The Arizona Daily Star , February 24, 1998

Minister gets 29 years for beating kids

By Jon Burstein

A local minister gave one last fiery speech yesterday before a Pima County judge sentenced him to 29 years in prison for brutalizing his two stepsons.

William Roush, 48, repeatedly pointed out that he was an ordained minister as he denied abusing his 10- and 13-year-old stepsons.

"I ask you for leniency because I did not do anything wrong," a defiant Roush told Judge John Leonardo of Pima County Superior Court.

A jury convicted Roush in December of breaking his 13-year-old stepson's arm with a shovel, threatening the boy with knives and beating his 10-year-old stepson with a rake handle so hard it broke.

Leonardo said Roush's "unbridled anger" obviously had not been curbed by a previous prison sentence he served for hitting his older stepson.

Roush, once affiliated with Tucson-area churches, said he performed up to 400 weddings per year at his Tucson Mountains home before his arrest.

"Everything has been taken away by the injustice of this United States court," Roush said as he argued that his wife concocted tales of abuse to get revenge against him.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Lynnette Kimmins said she was pleased with the sentence. She added that it will comfort the victims to know their abuser is in prison.

"He was in a position of trust," Kimmins said. "Not only was he a minister, but he was the boys' only father figure."

Roush had faced up to 54 years in prison for his convictions on five child abuse counts and two aggravated assault charges.

Pima County sheriff's deputies arrested Roush on Aug. 14 after his brother-in-law reported an onslaught the minister had launched against his wife and two stepsons a month earlier.

Roush attacked the two boys July 10 after he got upset with one of them for not raking the yard of their home in the 2700 block of North Sundance Trail, court records show.

The minister took the boys into the garage, locked the door and then beat them with a rake handle until it broke on the younger boy, according to court documents.

About an hour later, Roush and the older boy were in the family's kitchen when the minister kicked the teen in the stomach, grabbed a knife and put the boy's head down on the counter with the knife to his neck, court records indicate.

Brenda Roush, the boy's mother, told Roush to stop, and he assaulted her, court documents state.

When William Roush's brother-in-law arrived later that day, he found the younger boy limping with bruises on his back and a swollen arm, court records show. Brenda Roush was discovered lying on the couch with part of her hair missing, according to court documents.

In addition to being convicted on charges in that attack, Roush was found guilty of breaking the older boy's right arm with a shovel and hitting the boy over the head with a plastic chair.

The two boys now live with their mother's relatives, Kimmins said.

Roush had pleaded guilty in 1993 to abusing the older boy and was sentenced to two years in prison. However, he was released on Christmas Day 1994 and put on parole.

He later moved back in with his wife, their two children, ages 1 and 4, and his two stepsons. Authorities said the abuse began again in March 1996 when his parole ended.

The older boy testified at Roush's trial that the minister justified the beatings by saying the boy had put him in jail.

Brenda Roush faced four counts of child abuse for failing to protect her sons and get them medical aid, but the Pima County Attorney's Office opted to drop the charges.

Kimmins said Brenda Roush was physically and mentally abused by her husband.

Roush, who has been married five times, has a history of abusing women, court records indicate.

An ex-wife said he used to beat her, and the minister is afraid to fight other men, court records state.

"But any woman or child is another story," the ex-wife is quoted as saying in court documents.

Return to Newsroom Index or to Table of Contents.