Rev. Johnny William “Bill” Cabe, the York County pastor who spent seven years in prison for stealing $8 million from church investors, will serve no prison time after pleading no contest Friday to 2010 charges alleging he claimed to be a doctor and performed exams on an 11-year-old boy he had befriended.
Cabe, 56, was charged twice in the 1990s on similar allegations of giving hernia exams and other improper contact with minor boys at Riverside Independent Baptist Church but never was convicted. Cabe was sentenced to five years probation Friday yet admitted no guilt in pleading no contest to five counts of unlawful practice of medicine for touching the boy’s private parts.
A negotiated plea deal between prosecutors and Cabe’s lawyers was for probation, yet Cabe must register with South Carolina’s child abuse registry. Cabe also can have no contact with non-family minors during the five years of probation.
The child abuse registry and probation deal “warns members of the community” of what Cabe did while claiming to be a doctor in a church office filled with medical equipment, prosecutor Erin Joyner said in court.
Other than saying he was pleading no contest, Cabe made no other statements in court Friday and admitted no guilt. No contest means a defendant accepts punishment like a guilty plea, but maintains innocence. Cabe has been free on bond since his arrest in 2010 on the charges.
Cabe made it seem “like he was a father figure to the boy,” and also befriended the child’s mother after the family that included another child started attending the Rock Hill church where Cabe was pastor, Joyner said.
Cabe had what appeared to be an “obsessive inappropriate relationship” with the boy, but that relationship was not a crime, Joyner said. However, because Cabe was not a doctor, “there was no reason for him (Cabe) to touch the child” in his private areas for any reason, Joyner said.
The child did not know at such a young age that Cabe was not a doctor as he purported to be, and so did not know that what was being done by Cabe was wrong, Joyner said.
Prosecutors offered the plea deal to avoid forcing the boy to testify after he had made emotional gains after the trauma of finding out that Cabe was not a doctor and had touched him inappropriately. Also, the boy did not come forward until the boy’s mother found out he was touched by Cabe, Joyner said, and past allegations of improper touching likely would not have been admissible because Cabe was never convicted.
At the time the boy was touched between 2008 and 2010, Cabe was a recently-released felon who spent seven years in federal prison for stealing millions from unwitting religious followers in a pyramid scheme that spanned the Atlantic Ocean. Cabe was convicted in 2001 in federal court of stealing more than $8 million in the 1990s but never admitted any guilt in the scheme involving another pastor and an art dealer from England. He was fined $7.8 million, and officials seized more than $1.2 million of his assets.
Despite his felony convictions for stealing from dozens of people including his own church members, Cabe even conducted church services by telephone from federal prison before being released.
Once in possession of millions that was seized by the federal government that alleged Cabe stole it all from suckers in a scheme, Cabe is now allegedly so poor he is considered indigent by South Carolina’s legal standard so he was represented Friday by public defenders.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065