Ex-New Hanover church youth leader faces alleged parole violation

NORRISTOWN – A former New Hanover church youth group leader who served jail time for having indecent contact with a teenage girl is back in jail for allegedly violating the conditions of his parole, according to court records.

David Benson Lewis, 28, formerly of the 2900 block of Reifsnyder Road, is accused of violating conditions of his parole and probationary period by “accessing the Internet without permission…accessing social media,” according to a violation notice filed in court by Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole officials.

Lewis also allegedly violated his parole by failing to have his employment approved by the probation department. Specifically, probation officials alleged Lewis “started a videography business against orders of the probation department,” according to court documents.

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Lewis, court records indicate, faces a Jan. 22 hearing on charges he violated his supervision. Court records indicate Lewis, who potentially faces additional jail time if the violations are proven, is currently in the county jail while awaiting his hearing.

In June 2009, Lewis, then 24, pleaded guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor in connection with incidents that occurred with a teenage girl between July and August of 2008 while he was a youth group leader at New Hanover United Methodist Church.

In November 2009, a judge sentenced Lewis to 30 days- to-23-months in the county jail, to be followed by five years’ probation, essentially placing Lewis under court supervision for about seven years.

Lewis apparently was serving his parole and probationary period when probation officials lodged the violations against him.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police Megan’s Law website, Lewis’ status is listed as “incarcerated” and his address has been the county jail in Lower Providence since October. However, the website indicates Lewis previously listed an employment address in Erie.

During the 2009 sentencing hearing it was apparent that Lewis’ crime had divided parishioners. At that time, the distraught girl, then 16, testified, “David has taken away my innocence and my purity. I don’t know my place in my church anymore and I don’t know my God anymore.”

Lewis, who once performed mission work in Guatemala, confessed his indiscretions and sought forgiveness. Lewis even promised to find another church community so that the girl and her family could return to their church.

“Every day I wake up and ask for God’s forgiveness,” Lewis wept at his sentencing hearing.

The girl was 15 years old at the time of the incidents and Lewis was 23. The indecent contact involved inappropriate touching, according to testimony.

At the time, President Judge William J. Furber Jr. characterized the situation as a “tragedy,” adding that while Lewis may have been an immature 23-year-old, he was an adult and should have known better than to get involved with a teenage girl. Furber said he was troubled by testimony from the girl and her mother that they felt ostracized from their church by parishioners who supported Lewis and blamed the girl for the conduct.

Lewis is the son of David M. Lewis, who is pastor of the church.

The elder Lewis, according to an arrest affidavit, reported his son’s conduct to child social service officials when he learned about the conduct in September 2008. That call then started the police investigation. Testimony revealed that prior to the incidents, there were no rules prohibiting adult youth group leaders from being alone with youths.

On Sept. 1, 2008, according to a criminal complaint, the younger Lewis confessed his conduct to his father, claiming he had had an “improper relationship” with the teenage girl. Father and son then met with the girl’s parents and during that meeting, the younger Lewis admitted to touching the girl inappropriately, the arrest affidavit alleged.

When he was interviewed by police, the younger Lewis said the incidents occurred when the girl was in his company after church functions. The incidents occurred at various locations in the township but not at the church, court documents indicate.

Members of the Pennsylvania Sexual Offender Assessment Board previously determined Lewis did not meet legal requirements to be classified as a sexually violent predator. But probation officers from the county’s sexual offender supervision unit monitored Lewis after his released from jail.

Under the state’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act, Lewis was required to report his address to state police for 10 years.

Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews