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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Todd Spain, Jr. Accused of Assaulting His Wife

todd spain jr

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.

In July 2019, Todd Spain, Jr, a youth pastor at Crossroads Church in Pelham, New Hampshire, was accused of coaxing his wife to ledge while they were out hiking and hitting her over the head with a rock. Allegedly, the couple had been arguing over Spain’s admission of an affair.

The Eagle-Tribune reported at the time:

Pelham resident Todd Spain Jr., 26, was indicted in Carroll County Superior Court last month for second-degree assault, according to a court clerk. He is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence simple assault, the clerk said.

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A probable cause affidavit written by Carroll County Sheriff’s Detective Brian King says the assault took place Saturday, July 6.

King said in his report that Spain’s wife, Molly Spain, called police for help from the Boulder Loop Trail in Albany, New Hampshire, at about 3 p.m. She told police that she would be running down the mountain to meet emergency responders.

“She stated that she and Todd got into an argument after he admitted to having an affair,” King’s report states. “When she turned to leave the mountain, she was struck in the back of the head with a rock. She said that she fell to the ground, and that Todd fell on top of her.”

According to the affidavit, “She said that she had to kick and punch him to get him off of her. She suffered apparent minor injuries. She was transported to Memorial Hospital in Conway, New Hampshire.”

At the hospital, she told police she was “in fear of her life,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states Spain kept insisting that his wife go with him to the edge of one of the cliffs along the trail.

According to the affidavit, the victim said, “I thought he was going to push me off the edge and kill me.”

She also told police Spain kept putting his arm around her neck and asking what she would do if he choked her, but he never actually did.

Spain’s suggestion to go on a hike was odd from the get-go, according to the affidavit.

“Todd is not active, and has never wanted to hike or do anything outside in the past,” King reported the wife saying.

The victim was granted an emergency restraining order, according to the document.

King wrote that Spain admitted to police that he hit his wife in the head with the rock and gave written and audio statements to that effect.

Spain’s father, Todd, Sr is the pastor of Crossroads Church. (Nepotism is common in Evangelical churches.) After his arrest, Todd, Jr. resigned or was fired from his position at the church. His father denies that there is any connection between his son’s alleged crime and employment termination.

Yesterday, the Eagle-Tribune reported:

Todd Spain Jr., a former youth minister at Crossroads Church indicted for assaulting his wife, avoided a jury trial scheduled to start last week as his attorney and a prosecutor explore settlement options.

Deputy Carroll County Attorney Steven Briden filed paperwork on Feb. 19, the day before trial was set to begin, to inform a judge that both parties would like to participate in a settlement conference.

Briden explained that settlement conferences are frequently “a useful tool in trying to find a resolution to a case without having to put everyone through the difficulties of a trial.”

Briden, Spain Jr. and his attorney Kirsten Wilson will meet with retired Judge Peter Fauver, who will evaluate the case and try to see if a plea resolution can be found without going to trial.

They are scheduled to meet March 4, according to court documents. If a decision is not made that day, a trial will begin soon after.

After Spain, Jr. was arrested, former leaders at Crossroads accused him of sending their daughter sexually explicit texts in 2013.

The Eagle-Tribune reported at the time:

News of the arrest incited memories of a 2013 situation involving Spain Jr., who was 19 at the time, and a 14-year-old girl who regularly attended a Crossroads youth group.

According to Michele and Ken Woonton, the girl’s parents, their daughter received sexual text messages from Spain Jr. when she was a minor. She responded, they said, but quickly became uncomfortable and brought the messages to the attention of church staff.

The Woontons said they were told by Spain Sr. that his son’s behavior was the result of a pornography addiction. He was sent to a family member’s house in the South “to heal” for several weeks, the family recalls.

The couple said they were disturbed when Spain Jr. came home to Pelham and his dad, the pastor, had the idea to appoint his son to lead middle and high school-aged kids in the youth ministry.

The Woontons went to police about the text messages, they said, but were told no crime had been committed.

At the family’s request, police would have gone to talk to Spain Jr., they said. But the family declined.

Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark said there is no record of the call and there are no other complaints involving Spain Jr.

Two other couples in leadership positions at the time have confirmed the Woonton’s account of what happened six years ago, including how the Spain family kept it concealed from the general church population and went against all of their wishes to keep Spain Jr. away from kids.

Several attempts to contact the Spains or anyone at Crossroads Church have been unsuccessful.

“Our coming forward is about transparency,” Ken Woonton said. “This is not about a church. This is not about religion. It’s about leadership. There are going to be members of that congregation that want to defend it. But we want to empower them to question their leadership about whether they’re protecting their children.”

At the time of the February 2013 incident with his daughter, Ken Woonton was a church trustee. His family was involved at Crossroads since its inception in 2001.

“When Todd Jr. came home and his father approached my husband about making him a youth leader, that was the beginning of the end for us,” said Michelle Woonton. “It was insane.”

Spain, Jr graduated in 2011 from nearby Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His Facebook page lists him taking college classes at Boston Baptist College, Baptist Bible College, and Louisiana Baptist University — all Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institutions.

On September 11, 2019, Crossroads Church released the following statement:

There was an article in a local paper about a youth minister of this church. We cannot comment on the personal and legal issues involving Todd Spain Jr. and his wife. We can state that Todd Spain Jr. is no longer employed by the church for reasons other than the legal charges mentioned in the article. His employment ended on Monday July 8th. Unfortunately, we cannot provide details of confidential employment issues. Crossroads remains committed to providing spiritual guidance to all of its members and we pray for the wellness of those involved in this situation.

This is the first and last statement released by the church.

10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    CarolK

    Todd Spain, jr is lucky that he was only accused of assault and not attempted murder. I know of three cases where a man has killed his wife by pushing her off a cliff. In one case in Wyoming, he not only killed his wife but their little boy as well. (That’s Mystery on Lost Dog Road on Dateline NBC; the rerun of the show is shown on Discovery ID, Oxygen and OWN occasionally.) Molly Spain is very lucky that she escaped with her life.

  2. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Sticks and stones will break my bones
    And the cheating Youth Pastor will also murder me.
    By the way,
    “Crossroads remains committed to providing spiritual guidance
    to all of its members and we pray for the wellness of those involved in this situation.”
    Cow-plops.

  3. Avatar
    Ian for a long time

    Churches worry about their image, so they sweep this under the rug. They need to look at this from the outside in.

    If a church were to admit that someone was fired, put on unpaid administrative leave, etc., due to allegations (innocent until proven guilty, and all of that), then they could get ahead of the story. Let people know that you care about them, not the reputation of the church. Yes, the unsaved masses would talk shit about the person and the church, but there would be just a little respect that they had the gumption to distance themselves from the situation and are making steps to correct it.

    People in churches rarely come forward and confess when they are in the middle of a sinful lifestyle. They only come and confess after they have been caught. I had no respect for those people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone come forward and admit a sin, and no one knew about it. Gossip in the church is a powerful force and almost everyone knew who was coming forward to confess what long before the service started.

    Does anyone remember a person who confessed before being caught?

  4. Avatar
    Jim Peters

    It’s actually worse then that… to cover up his sons attempt to have sec with a 13 year old… the Sr pastor fired one of the pastors who tried to report the misconduct and then got rid of deacons (church leaders) and a trustee of the church. All of them tried to stop the actions of the Sr Pastor when he then proposed to hire his pedophile son to be the YOUTH PASOTR!!!!! So the Sr Pastor removed all those who tried to stop it and then made them leave the church. And then hired his son! Now this youth pastor tries to kill his wife after having an affair with young lady that was on the church!!!!! The Sr pastor is to blame!!! This would have never happened. Nepotism! And EVIL!!

  5. Avatar
    John

    Jim, you are horribly miss informed. Were you in the church when the entire congregation had a Q and A with the Pastor and asked any question they had about both incidents? If you were I’m sure you’d be better informed.
    I’ve seen the emails from the woontons when the first incident occurred which paints a very different story than what was in the paper. Solicitation of a minor is a crime. Two separate police chiefs reviewed the text and said no crime was committed. Were they inappropriate? Yes, but it was in no way an attempt to have sex with a minor as you suggest. The Pelham Police chief said it Was a game called 13 questions that she was also playing with other guys as well that became more sexual in nature as the questions progressed. Still very inappropriate for a youth leader to engage in which is why he was sent to counseling.
    I can go on in on….

  6. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    John, It is a long time custom for evangelicals to ‘disappear’ problems and when the lad was sent to counseling (ha!) it simply means he was sent on a trip to have some more preaching, the same preaching that landed him in the situation to begin with… This is the primary fault in extreme belief religious experience. It is based in denial and fear and will continue to fail as time goes on. This fellow will reoffend because that is what extreme religious instruction teaches. You, sir, may be much more misinformed than Jim!

  7. Avatar
    Jim Peters

    Not misinformed at all, I’ve seen the text messages…. who in the right mind hires someone to work with kids after they text a JR High girl, asking her what she considers to be sex! He then asks her if penetrating would be sex! Along with so much more! I am not misinformed! The Bible is clear that a pastor should be blameless, above reproach…. all of which neither of the Spain’s are! You are blind and brainwashed to allow this to happen, it’s evil! I’ll paste the verse in case you haven’t opened your bible up in a while.

    “So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or be a bully. Instead, they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy. They should manage their own household well—they should see that their children are obedient with complete respect, because if they don’t know how to manage their own household, how can they take care of God’s church? They shouldn’t be new believers so that they won’t become proud and fall under the devil’s spell. They should also have a good reputation with those outside the church so that they won’t be embarrassed and fall into the devil’s trap.”
    ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭3:2-7‬

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      Jim, as much as a pastor “should” be this, that, or the other thing, rather a lot of them are not. When it comes to vetting One’s earthly representatives, your god really dropped the ball.

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