Man attacks ex-pastor in courtroom
A Medford youth pastor who admitted to a sexual crime involving a juvenile was sent to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after a man attacked him in the middle of a sentencing hearing.
The sentencing of Donald Courtney Biggs, 40, was postponed after a sudden attack in U.S. District Court in Medford, in which a man sitting with Biggs’ victims lunged over a railing and landed a punch, sending Biggs into a fetal position on the floor.
Biggs earlier this year pleaded guilty to a felony count of transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity in a case that the U.S. Attorney’s Office says involves at least two years of secret recordings of juveniles changing clothes, showering and using the bathroom in his home, on multiple church trips and at summer camps.
Biggs’ accused attacker has been identified as Kevin Patrick Smith, 45, of Medford, who Medford police arrested on misdemeanor charges of obstructing governmental or judicial administration, fourth-degree assault and second-degree disorderly conduct. As of Wednesday evening, Smith remained held in the Jackson County Jail on $12,500 bail.
The more than two hours leading up to the attack had been a pressure cooker of emotions as about three dozen young women and their families attended the hearing Wednesday, and more than a half dozen of those victims fought tears as they shared feelings of shattered trust, shredded confidence and phobias of bathrooms not their own that have manifested in the three years and seven months since Biggs was arrested.
A tripped burglary alarm and missing hard drives at Mtn. Church in downtown Medford sparked a child pornography investigation that culminated in the pastor’s conviction.
One of Biggs’ victims had been violated before via hidden cameras by her gymnastics coach, Jeffrey Bettman, according to a statement read during the hearing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Potter. Bettman in 2016 was sentenced to 2-1/2 decades in prison.
The victim had confided in Biggs about Bettman’s betrayal and enjoyed youth group activities as she learned to trust adults again.
“You know what hurts me the most, Donnie?” the victim’s statement said. “I was probably the one who gave you the idea in the first place.”
Another young woman said she has a panic attack every time she goes to Jacksonville, where Biggs lived and held sleepovers.
“You didn’t ruin my life,” she said, composing herself after an emotional statement. “I’ve grown.”
The statements lasted more than two hours.
Biggs’ public defender, Terry Kolkey, had just begun describing how Biggs had written to his four sons daily from Jackson County Jail when Smith allegedly rushed across the courtroom and punched Biggs in the face, according to jail records and Medford police Lt. Justin Ivens.
Medford police inside the courtroom and federal marshals quickly cleared the courtroom, which had been packed so tightly that many of the victims sat in the jury box.
Biggs was transported to a local hospital to be checked for injuries, according to Ivens, who spoke outside the courthouse.
Medford police arrested Smith on misdemeanor charges of obstructing governmental or judicial administration, fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. Although the attack occurred in federal court, the Smith will be charged through the state court system by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, according to Ivens.
Within hours of the attack, a gofundme account to cover legal costs had been set up for Smith by a friend, Jacob Elkin, who described Smith as someone who “did what every person in that room wanted to.” As of 8 p.m., the fund had raised $485 of a $5,000 goal.
Biggs’ condition was not available. Mercy Flights and Medford Fire-Rescue paramedics responded to the scene.
Prosecutors in the case are seeking a sentence of 15 years, eight months in prison for Biggs, a former youth pastor at Mtn. Church. Biggs previously had pleaded guilty to a felony count of transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, admitting he transported a 14-year-old girl to Southern California with intent to record her in a bathroom during a March 2013 church trip he chaperoned. His defense attorney had been arguing for a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence.
Biggs has been held in the Jackson County Jail since early 2015, after a burglary at Mtn. church in downtown Medford led investigators to a collection of hidden camera recordings involving dozens of victims.
The sentencing hearing has been scheduled to continue at noon today.