FORSYTH, Mo. — A former official of a religious-themed sports camp tearfully apologized to his victims Wednesday as he was sentenced to two life terms in prison plus 30 years for sexually molesting boys.
"I am so sorry. I was supposed to model Christ and I didn't," Peter Newman said, reading from a statement in Taney County Circuit Court.Newman, 35, pleaded guilty in February to seven counts of sexually abusing boys, sometimes during Bible study in a hot tub at his Branson home.Newman worked as an assistant director at a Kanakuk Kamp near Branson. Southwest Missouri has several Kanakuk Kamps, which emphasize Christian principles in sports.Prosecutors alleged that Newman had sexual contact with campers beginning in 1999 and continuing through 2008. The crimes to which he pleaded guilty occurred from 2006 to 2008 and involved boys 11 through 15 years old.Once a popular leader with campers, Newman was fired after sending Kanakuk Kamps owner Joe White a long letter last June confessing his actions and apologizing.In court Wednesday, Newman described his sexual desires as a "hidden sin" he had kept secret since he was 12 years old. He apologized for hurting not just his victims but his former employer."I think that in a pretty dark world, Kanakuk is a lighthouse and one of the best things," Newman said. "I know I have done a lot to taint that light."More than 75 people packed Circuit Judge Mark Orr's courtroom for the sentencing. Statements from the victims were given privately to the judge."One author of a letter writes, 'I wanted to be like Pete.' It is clear why Mr. Newman was so easily entrusted with these children, but that is the same reason Mr. Newman was so dangerous to boys, underage boys," Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell said.Orr ordered the life sentences to be served consecutively.