Former Sunday school teacher gets 99 years for child sex abuse

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 4:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2022 at 4:51 PM CDT
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WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - A Deatsville man who used to teach Sunday school will spend the rest of his life in prison for his second child sex abuse conviction.

Leon Albert Prince, 78, was found guilty Wednesday of sexually abusing a child less than 12 years old. Thursday morning, Circuit Judge Bill Lewis sentenced him to 99 years in state prison.

Elmore County Chief Deputy District Attorney C.J. Robinson said Prince asked the court for leniency, saying he is a veteran with only a few months to live due to his deteriorating health.

“I do hate that he has a terminal illness. I don’t wish that on anyone. But you still got to answer for what you’ve done,” Robinson said.

The conviction stems from an incident that happened sometime in 2010 or 2011. Prosecutors say the victim did not report it until recently, which led to an indictment in January.

At the time, Prince was out of prison from a 1991 conviction on what was at the time called carnal knowledge of a child under 12. He had served 15 years of a 30-year sentence.

The victim in that case, who has spoken publicly, said Prince “raped and molested and tortured” her in 1972 when she was 7 years old. She came forward 20 years later and testified against Prince in court.

The 1991 trial sparked national attention and brought out others who said Prince abused them, although Allison Black Cornelius was the only one who sought charges until this year.

Cornelius and prosecutors say Prince used religious settings and volunteer opportunities to target young people. Robinson said he created similar opportunities upon his release from prison the first time.

“I understand departments of pardons and paroles. I understand some of the things they have to take into account. But clearly he got out early on 30-year sentence and in no time sexually abused this child with almost the exact same identical set of circumstances and factors, manipulating people in and around through like a religious setting,” Robinson said.

“I get he’s old, I get he’s sick, but he’s going to prison and he’ll die there, and he should. That may sound harsh but at the same time I don’t think that there’s anything out there in this world that can excuse or mitigate sexually abusing children over and over again,” he said.

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