Saturday May 28th, 2022 6:53AM

Gainesville teen pleads guilty to assault plot on Bethel AME Church

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist

A teenage girl who plotted last year to attack members of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville reached a plea deal during a hearing this afternoon.

Seventeen-year-old Caitlyn Pye of Gainesville plead guilty to one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony and was sentenced under the Hall County Superior Court to serve ten years on probation. Pye’s probation period will begin once she is eligible to leave the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center at 21-years-old.

Pye’s plea was filed under the Georgia First Time Offenders Act, which allows a defendant to enter a guilty plea but avoid a conviction.

Pye addressed the courtroom during her hearing, telling viewers that included members of Bethel AME Church, “I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done…I hope that one day you can forgive me but if not I understand.”

Judge Allyson Toller, who oversaw the case, told Pye that her willingness to improve herself during her time in the detention center played a role in her sentencing.

“I appreciate how much you have worked on yourself while you’ve been in custody,” said Toller. “From all accounts, it appears that you have really welcomed the assistance that you’re getting.”

Witnesses including Karen Green, a counselor at the Gainesville RYDC, and Pye’s mother Haley Pye spoke on her behalf.

Green testified that Pye was “dark” and kept to herself when she first arrived at the detention center, then eventually opened up to Green and set goals for herself.

“She began to blossom…she was working towards her GED she wanted so much and she really felt bad about what was going on,” said Green.

Pye’s mother said she had also noticed a change in her daughter since being at the detention center. She added that Pye was not taught to hate others growing up.

“She’s not a monster…I love her and she is an amazing, amazing child who did something really, really stupid,” she said.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who presides over the Georgia AME Church district, and Reverend Michelle Rizer-Pool, pastor of Bethel AME Church issued impact statements at the hearing.

Jackson said that the experience was an “alarm bell” to Bethel AME Church members and to AME church members all over the nation, but that there is no hostility toward Pye.

“While she apparently hates or hated us, we do not hate her and we do not wish to nullify her future and do not give up on her,” said Jackson.

Rizer-Pool focused on the impact that Pye’s threats have had on the Bethel AME Church community, including that money originally intended for repairs on the church building were spent instead on security measures.

She said that Pye needs to be held accountable for her actions.

“The laws of this nation, the laws of this state, the laws of this city must be upheld or else there are consequences for our actions, not disobedience,” said Rizer-Pool. “There are consequences for every act that we do.”

As a part of her sentence, Pye will also be required to:

  • Write a letter of apology to members of Bethel AME Church
  • Avoid contact with members, staff or employees of Bethel AME Church
  • Stay outside 150 feet of Bethel AME Church
  • Stay outside 150 feet of any AME Church in Georgia
  • Undergo counseling and psychological evaluation
  • Serve 50 hours of community service
© Copyright 2022
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Gainesville teen pleads guilty to assault plot on Bethel AME Church
A teenage girl who plotted last year to attack members of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville reached a plea deal during a hearing this afternoon.
5:06PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Man wanted for Clarkesville child abduction arrested in Lumpkin County
A man who had been on the run for more than a month after the reported abduction of his toddler son from a home in Clarkesville is now in custody.
2:58PM ( 2 hours ago )
6 linked to Georgia theology school charged with fraud
Six people from three states are charged with defrauding $12 million from federal student aid programs by allegedly enrolling students into a theology school without requiring any classwork
1:16PM ( 4 hours ago )
Local/State News
Gainesville officials to close some levels of downtown parking deck on Nov. 2
As the initial phases of construction begins on the Gainesville Renaissance project, the city of Gainesville will close several upper levels of the adjacent Main Street Parking Deck starting Monday, Nov. 2.
By AccessWDUN Staff
10:50AM ( 3 days ago )
Ralston to take on new leadership role for United Community Bank in Hall County
United Community Bank has named Mitch Ralston Commercial Lending and Division Manager within the bank’s Hall County team.
By Regan Spinks, AccessWDUN staff
5:00AM ( 4 days ago )
Collection of Gainesville directories digitized as part of Digital Library of Georgia
​Over 5,500 pages of Gainesville city directories belonging to the Hall County Library System have been digitized.
12:00PM ( 5 days ago )
Gainesville wins bid for 2026 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships
Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville has been selected as the host site for the 2026 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships.
By AccessWDUN Staff
9:00AM ( 6 days ago )
City of Gainesville to kick off Food Truck Saturday series this weekend
The City of Gainesville will hold its first Food Truck Saturday Social at Lake Lanier Olympic Park from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17.
By Regan Spinks, AccessWDUN staff
5:00AM ( 6 days ago )