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Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Robert Woodrum Accused of Raping Two Minors

pastor robert woodrum

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Robert Woodrum, former pastor of Oakfield Baptist Church (affiliated with the American Baptist Convention) in Corning, Ohio stands accused of raping two minor girls (one of whom is related to him).

The Perry County Tribune reports:

When the former pastor of a Perry County church was sued by his adult granddaughter for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a child, he flatly denied the charge and suggested the lawsuit was just part of an attempt to extort money from him.

Earlier this month, however, a Perry County grand jury issued an indictment against 71-year-old Robert A. Woodrum, charging him with 24 counts of first-degree felony rape involving two underage victims.

The indictment, filed Nov. 24 in Perry County Common Pleas Court, indicates that the two victims were both under the age of 13 when the alleged crimes occurred. The victims are designated in the indictment only by initials, ALK and MRF.

There are 12 charges relating to each of the two victims, and in each case the rapes are alleged to have taken place during the summer months – in June, July and August of 2002 through 2005 for ALK, and June, July and August of 2003 through 2006 for MRF.

The indictment indicates that ALK was under 10 years old throughout the period of the alleged sex assaults in that case, and that MRF was under 10 during the alleged assaults that took place prior to 2004.

In July a woman identifying herself as Woodrum’s granddaughter, but using the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” filed a lawsuit against him in Perry County Common Pleas Court. The complaint said that the plaintiff was now a Marion County resident under 30 years old. It alleged that Woodrum had engaged in sexual conduct with her from the time she was 9 until she turned 13.

The woman claimed that while she was growing up, “particularly in the summers,” she would “regularly spend the night with her maternal grandparents.” She alleged that during these visits, her grandfather engaged in sexual conduct with her, in the form of inappropriate touching, “dozens of times.” The type of activity she describes in the suit would qualify as rape under Ohio law because of the age of the alleged victim.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff’s attorneys indicated that the woman had also filed a complaint with the Perry County Sheriff’s Office about the alleged sexual assaults. At that time The Perry County Tribune contacted Perry County Prosecutor Joseph A. Flautt, who confirmed that his office been informed of the woman’s complaint, and was investigating

Woodrum, a former pastor of Oakfield Baptist Church, reportedly lived in Crooksville until June 2021, when he moved to Zanesville. In late July he answered the lawsuit and countersued the plaintiff for defamation.

In his answer and countersuit Woodrum denied “that he has ever engaged in sexual conduct with any person under the age of 13.” He accused his granddaughter of filing a frivolous lawsuit “brought merely to harass (him) and extort money.” He claimed that before the suit was filed, the law firm representing the woman had sent him successive letters, each “requesting a large confidential settlement under threat of litigation.”

Woodrum also asked the court to either dismiss the woman’s complaint, or require her to proceed under her real name. “Plaintiff should not be permitted to proceed in this action under a pseudonym,” his attorneys argued in a motion. “Permitting plaintiff to proceed anonymously in this action while forcing defendant to face the onslaught of public humiliation and scorn is unjust and inequitable.”

In October, however, Common Pleas Judge Tina M. Boyer ruled in the woman’s favor, saying that she will not dismiss her suit, and will allow her to continue to be identified in court records as Jane Doe.

Following Woodrum’s indictment, a nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest.

I pastored near Oakfield Baptist Church from 1983-1994.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor David Rowan Accused of Raping Teen Girls Commits Suicide

pastor david rowan

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

2018

David Rowan, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, stands accused of raping two teen girls.

ABC-2 reports:

A high-profile church pastor was charged with sexually assaulting two young sisters while he was in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for a religious conference.

Florida pastor David Rowan was arrested there Tuesday. He’s was indicted on rape, unlawful sexual contact and sexual battery by an authority figure.

The arrest stemmed from an alleged incident here in Middle Tennessee back in 2014. Rowan was a guest speaker at a religious convention in Murfreesboro.

Sex crimes detectives said he convinced the parents of two girls to let him take them to lunch. The family was seeking spiritual guidance from Rowan and trusted him.

Police said he brought the 14 and 15-year-old sisters to a local hotel where he took advantage of the situation and molested them.

Rowan is a well-known pastor in Milton, Florida, not far from Pensacola.

Rowan’s church bio page states:

The atmosphere in my childhood home was semi religious, leading to my philosophy by the time of my Navy enlistment in 1973 that all paths led to God—though because of my sins, I felt I could not go to heaven

My high school sweetheart and I were married in 1975, and by 1980 deteriorating circumstances in our home motivated us to take our two baby daughters and begin attending church.

Following Bible principles, our marriage improved, and I became a better man. My pastor told me that in light of these changes, coupled with the fact that I had gone forward in a church service as a nine year old boy, I must be saved. Further Bible study and application of the truths I learned brought me so much enjoyment that I began sharing these things with others.

Finally, in the fall of 1981, I enrolled in Tennessee Temple University to pursue pastoral studies and learned more wonderful truths, the two most notable of those being who Jesus really is and His wonderful gift of salvation. (Neither as a nine year old boy nor as a 25 year old man had I known these truths, but I concluded that God knew I would learn them later in life, so He went ahead and saved me when I was nine.)

After finishing my studies at Tennessee Temple University in 1985, I began my first pastorate, still clinging to that “nine-year-old” profession (whatever that was).

(During this time, two Bible passages kept bothering me: Matthew 7:21-23 in which the Lord disclaims certain individuals performing works in His name, and Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” “What did I believe when I said I believed?” was the recurring question haunting my mind.)

Through the Scriptures, God revealed to me that I was a lost sinner. He then used them further to give me additional knowledge I desperately needed and opened my understanding to the point that I rested in the finished work of Christ for mankind’s redemption.

After 10 years of church and ministry, I was truly “born again” and have never doubted or questioned the sufficiency of the suffering of Christ Jesus on my behalf.

Like Apollos in Acts 18, my “calling” is to keep preaching that Jesus is the Christ who died and paid for the sins of the whole world.

2021

Rowan’s case eventually went to trial. While awaiting the jury’s verdict, Rowan drove to a parking garage in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and killed himself.

ABC-3 reports:

A Milton pastor who was on trial this week for multiple sex crimes against two teenage girls was found dead in a parking garage Thursday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, according to the Murfreesboro Police Department.

David Rowan, 66, appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the preliminary investigation.

Murfreesboro PD responded to the Rutherford County Justice Center Parking Garage on 223 Maple Street at around 11:43 a.m. where they found Rowan dead from a single gunshot wound.

Rowan was awaiting a jury’s verdict regarding his charges for multiple sex crimes involving two teenage girls in 2014.

Rowan was arrested by Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 16, 2018.

A report from the MPD in 2017 states that two teenage sisters were victimized in 2014. They said Rowan was the suspect involved.

Rowan was booked into Santa Rosa County Jail on Feb 16, 2018 and was held on no bond. (why was he out of jail?)

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Genesis 1-3: Who Was “God” Talking To?

creationism

The night before October 23, 4004 BC, God, you know, THE God, the one and only God of the King James Bible, decided to create the universe. For the next six literal 24 hour days, God created the sun, moon, stars, planets, earth, animals, insects, fish, and plant life. Oh, and don’t forget God’s super-duper, special creation on day six:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Wait a minute . . . what’s this US thing all about? Do I detect polytheism? Whoever US is, they created a human man and woman in their image. (Genesis 2 says it was the LORD God that created Adam and Eve) After creating Adam and Eve, the Gods closed up their creation shop and went on vacation. Next October 23rd we will celebrate the 6,026th anniversary of the first day of creation. Time for a new Hallmark card, yes?

Now I am being a bit silly here, but let me point out something very important. It is clear, based on Genesis 1:27, that there was more than one God involved in creating humans. Once we get to Genesis 3, we see that there is one God called LORD God. It is this LORD God that comes to the Garden of Eden to talk to Adam and Eve. It is this LORD God that tells Adam and Eve their punishment for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. An interesting point here is that Adam and Eve can see God and talk to him, yet the Bible says that no man has seen God at any time.

After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened and both knew, for the first time, that the other was naked. While we don’t know how long the time span was between the creation of Adam and Eve and their act of disobedience, it’s hard to imagine that neither Adam or Eve paid any attention to their partners’ nakedness. Surely they were created with a sex drive. Sooooo . . . I don’t know about you, but I think I would notice that the only other living person, the person who snuggled up to me around the Camp Eden campfire, was naked.

The LORD God, being the prude that countless Fundamentalist preachers have said he is, was quite disturbed over Adam and Eve’s nakedness. The LORD God took it upon himself to get some clothing for Adam and Eve. He spotted a bear or maybe a buffalo or mountain lion, and in the first act of violence on earth, the LORD God killed the animals so he could make Adam and Eve clothes to wear. Using a process that humans to this day have not discovered, the LORD God killed the animal(s), dried and tanned the skin, and sewed the skins into clothing quicker than a Chinese sweatshop worker sewing a shirt for Walmart.

The LORD God then had a conference call with the other Gods. He said, look, remember those two humans we created? Remember the one rule we gave them? Yeah . . . those dumb asses picked fruit off the tree and ate it. Now they are like us, knowing good and evil. We need to do something immediately lest they eat from the Tree of Life. We don’t want them to do that, right? If they do, they will live forever, just like us. Can’t have humans living forever.

So the LORD God, acting on behalf of the other Gods, evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Of course, they didn’t want to go. After all, they only had one set of clothes in their dresser. But the LORD God was insistent and he drove them out of the Garden of Eden. To make sure that Adam and Eve could not eat from the Tree of Life, the LORD God put a flaming sword that turned every which way near the tree.

Reading Genesis 1-3 without importing Trinitarian theology into it presents a very different creation story from that which countless Evangelicals have been told. Go back to the text and read it for yourself. Is what I have written here plausible? On what basis do we say there was just one God? Is it not just as plausible to say that there was more than one God, a LORD God, and other Gods that were perhaps subservient to him/her?

But Bruce, in the first five days of creation the Bible says God (singular) created. True, but since humans weren’t created until day 6, who was God talking to on the first five days when the Bible says, and God said? Was he talking to himself? Perhaps he was talking to the other Gods, just like he did in Genesis 1:26 and 3:22?

And I am just getting started. Go back to the text, take off your Trinitarian, orthodox Christian glasses, and read it again. Is my story any less plausible than the one Evangelical children are taught in Sunday school?

Notes

There is textual evidence for God creating Eve AFTER the six days of creation in the second creation story found in Genesis 2. This conflicts with the first creation story in Genesis 1.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Freedom without Jesus

jimmy carter lust quote

According to Evangelicals, we live in a world inhabited by fallen, broken, sinful people. All humans are sinners, from the moment they come forth from the womb speaking lies to when they draw their last breath. Numerous Bible verses reinforce the notion that there is something seriously wrong with every one of us. We have a disease called sin and it is killing us.

According to Evangelicals, we are helpless, hopeless, and empty. We lack purpose, direction, and meaning. Simply put, we are fucked. There is no hope for any of us. From the first man and woman to the baby born just a moment ago, all of us are wretches in bondage to our wants, needs, and desires. Sure sucks to be us, yes?

But wait, Preacher Billy Mays says. All is not lost. God sent his son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for sinners. Through his shed blood sin is expiated, and by putting faith in him we can have our sins forgiven and find purpose, meaning, and direction. And as an added bonus, at no extra charge, those who pray and ask Jesus to forgive them will be given eternal life and a home in God’s Trump Hotel after they die.

Millions and millions of people call the 1-800-salvation number only to find out that there is a catch. Yes, the salvation is free; yes, the eternal life and hotel room is free, but there is a small shipping and handling charge. How much, you ask?

Just your life. If you buy what Preacher Billy Mays is selling, the cost is your life. Every moment of every day will belong to Jesus until you die. Your life will be governed by an ancient, largely irrelevant religious text called the Bible. This text has hundreds and hundreds of laws, rules, regulations, and precepts you will be expected to obey. While technically you can still get eternal life and a Heavenly hotel room after you die even if you don’t obey, surely you don’t want the room at the back of the hotel — the room where the plumbing never seems to work and the couple next door are loudly fucking day and night.

Sold a fantastical story about sin and brokenness, and emptiness and forgiveness, and healing and fulfillment, Evangelicals give the operator their credit card numbers and order God’s Eternal Life Package® — free, just pay shipping and handling. This shipping and handling charge, as they will find out later, will be charged to their credit card every month until they die.

Evangelicals love to point out the awesome freedom they have now that they have bought God’s Eternal Life Package®. Are they really free, the non-Evangelical asks? Bound to the words of an antiquated, contradictory book, are Evangelicals really free?

According to Evangelicals, God created everything, including every human. God gave us sexual desire, the Evangelical says, but the Bible says we can only act on this desire if we are married to someone of the opposite sex (and Christians are only allowed to marry Christians). Acting on our sexual desire outside the boundaries of heterosexual marriage is sin, a sin that some verses in the Bible say will result in us forfeiting our Eternal Life Package® and room at God’s Trump Hotel. Instead, we will get Satan’s Eternal Death Package® and a room in Beelzebub’s Motel Six.

Not only does the Bible condemn any sexual behavior except married heterosexual intercourse, it also says that if we just look at a person and desire him or her sexually, we are sinning against God; so much so that God calls it “committing adultery in our heart.” Don’t touch, unless it is your spouse, and don’t look lest you burn in Hell. And Evangelicals call this freedom?

I watch five NFL games a week — Monday, Thursday, and three on Sunday. Attractively dressed cheerleaders are often part of the games. Sometimes, one or more of the cheerleaders catches my attention. I say, nice, and I hit the replay button so I can confirm my observation. Yep, nice. On to the game.

No guilt.

No fear.

No quick prayer asking forgiveness.

Like a road trip on a beautiful fall day, I was just enjoying the scenery.

Here’s the difference between the “freedom” the Evangelical thinks he has and the true freedom I have as an atheist. The Evangelical has to feel guilty over being a healthy, normal heterosexual (or bisexual or homosexual) man. He dare not hit the replay button lest he lust and commit adultery in his heart. If he does hit the replay button, he must later confess his sin to God and promise to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again. And come football season, because he is a man with a normal, healthy libido, he will once again, with one eye covered, gaze upon the cheerleaders’ comeliness or the tight end’s nice ass. And as every time before, he will claim 1 John 1:9 (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) and promise God to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again.

Me, the godless atheist? I am free to enjoy life with all its pleasures without feeling guilty over being a normal, healthy (normal and healthy being subjective terms) heterosexual man.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

I Ran the Other Way When I Saw You

pretend like

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Son number four stopped over after work and he is sleeping on the couch. He is babysitting Bethany so Polly and I can go to Grand Rapids and eat pizza at a restaurant for which we have a Groupon.

Son number three dropped off his two youngest so we could babysit them for a bit. He knows that we are going out tonight and he said he would be on time to pick them up. I thought, sure you will.  Five p.m. and son number three walks through the door. He’s early. I make a mental note to put a gold star beside his name. Maybe he has finally learned to tell time.

Polly and I both scurried around getting ready for our big night on the town. As we got ready to walk out the door I said to Polly, I am driving tonight. She said, really? I gave her THAT look and took the keys. She is likely wondering if this will be her last day on earth.

After we picked up our mail, we drove east on Route 15. As I put the turn signal on  to turn left at The Bend Road, Polly said, what are you doing? I replied, I am going up to Route 6. Polly: No we need to take old Route 24. I said, I really think we need to take Route 6. No, she was certain we needed to take old Route 24. So we took Route 24.

I was right.

And we didn’t even fight about it.

Maybe there is hope for our marriage.

The pizza joint only had one waitress on the floor and was totally unprepared for the extra customers the Groupon would bring. It took her 20 minutes to get our drinks. The owner finally came out to help her take orders and proceeded to service the three tables that were seated after us. The pizza was okay, nothing special, and I doubt that we will drive 40 minutes to eat it again.

Before going home we decided to stop at Meijer in Defiance. Polly needed a belt and I needed acetaminophen to replace the government-mandated acetaminophen reduction in my Vicodin prescription.

As we walked in the door, I looked down the long main aisle by the registers and I saw Bob, a former church member. I thought, Oh shit. I told Polly, hurry . . . there’s Bob and I don’t want him to see us.  If it  were just him, all would be well, but I knew his wife Margo would not be far away (names changed to protect the guilty),

I met Bob and Margo almost 20 years ago when I pastored Olive Branch Christian Union Church in Fayette. When I left Olive Branch and moved five miles south to West Unity to start a church, they came along with me.

Bob is a quiet man, content to sit in the background and not say a word. Margo more than makes up for him, a constant talker regardless of whether she has anything to say.

Margo’s sister attended the church when she could. She was home-bound most of the time and couldn’t drive. Countless times we picked her up for church or took her to a doctor’s visit an hour away in Toledo. Her sister? Margo couldn’t be bothered and would demand gas money for every trip she made to her sister’s house.

Bob and Margo attended the church infrequently and never could get there on time. It was not uncommon for them to arrive at the morning service 20 minutes before it was over. I often wondered why they bothered.

When we remodeled the church nursery, Margo bought some Jesus Junk® to hang on the wall. (I could write a whole post on Jesus Junk® donated to the churches I pastored over the years. Lighted velvet Jesus anyone?) She wrote her name on the back of the plaque she paid a dollar for at a garage sale and told me she wanted it back if we ever stopped using it.  When we closed the church, with great delight, I threw the plaque away.

Somewhere in the late 1990s Bob and Margo stopped attending the church. According to Margo, I committed a terrible sin by allowing the women of the church to have a rummage sale IN the church building. Bob? He never said a word and followed Margo out the door.

Good riddance.

When I saw Bob I knew we needed to run as fast as we could. If they saw us they would — well she would — want to talk to us. Then we would have to spend 20 minutes pretending that we were friends.

I didn’t like Margo when I was her pastor. She was a gossipy, self-centered narcissist. I may have had to be her pastor, but I didn’t have to be her friend. So, when I saw Bob I knew we had to practice our avoidance technique, a skill we have honed to perfection since leaving the ministry and Christianity.

We got all of our shopping done and made our way to the checkout. As I looked down the long aisle I saw that Bob was still sitting there. I thought, nothing has changed. Still waiting on her to talk her way through the store. I told Polly, we need to check out on this end. Bob is still there. She replied, are you sure it is Bob? I said, yes I am sure.  So we used the self-checkout, bagged our purchases, and started to make our way out of the store . . .

I looked up for a moment and there were Bob and Margo. I thought, shit. I said to Polly, there they are . . . hurry. I DON’T want to talk to them. We quickly made our way out the door and into the parking lot, avoiding having to play the Fake Friends Game® for the umpteenth time.

I used to feel guilty when I avoided former church members in the store, but I don’t anymore. Most of them aren’t like Bob and Margo, but coming face to face with them still requires us to make polite talk without mentioning the horns that are on our heads. Everyone knows that Pastor Bruce Gerencser is now an atheist. They read the letters in the paper and they have bumped into other Christians who have said, DID YOU KNOW? By now, I assume everyone knows.

So we avoid people. This is not the kind of people we are, but we hate chit-chatting and pretend-we-are-friends conversations. It is not that we hate them personally or dislike them. It’s just that we don’t have anything in common with them any more. I am sure some of them have done the same thing when they see Polly and me in the distance at one of the local stores.

How about you? How do you deal with running into people from your Christian past? Do you avoid them? Do you feel uncomfortable talking to them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser