Sunday School Teacher Guilty Of Raping Girls At Church Sentenced To 87 Years In Prison

Devil: Jonathan Young

A former Sunday school teacher will spend the next 87 years of his life in prison after being convicted of abusing and sexually assaulting at least three young girls behind church walls and on church buses in Johnston County.

A jury found Jonathan Young, 38, of Benson, guilty on multiple counts of rape, sexual offense and indecent liberties with children. He would be 125 years old when his sentence ends.

One of his victims, who is now an adult, shared her story. WRAL News usually does not identify sexual assault victims, but Brianna Holland wanted to share her story publicly to help others.

Holland went to Firstborn Baptist Church in Benson every Sunday growing up – and for two years, starting when she was just 9 years old – a white male she looked up to was inappropriately touching her. She kept the secret for years.

"I was confused and very scared," she says.

Church and Sunday School should have been a safe haven for Holland – and two other children who were abused between 2003 and 2014. The youngest victim was just 7 years old when she was molested, investigators said.

"On the Sunday School bus, he would just initially rub my leg on bus," she says.

The abuse grew worse with time.

"It was kissing, rubbing, grinding, things like that in the basement," she says. "He had made multiple threats. 'If you tell anyone, I will hurt you. I will hurt your family.'"

Four years after the abuse occurred, she got the courage to speak up. That was in 2017. One year later, the white pedophile was arrested and charged with sex crimes against three girls at the church, including Brianna Holland's sister.

"It was hard and traumatizing," she says. "I haven’t seen him since he was first arrested."

During the trial Holland sat across from the child rapist for two weeks, testifying in the case. His sentence of 87 years is long enough that he should never experience life outside of prison again.

"I was very happy, very content with what he got," she says.

Holland is now 19, and shared her story of sexual abuse with WRAL News in hopes it will help other victims.

"It does get easier," she says. "If anyone is a victim, my thing to them is tell someone. It’s the best thing to do."

Some former church members say church leaders knew about the pedophile's abuse, but did nothing to stop him.

Church leaders told WRAL News in 2018 there was no coverup.

"I'm heartbroken by it all because it's unbelievable," said Pastor Durwood Young after the arrest. "I hate it, and I don't know what else to say about it."

Durwood Young said he first heard about the allegations in 2014 from the sheriff's office, but no charges were filed at that time.

"The investigation was dropped as far as I know," Durwood Young said. "That's the way I understand it."

The church leader, who is Jonathan Young's great uncle, called him a "model employee."

"I think you could go out here in the community and find people who were absolutely devastated," Durwood Young said.

WRAL News reached out to Durwood Young on Tuesday after the sentence was passed, but he did not return calls.


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