Former Cobb County, Georgia, Republican Party leader Joseph Dendy was given a life sentence after pleading guilty Friday to sexually abusing children.
Dendy, 72, must serve 30 years of that sentence in prison.
Dendy admitted that he had committed repeated sexual offenses against two boys, according to a statement from Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds. The crimes occurred between 2004 and 2011 at Dendy’s home, his church, and in a store dressing room, the statement said.
One victim, now an adult, told the court that he has nightmares of the abuse and became a military police officer to help other victims.
"I’m stronger than you," he told Dendy.
Dendy served four years as chair of the Cobb County GOP. His second, two-year term ended in 2015.
The defendant’s guilty plea came as a surprise during what was to be a pretrial hearing. Prosecutors were expected to call several additional witnesses who said they had also been abused.
Dendy was able to hide behind his "public persona as a prominent community leader," weaving a "path of destruction through his family for decades," prosecutor Susan Treadaway was quoted saying in the statement. "That ends today."
Cobb Superior Court Judge Kimberly Childs presided over the case.
Dendy’s attorney, Brian Steel, did not return a message left at his office.