden will be required to serve 85 percent of it and to register as a sex offender for life.

Not long after the victim came forward, VanRaden confessed to Champaign County sheriff’s investigator Dwayne Roelfs that he had had sex with the girl and knew it was wrong. Although the girl was not physically forced to participate, Roelfs said VanRaden manipulated her through trust and control, and she was not old enough to consent. Much of the sexual contact occurred at the church, Roelfs said.

Bruno confirmed that his client is “no longer in a position of leadership at any church.”

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