A former Jehovah’s Witness ministerial servant will serve 16 months to five years in prison for third-degree minor sex abuse, a Natrona County District Court judge decided Wednesday.
Michael A. Mayer, according to court documents, knew the victim from Casper’s Kingdom Hall.
He accepted a plea agreement in January that dismissed a second count related to a separate alleged incident of sexual abuse. The charge carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Court filings state Mayer was 42 when the abuse took place, and the victim was 15 and 16.
The victim appeared by video call in court Wednesday, telling Judge Daniel Forgey that she considered Mayer one of her best friends and didn’t come forward earlier because he had told her he would go to jail or kill himself if she did. She also said she doesn’t go a day without thinking about it, and at times has panic attacks when memories resurface.
“I don’t think that the mental/emotional abuse, or emotional damage, that this has caused is ever really going to go away,” the victim said.
According to court transcripts, Mayer told a Casper police detective in a phone call that he was friends with the victim’s family and considered their relationship “more of a father-daughter” dynamic.
“The bad part about it is, I wouldn’t say bad part,” he reportedly told Detective Chase Nash, “but the part about it is she’s more of a daughter to me.”
In the same call, transcripts show Mayer admitted to having sex with the 16-year-old and said it was “the absolutely worst decision” he’d made in his life.
Mayer read a statement Wednesday, saying he regrets committing the abuse and the effect it’s had on the victim and her family, as well as his own family.
Mayer’s attorney requested the sentence be suspended for probation in court Wednesday, citing his willingness to cooperate with the investigation and to admit his actions. Judge Daniel Forgey denied the request.
An affidavit in the case says Mayer had intercourse with the victim two times around July 2020, both in the bathroom at Mayer’s office in Mills. In interviews with investigators, Mayer also admitted to touching the victim on several other occasions, including at his home and on a trip out of the state.
The victim’s mother said in court Wednesday that she felt Mayer had abused his position of authority and his role in the Jehovah’s Witness congregation.
“He robbed my daughter of her innocence,” she said. “He robbed and stole something she can never get back.”