KENTON COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - A former youth pastor and school volunteer will spend at least 17 years behind bars after admitting guilt on charges of sexual abuse and sodomy of a minor.
Joseph Niemeyer, 56, worked with youth at the Banklick Baptist Church in Walton until he was arrested in February 2016. He also volunteered at Twenhofel Middle School.
On Monday, Niemeyer pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count first-degree sodomy, all against a girl younger than 12.
Under the plea agreement, Niemeyer will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He could spend up to 20 years in jail and must serve 17 years before being parole eligible, according to Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders.
Niemeyer and his wife worked as youth pastors at the church, according to Tim Cochran, pastor at New Banklick.
"This is a pretty big deal. It's like a kick in the gut," Cochran told FOX19 NOW in 2016. "He was my friend. I'm shocked really. Never in a million years would I have guessed anything like this."
Sanders said Niemeyer will appear in court again for a sentencing hearing.