Alphonso Joseph, the 50-year-old Palm Coast resident and former pastor at several Bunnell churches, was sentenced this afternoon to five years in prison followed by 10 years on sex-offender probation after pleading guilty to having sex with an underage boy.
Joseph will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and will have to follow rigorous sex-offender conditions once released from prison, where he will not be eligible for early release. His conditions include a prohibition on working or volunteering as a pastor or church leader in any capacity. Joseph had been a pastor at Vision Cathedral and Destined for Greatness Ministries in Bunnell.
The sentencing was scheduled following an open plea, meaning that the judge would have decided the punishment. But this afternoon the lawyers in the case told Circuit Judge Terence Perkins that they had re-negotiated the plea to include a proposed sentence, to which the judge agreed. The sentence was negotiated between defense attorney Steven Robinson and Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark. Joseph had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Joseph was arrested late the night of July 14, 2022. A noise complaint about loud music spilling from a car parked at the disused Matanzas Woods golf course in north Palm Coast drew law enforcement there. Sheriff’s deputies found Joseph in a Toyota Camry with a 15-year-old boy. The pastor and the boy were in the back seat, pulling up their pants.
The boy told authorities he had had met Joseph on a dating app. Joseph had picked him up at a particular address and driven him to the golf course. Joseph told deputies he and the boy were “just chillin’.”
Joseph posted bail on $15,000 bond within a day of his incarceration. He’d been free until today, when he appeared in court with some 10 people sitting behind him in the gallery, some of whom might have testified on his behalf had it still been an open plea, and their testimony could influence the judge’s decision.
The victim’s mother attended by zoom and briefly addressed the court. “It did change my life and my son’s life tremendously,” she said. “I went through a lot of mental health things. I just pray everything works out for this gentleman. And just know that it really affected my family a lot. It affected me as a mother–a lot.”
Joseph did not say anything other than answer the judge’s routine questions when the sentenced was passed.
He was convicted on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim younger than 16 but older than 12. Once released, he will have to comply with a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew daily. He will be prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school or park or any place where children gather, prohibited from contact with any children–anyone under 18–other than court-supervised contact, and will be barred from holding jobs or volunteering at numerous types of jobs that entail contact with children, such as day care centers, zoos, malls and theme parks. Other restrictions and prohibitions apply.
The case had been moving to trial late this summer when the defense indicated that Joseph would plead out. He did so initially on Aug. 31.