YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Teen girls who were students of a former youth pastor at the Victory Christian Center Boardman Campus told a judge Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas how Mark Cuprik II abused them as teenagers.

Cuprik, 23, was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum before a courtroom packed with supporters of his family and relatives of the two victims, who both addressed the judge.

Cuprik pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to sexual battery, a third degree felony; two counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, a fourth degree felony; importuning, a fifth degree felony; and disseminating material harmful to a juvenile, a fifth degree felony. At the time of the plea, prosecutors were recommending a four year sentence while defense attorney Ron Yarwood said he would argue for less.

Cuprik has been free on bond since his November arraignment after he was indicted by a grand jury.
Cuprik is accused of having a sexual relationship with a then 15-year-old girl who was a church member.
The pandering and disseminating charge deals with the person Cuprik had the relationship with and another teen.

Assistant Prosecutor Caitlyn Andrews said Cuprik began sending pictures to the first victim in 2017 on Instagram when he was 18 and the victim was 14 and said if she did not send sexually explicit photos to him, he would not promote her to leadership positions in the church. Andrews said Cuprik told people what he was doing and he knew what he was doing was wrong.

When the first victim got a boyfriend in 2019, Cuprik moved on to another female who was 13 years old at the time. Andrews said he continued sending photos to her and asked for photos in return, made her download a special app and had sex with her in a car, making her take the morning after pill because he was afraid she would become pregnant.

Andrews said Cuprik is a dangerous sexual predator who needs to be in prison. He told both girls he loved them and wanted to marry them, Andrews said.

“The defendant groomed these girls,” Andrews said. “He told them he loved them. He took advantage of the trust they had in him.”

Andrews said what struck her was how fast Cuprik moved on from one victim to another.

“How young was he willing to go?” Andrews asked.

The first victim, who is now 19, told the judge that there were times when Cuprik would preach on Sunday mornings then ask for more explicit pictures hours later.

“He has taken so much from my family time and time again,” she said.

The investigation began in March after Cuprik was chased by Beaver Township police who were responding to a confrontation between the family of the victims and Cuprik. The second victim was in the truck with Cuprik when the chase began and said she was terrified during the 30-minute chase.

She told the judge when she took the morning after pill, Cuprik made her do it on video on her phone so he could make sure she took it. She said Cuprik had her convinced her entire family was crazy and that she was willing to do anything for him because he convinced her he would marry her when she turned 18.

Yarwood asked for a three year sentence, saying his client took responsibility for his actions, was expelled from YSU with just one semester remaining, shamed his family and has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.

Cuprik apologized to both victims and said “it was my job as the leader to set boundary lines and because I didn’t, I crossed those lines.”

Sometimes in tears, Cuprik said he embarrassed his family, lost his business and lost his friends. He said he was the only one to blame.

“Whenever I try to get a job or move to a community this will always be against me, but it will always be my fault.”

He also apologized to both victims, saying he will pray for healing for them and he asked if they can forgive him some day.

Judge Krichbaum said he believed the sentencing agreement recommended by Andrews was appropriate.
He said the fact Cuprik accepted responsibility was a major factor in his decision as well as the fact he apologized.

“Four years in prison is not a light sentence. You will be severely punished,” Judge Krichbaum said.

The church said in a statement Cuprik was removed from his post in January 2021 when they first heard allegations of misconduct, and they have cooperated with authorities since.