Ex-New Hanover church youth group leader admits to probation violation in indecent contact case

A former New Hanover church youth group leader who served jail time for having indecent contact with a teenage girl has admitted to violating conditions of his supervision after authorities said he accessed the Internet without permission.

David Benson Lewis, 28, formerly of the 2900 block of Reifsnyder Road, admitted to the probation violation in Montgomery County Court and Judge Cheryl L. Austin sentenced him to three months and 15 days already served to 12 months in jail. Lewis was given credit for the time he’s been in jail since Oct. 7, when he was taken into custody for the alleged violation, and was immediately paroled by the judge.

Austin also ordered Lewis to complete two years’ probation, consecutive to parole, meaning Lewis will be under court supervision for a total of three years.

County Adult Probation and Parole officials alleged Lewis violated his previous probationary period by “accessing the Internet without permission…accessing social media,” according to a violation notice filed in court.

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

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 previously listed an employment address in Erie.

The girl was 15 years old at the time of the incidents and Lewis, who once performed mission work in Guatemala, was 23. The indecent contact involved inappropriate touching, according to testimony.

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