A former Jackson County, Ohio pastor will spend the rest of his life, behind bars.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier announced Thursday that Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, will spend the rest of his life in prison for sexually assaulting two juveniles and an adult whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired. Two of the victims were parishioners.
Following a jury trial in Jackson County this week, jurors found Wright guilty of seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and three counts of gross sexual imposition.
Thursday morning, Jackson County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Regan sentenced Wright, who most recently worked as a minister to a small congregation on Ohio 279 outside of Oak Hill, to life in prison. The defendant was also found to be a sexually violent predator and classified as a Tier III sex offender. Wright’s first parole eligibility will be in 44.5 years.
“Dennis Wright abused his position of trust. This sentence ensures that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, because he will not be eligible for parole until he is well over 100 years old,” DeWine said.
Wright was indicted on the charges in February after an investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) found that the defendant sexually assaulted an adult parishioner and a juvenile parishioner. While investigating the case, authorities uncovered a third victim who, as a child, had also been sexually assaulted by Wright.
“Anyone who chooses to commit a crime of this nature in Jackson County will be investigated to the fullest,” Frazier said. “This case is an example of multiple organizations working together for the common goal of a safer community.”
The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section working as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Initiative.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.