Times Staff Writer
LARGO — Scott Dewayne Wright was a youth pastor who said he wanted to lead young people to the Lord.
But on Tuesday he admitted to abusing one of the teenagers he was purporting to help.
Scott Dewayne Wright, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a 16-year-old girl in her Palm Harbor home. He was sentenced to more than four years in prison, followed by six years of registered sex offender probation.
Wright was arrested this year and accused of penetrating the girl with his fingers. A married father of four, he had met the girl in 2007 when he was a youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Worship Center in New Port Richey.
Her parents appeared in court on Tuesday, and said afterward they were satisfied with the sentence.
"There's no chance he will be involved with youth at a church again,'' her father said. "That was one of our biggest concerns."
The fact that Wright was a trusted church leader made the ordeal even more difficult for the family, he said. "You can never be too careful."
The girl is not being named because of the nature of the offense.
Wright projected the image of a caring pastor. In a 2005 St. Petersburg Times article about a youth group event, Wright was quoted as saying teens needed to stop using gossip, profanity and sexual comments.
"We need to change what's cool and what's not," Wright said then. "What's cool needs to be based upon the word of God."
On Tuesday, Wright was sentenced to 491/2 months in prison, minus the time he has spent in the Pinellas County Jail. He also must serve six years probation with a requirement to enter a sex offender treatment program.
He will be barred from living near a school or other location where children are present. When he gets out of prison, he will face restrictions on where he can work and whether he will be allowed to use the Internet.
His attorney asked if Wright can have permission in the future to have unsupervised contact with his own children. The judge said only if a formal evaluation concludes it is safe for him to do so.
Staff Writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected]times.com or (727) 893-8232.