Benjamin Boysel is led into the courtroom for arraignment Monday morning on four sexual battery charges.
Benjamin Boysel is led into the courtroom for arraignment Monday morning on four sexual battery charges.
BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin News Writer

egebert@timesbulletin.com

A former Van Wert youth pastor made his first appearance in court Monday morning to answer to four felony sexual battery counts against him.

Benjamin R. Boysel, 33, entered not guilty pleas to the charges against him while nearly a dozen spectators and additional members of the media looked on.

Boysel was arraigned after being indicted by the Van Wert County Grand Jury on Friday. He is accused of engaging in sexual contact with four different members of his youth group at Trinity United Methodist Church in Van Wert. Each of the females in the case were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged incidents.

Boysel said little during his appearance. He was led into the courtroom to view a video explaining the arraignment process and was led out again. Almost immediately, Boysel was brought back into courtroom for the hearing itself. Wearing handcuffs and shackles, he answered all questions briefly.

Defense attorney Edward Hatcher requested that Boysel be released to the custody of his parents, but at the request of the prosecution, Judge Charles D. Steele ordered that Boysel be held on a $10,000 bond. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for April 7.

The first count against Boysel specifies sexual conduct between Jan. 1, 2006 - Oct. 8, 2007. The second lists the dates March 23, 2006 - March 22, 2008. The third count is for conduct alleged to have happened between Jan. 1, 2007 - Jan. 29, 2008, while the fourth indicates conduct between July 1 - Nov. 18, 2009.

Each of the four charges is a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison. If convicted of all counts, Boysel could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.