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.
(Please see Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Thomas Griffin Leaves His Wife’s Alleged Crimes in the Lord’s Hands)
Shannon Griffin, an IFB pastor’s wife and a kindergarten teacher at Jordan Baptist School in Burbank, Illinois, was arrested Monday and charged with sexual assault and solicitation of child pornography. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Shannon Griffin, 49, of Oak Lawn, a teacher at Jordan Baptist School, was taken into custody Monday after a monthslong investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators allege that Griffin “engaged in sexual conduct” with a male underage student who was enrolled at the school, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Griffin is also charged with sending nude pictures and videos of herself to that minor and another juvenile at the school, both males, and asking the minors to send her images, according to the sheriff’s office.
The alleged conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of this year, police said.
Griffin, who is also charged with distribution of harmful materials and grooming, is expected to appear in bond court on Wednesday.
The investigation began in early March when the Burbank Police Department received an anonymous tip, according to Burbank police records obtained through a public records request. The tipster also told police that the school pastor, who is married to Griffin, and the principal were made aware about the inappropriate videos and images, according to the police records.
During an interview with detectives, the student said that a female teacher sent images and videos showing a woman “removing her clothing and exposing her breasts and vagina,” according to Burbank police records. The student also gave police a Samsung Galaxy tablet, which he said he used to make copies of the messages, the police records indicate.
Burbank detectives who reviewed the messages noted the images did not show “a visible head or face of the female,” according to Burbank police reports.
Jordan Baptist School is owned and operated by Jordan Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. Jordan Baptist is pastored by Thomas Griffin, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College. Currently, both the church and school websites are down. A cached page says the following about Pastor Griffin:
Thomas Griffin, Pastor of Jordan Baptist Church, Burbank, Illinois, was born in Toledo, Ohio. He is a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College and previously worked for his home church of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, Temperance, Michigan; and as an Assistant Pastor of Jordan Baptist Church for five years. Pastor Griffin was called to Jordan Baptist Church in 1997. Since becoming pastor, Jordan Baptist Church has seen great advancements both numerically and spiritually. Several new ministries have also been started under his pastoral leadership.
He and his wife Shannon have been married since 1991 and have three daughters: ***, ***, and ***. He loves his church and has a tremendous burden for the Chicago area, and even through busy ministries and growth, Jordan Baptist Church has maintained its close-knit family atmosphere with a passion for serving people.
Griffins’ adult daughters also teach at Jordan Baptist School — an unaccredited institution.
Update, July 3, 2019
The Chicago Tribune reports Shannon Griffin had her first court appearance today. Lori Levin, Griffin’s attorney, said her client “vehemently denies that it’s her in the photos.”
Cook County Judge John Mahoney ordered Griffin held on a $750,000 bond. He also ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victims in the case or with any minors.
Police said the inappropriate conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of 2019. Prosecutors said there are two victims. The first is a male student who was between 15 and 17 during the alleged crimes. Prosecutors said Griffin and the student had sex five times, often in her minivan in an industrial park, and a sixth time after he graduated. It was usually in exchange for a bottle of alcohol.
“In 2013, the victim asked the defendant on Snapchat if she would get a bottle. The defendant said, ‘Yes, if we have sex,'” Gruca said.
The second victim was a 16-year-old student who prosecutors said communicated with Griffin over Snapchat several times. The victim started taking screenshots of several pictures and video Griffin allegedly sent him, “One picture depicts the front of the defendant from the neck down in her bra and underwear with a message written across the picture, ‘warm out of the shower missing uuuu,'” Gruca said.
Both victims also told investigators Griffin has a tattoo of an arrow on her left hip. Griffin’s attorney did not answer whether or not Griffin has the tattoo after the judge asked her in court today.
After hearing the details the judge said, “This is a horrible betrayal. It boggles my mind…what a betrayal.”
I am a transgender woman who survived sexual abuse by a priest when I was an altar boy. So, of course, I am outraged when I hear about male clergy members or ecclesiastical officials who sexually exploit children.
I can’t help but to think that such abuse by female prelates, or the wives of men of the cloth, is under-reported in much the same way sex abuse by male clergy was not long ago. One problem is that some people see a woman taking advantage of a boy as a sort of rite of passage for him, as if she were his first girlfriend. And it’s a lot easier to turn into a palatable (for some, anyway) made-for-TV movie than a story about a priest (or any man) using a boy for sex.
I have a crude assumption Shannon Griffin affiliates with the Republican Party. I’ve scanned a couple articles looking for corroboration. None found. However, Protestant evangelical. Wife of pastor. Midwestern. Many Republicans preach against immorality and homosexuality, later to be found engaged in sex crimes. All soft indicators, I know. Bet I’m right. What do you think??
I have no doubt she’s a Republican.
I have no doubts that you both are idiots. Is that all you can take from this story?
Is that all you took from the story?