Former Youth Pastor Seeks Dismissal of Majority of Sexual Assault Charges

Jackson Michael Gatlin
Jackson Michael Gatlin

DULUTH, MN ( – Jackson Michael Gatlin, 35, a former assistant pastor at Duluth’s Vineyard Church, is pursuing the dismissal of multiple charges related to alleged sexual assaults against five girls. Gatlin, who rejected a plea offer from the prosecution, is opting for pretrial litigation.

Gatlin faces 10 felony charges across five cases, primarily involving criminal sexual conduct. Defense attorney Chris Stocke contends that four cases lack probable cause and may be barred by statute limitations. Additionally, Stocke argues Gatlin wasn’t in a position of authority during the alleged crimes.

One case, involving the attempted rape of a 16-year-old, is set for trial. Allegedly, Gatlin tied her to a bed, causing intense pain, before she managed to escape. Other charges stem from Gatlin’s tenure at the church, where he had access to minors for 15 years.

Prosecutor Michael Hagley plans to introduce evidence from multiple victims in each trial. Despite objections, citing relevance, Judge Dale Harris will rule on these matters by early July.

Gatlin’s parents, also associated with the church, resigned following the investigation. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 18.

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