In September 2005 the congregation at Praise Assembly of God off State Road 100 in Bunnell was shocked during a gathering of 80 church members when its pastor, Don Wilburn, told the congregation that two girls and congregation members had been molested—by the church’s own youth pastor, Chris Thomas Miller—then known as Rev. Miller.
Miller, then a resident of Palm Coast’s Rose Place, was 26 at the time and had a 3-year-old son. He admitted to touching and masturbating one of the victims, 15, as she slept in his guest bedroom on several occasions, and admitted to fondling a 13-year-old girl as she watched a movie in the back of a classroom, during class. He was indicted, pleaded guilty in exchange for some of the charges being dropped, was sentenced to 42 months in prison, served 35 (he’d faced 15 years), then placed on sex-offender probation for 10 years, a term not scheduled to end until around 2020.
After his release he moved to Orlando, went through sex-offender therapy, repeatedly asked the court for permission to have unsupervised visits with his son (sex offenders are barred from unsupervised contact with minors), and in 2015 asked to have his probation ended. In February 2016, then-Circuit Judge J. David Walsh granted him permission to have unsupervised visits with his son. But no early termination of probation. He tried again not long after that with Judge Matthew Foxman and was again denied.
Last October, he violated his probation by missing curfew and failing to submit to electronic monitoring. He’d been living at 1136 Murdock Boulevard on the eastern part of Orlando. On Nov. 2, he was booked at the Flagler County jail without bond. At first he indicated he would contest the charge.
But today, with one of his victim apparently in courtroom, Miller changed his plea and admitted to violating probation even though not one or two GPS violations had been recorded since 2009, but 97. Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark explained to the judge that for the most part, those violations were the result of what Clark called ““technical issues with the GPS machine itself” rather than actual violations by Miller, which diminished the urgency of imposing a harsher sentence. But there were actual violations as well.
If the behavior continues, Clark said, “I’d be more inclined to send him to prison.” Clark’s deal to Miller was a sentence of 120 days at the county jail, coinciding with the actual number of days he’s served there awaiting his hearing since November, and what amounts to a final warning. The plea “hopefully will suffice to let him know obviously he’s being monitored, it won’t be tolerated again,” Clark said.
“The court is willing to accept that,” Circuit Judge Dennis Craig said.
The 120 days amount to credit of time served, resulting in the satisfaction of the sentence imposed today, but certainly not its erasure: Miller’s record is now considerably less than spotless since his release from prison.
“All these rule are really important that you follow,” he told a now-bearded Miller who stood before him, next to his attorney. The violations, the judge reminded Miller, are adding points to his offender’s scoresheet, points that eventually can land him back in prison. “Hopefully I don’t have to see you again, all right?” Craig told him. Miller nodded, was finger printed, and was escorted back to jail to be released either today or Friday, pending the re-installation of a GPS monitor on him.
What’s called “tolling” applies to the sentence, which means that his probation term was paused as the violation was being addressed. In other words, his probation period has been extended 120 days.