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Gets 180 Days in Jail : Son Sentenced in Assault on Evangelist Vandeman

Times Staff Writer

The son of television evangelist George Vandeman was sentenced Friday to 180 days in jail and placed on probation for five years for stabbing his father in the back with a kitchen knife.

In sentencing Ronald Vandeman, 43, Ventura Superior Court Judge Steven Z. Perren said the defendant needs “treatment, not more punishment.”

A condition of the probation is that Vandeman live at a 24-hour board-and-care home where officials can make certain he is taking medication for schizophrenia, which can cause hallucinations and delusions.

Donna Walters, a deputy district attorney, said that, shortly before the April 11 attack in Thousand Oaks, Ronald Vandeman’s medication was changed for the mental illness from which he has suffered for 22 years.

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She said the change in medicine “seemed to be what triggered the assault.”

Defendant Impassive

Vandeman, who pleaded guilty May 3 to assault with a deadly weapon, stared ahead impassively when the judge pronounced sentence.

He nodded his head to indicate agreement with the terms of probation, saying only, “I’ll be talking about it later with certain people.”

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George Vandeman, 68, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, has hosted “It Is Written” since originating the religious show 29 years ago.

The weekly half-hour program, taped at the Seventh-day Adventist Media Center in Newbury Park, is broadcast by about 100 stations in the United States, Canada and Australia, according to church officials.

‘Superficial Wounds’

The elder Vandeman suffered only “superficial wounds” from the stabbing, mainly because the six-inch blade of the weapon bent when it struck a bone, Walters said.

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The minister, who did not attend his son’s sentencing, said earlier that the attack came without warning and without provocation.

The elder Vandeman was saved from further harm by Harold Reiner, a fellow Adventist minister who was driving past the Vandeman home and saw the two struggling.

“Thirty seconds later, it would have been too late, I’m pretty sure,” Reiner said in an interview. “Ron’s a big fella . . . I don’t think he would have backed off for anyone else.”

Walters said that, until shortly before the assault, Ronald Vandeman had lived in a Glendale board-and-care home.

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But after he contracted hepatitis doctors changed his medicine and he moved into his parents’ home to recuperate, she said.

Unable to Post Bail

The younger Vandeman was unable to post $100,000 bail and has been in jail since his arrest.

Perren said that, with time off for good behavior and credit for time served, Vandeman could be released from Ventura County Jail as early as Aug. 8. He could have been imprisoned for up to four years.

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Walters and Deputy Public Defender William Perryman, who represented Vandeman, were in agreement on terms of Vandeman’s probation.

The prosecutor said she would normally have sought a longer imprisonment but did not because, “This is a case of someone who committed a crime over which he had no control.”

Walters said the defendant had no criminal record.

The elder Vandeman, who was out of the state and unavailable for comment Friday, had said earlier that he hoped his son would be placed in an institution rather than a prison.

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“His mother and I love him dearly and want the best for him,” he said.


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