Crime & Courts

Lancaster minister sentenced for sex assaults on children


A Lancaster minister of music for more than four decades was sentenced to 25 years Tuesday after pleading guilty to sex assaults on children.

Dennis Fred Rutledge, 63, had been scheduled for trial to start Tuesday afternoon on the first-degree sex assault with a child under age 11 but agreed to plead guilty just hours before the trial was set to begin, said Randy Newman, 6th Circuit solicitor.

Rutledge’s 25-year sentence will run concurrent with a 13-year sentence he received Monday after pleading guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor for the charges involving an older girl, Newman said.

Newman pushed for stronger prosecution of sexual and violent predators when campaigning for the solicitor’s job in 2014.

Rutledge was arrested Dec. 31, 2013, after Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office detectives launched an investigation into allegations that Rutledge had illicit contact with underage girls. Detectives said when Rutledge was arrested there were multiple victims and that Rutledge, in a position of authority because of his age and status at the church, preyed on the underage girls he met through the ministry.

Rutledge was music director at Camp Creek Baptist Church for more than 40 years until his arrest.

Lancaster County is a safer place now that Rutledge is in prison, said Andy Cook, the assistant solicitor who prosecuted the cases against Rutledge.

Rutledge was initially charged with six counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault on a minor under age 11, one count of sex assault on a minor between the ages of 14 and 16, and an obscenity charge for exposing himself.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065