Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor John Schouten Resigns Over Past Sex Crime

pastor john schouten

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.

John Schouten, pastor of Vineyard Grace Fellowship (VGF) in Newark (Heath), Ohio, recently resigned after it was discovered that Schouten had a sex crime in his past. While neither Schouten or VGF is willing to name the crime, an email sent to congregants stated Schouten did something that was “wrong, evil, and illegal.” The use of the word “illegal” narrows the field to: rape, sex with a minor, sexual assault of a minor, and a handful of other underage sex crimes.  According to the Newark Advocate, since the incident occurred 30 years ago, the statute of limitations has passed.

Much has been made of the fact that the crime in question was committed years ago, before Schouten was a Christian. VGF congregants are split over whether Schouten should stay or go. The former group believes that past sins are under the blood, cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness. The latter group believes that Schouten’s crime is such that he can no longer be their pastor. Both groups, according to the Newark Advocate, are threatening to leave if they don’t get their way. Currently, VGF has 1,500 members — the largest church in Licking County.

My wife and I lived in Newark from September 2004 to July 2005. We attended VGF six or so times. We enjoyed the preaching and the music and found the congregation to be friendly. They were too charismatic for us, so we did not stay.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Timothy Reddin Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

timothy reddin

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.

Timothy Reddin, pastor of Turner Street Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas, was arrested after he attempted to solicit an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old boy for sex. Previously, Reddin was convicted on child pornography charges and spent twenty-seven months in prison for his crimes.

Baptist News reports:

A former longtime Southern Baptist preacher whose ministry stalled 18 years ago when he went to prison for possessing child pornography is back in jail, this time for allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Timothy Lee Reddin, 67, was arrested Aug. 3 on a federal warrant for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. According to arrest documents, Reddin messaged an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent posing online as an underage male to arrange a meeting for sex.

….

In the past Reddin served Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas and Texas for three decades before pleading guilty in 2000 to possessing at least 10 illegal images, including one depiction of a child under 12.

Two years earlier he reportedly resigned as director of missions for Central Baptist Association in Benton, Arkansas, after two people found child pornography on a computer he used and confronted him over it.

Reddin went to prison for 27 months, after admitting to the sentencing judge that he had a weakness for child pornography but insisting would never actually molest a child. He blamed his porn addiction on sexual abuse he said he suffered at age 10 at the hands of an older boy.

Character witnesses including a fellow pastor argued for leniency, saying they believed Reddin felt remorse and was sincere about wanting to reform.

Fox-24 adds:

The undercover officer said he was on a website on July 27 in an unrelated undercover capacity when he received an unprovoked message from a website user with the profile name “Lee,” according to the affidavit

“Lee” described himself in his profile as a 62-year-old white male, 6’1″, 215 pounds and married. The profile description said, “I just wanna have fun…I like younger guys. But hell, at my age that’s just about everybody! Discreet, intelligent, witty, professional guy. Love to meet new friends. Especially naked ones,” according to the affidavit.

The undercover officer began interacting with Lee after receiving the initial message from him.

Lee began the conversation by saying “I like your hashtag! I’m no fan of our lying Pres.” He then complimented the undercover officer, saying “You are wise beyond your years. :)”

As the conversation went on, Lee said, “Yeah, a good looking 18 yr old will get hit on a lot.” The undercover officer said he wasn’t 18 and that he was on the website while his parents were out of town.

Lee asked the undercover officer for his age. The undercover officer said he was going to turn 15 in November and wanted to be around like-minded guys, to which Lee asked, “Gay I suppose?”

As the conversation continued, Lee asked the undercover officer if he had sex other than masturbation. He then went on to tell the undercover officer that many men on the website will want to have oral sex with him.

Lee later asked the undercover officer what kind of sexual activity he is looking for and what he is ready for. Lee suggested starting with oral sex and to then move onto other types of sex. He also recommended taking it a step at a time, saying “Gay pron will be your friend for a while. :)”

The undercover officer then tells Lee that he’s looking for someone he can trust to be his first. Lee responds, “If I weren’t such an old fart I’d volunteer! Lol.”

After the undercover officer said he doesn’t care about age, Lee said, “I could meet you. No pressure to do anything you decide not to.” (sic)

Lee then said “Here’s what I have to offer” and sent graphic images of male genitalia.

Lee offered to meet the undercover officer the next day for a burger and then go somewhere private so he can “coach” him on oral sex.

The undercover officer told Lee that he felt he could trust him then jokingly asked if he is going to kidnap or kill him.

“Actually, I’m an axe murderer…,” Lee said. He then added, “I’m a gentle guy really. I’m a college teacher and a businessman.”

The undercover officer told Lee he couldn’t meet the next day. He and Lee discussed meeting another time, and Lee gave the undercover officer his phone number after the officer asked how to find Lee on the website at a late time. Lee says, “Text, don’t call. My name’s Lee.”

The undercover officer said Lee contacted him another time and offered to give him pointers on having sex for the first time and offered to assist him with his first sexual experience. Lee then said, “I’ll never tell! I could go to jail!”

Sure sounds like Reddin “reformed,” eh? How about he went right back to his predatory ways,because that’s what sexual predators do. Jesus can’t fix pedophiles, so it is up to the state to make sure the Reddins of the world do NOT have access to children. A mitigating factor was the fact that Reddin was molested as a teen. Sadly, all to often, those preyed upon become predators themselves.

Today, Reddin pleaded guilty to one count of attempted online enticement of a minor. The good pastor faces a minimum of ten years in prison.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Nick Arnold Charged With Online Solicitation of a Minor

nick arnold

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.

Nick Arnold, a former youth pastor at Shepherd of The Hills Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas, is accused of engaging in sexual conversations with underage girls and and asking them for nude photographs. Shepherd of the Hills is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — a Fundamentalist sect.  Arnold was working for ACTS Church Lakeway in Austin, Texas at the time of his arrest. ACTS Church is also affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

News-4 reports:

The arrest affidavit says the inappropriate conversations started more than a year ago.

The victim’s mother discovered the conversations and told police.

An arrest affidavit says Arnold coached at the girl’s school and investigators believe one or both girls attended Arnold’s religion class.

The pastor could not comment on the allegations other than to say he believes they’re an isolated incident. [ your beliefs don’t count for much here]

The letter also states Arnold left the church in June after accepting a job at ACTS Church Lakeway in Austin.

In a statement, the pastor of the church in Austin confirms an employee was arrested by Austin police for charges filed in San Antonio.

The pastor went on to say, “…as soon as we learned of his arrest, his employment was immediately terminated.”

Arnold lives in Austin and is out of jail on a $20,000 bond.

Black Collar Crime: Convicted Child Porn Lover Archie Foster is a Good Christian Man Now

archie foster

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.

Archie Foster, a self-described Evangelical evangelist,  spent thirteen years in prison after pleading guilty to twenty-nine counts of child pornography. He was released from prison last year. Foster, a registered sex offender, now operates a self-defense school that puts him in direct contact with children. According to Foster, “I’m trying to support my family. I’m trying to make a living. I spent 13 years in prison for looking at dirty pictures on the internet. I’ve never victimized anybody.”

Foster’s wife, a co-owner of Foster’s Self-Defense Academy  (a Christian ministry) in Laurel, Mississippi, told reporters that children need not fear her blood-washed, born-again husband:

He never harmed a child nor was accused of it. He WAS a porn addict like many men are and, if were honest, would admit to having had things come into their view they wish they had not seen. He got saved before going to prison and no longer looks at any type of porn and received a doctorate’s degree while in prison.

One man astutely pointed out that most men don’t look at CHILD porn, and that the argument that he didn’t touch any of the children “ignores the direct abuse committed against those kids to create the images for him to look at.” And let’s not forget that for someone to view child porn they have to go looking for it in the dark, shadowy corners of the internet. We are not talking about YouPorn here.  That Foster calls child porn “dirty pictures” reveals that he truly doesn’t get how heinous child porn really is. Worse, Foster doesn’t consider himself a pedophile, saying, “I was a productive member of the community before I offended. I wasn’t a pedophile then. I’m not a pedophile now.” According to Foster’s wife, her husband committed victimless crimes, and that they are now “Paying back is what we’re doing here. We are empowering people. We are giving people who have been abused the courage to leave, the courage to go forth and live their lives.” Man, that’s one big pile of bullshit.

Listen to Foster’s justification of his “ministry.” Be prepared to shovel when you are finished.

Information for this story was pulled from a Mississippi Clarion Ledger feature story by Jerry Mitchell. In the story, Mitchell reveals that churches are often safe havens for registered sex offenders, including those with ministerial aspirations. I encourage you to read the story. Before doing so, make sure you have a barf bag nearby. Trust me, you’ll need it.

Black Collar Crime: Tim Omotoso Trial FINALLY Underway

tim omotoso

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 read my previous report about Timothy Omotoso here.

After eighteen months of investigations and delays, the trial of famed Nigerian/South African pastor Timothy Omotoso has begun. Omotoso, pastor of multi-branch Jesus Dominion International Church in Durban, South Africa, stands accused of sexually molesting young women, rape, and human trafficking.

The Sunday Times reports:

Graphic details of how a 14-year-old girl was groomed to perform lewd sexual acts on controversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso were laid bare in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.

The state called its first witness to testify in the trial against Omotoso and his two co-accused‚ Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28‚ which has seen its fair share of grandiose shenanigans‚ including drum majorettes performing in front of the court building while two off-duty policewomen were thrown out onto the street.

On Wednesday Cheryl Zondi‚ now 22‚ told the court how at first she was in awe of Omotoso after watching clips of him performing “miracles” but soon became disillusioned by him after she realised the sexual acts he made her perform on him were nothing more than predatory sexual assaults.

Omotoso and his co-accused face 63 charges in total ranging from racketeering to sexual assault and rape allegedly committed across the country and abroad‚ including in Nigeria and Israel.

Please take time to watch the following short video. The victim’s testimony is heartbreaking, a poignant reminder of how “men of God” use religious terminology and persuasion to prey on vulnerable teenagers and women.

Video Link

Black Collar Crime: So Much Crime, So Little Time Issue

black collar crime
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.

angel mauricio ruiz

Evangelical Pastor Angel Mauricio Ruiz Accused of Sexually Assaulting Female Juvenile

Angel Mauricio Ruiz, pastor of Church Ministerio Cielos Abiertos, in Woodbridge, Virginia, has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor. According to the Alexandria News, Ruiz allegedly assaulted a female family member. He is being held without bond.

dustin colony-herrera

Evangelical Youth Pastor Dustin Colony-Herrera Arrested on Outstanding Warrant for Sexual Assault

Dustin Colony-Herrera, the former youth pastor at Yucaipa Christian Church (now called Active Church) in Yucaipa, California, was arrested in Oregon on an outstanding warrant for sexual assault. Colony-Herrera is accused of thirteen counts of lewd acts on a child, with sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims in a sex crime.

The Press Enterprise reports:

Herrera was taken into custody last week in Medford, Ore., after Jackson County sheriff’s deputies received a request from investigators assigned to the Riverside-based Inland Regional Apprehension Team to serve an arrest warrant on the defendant.Herrera was booked into the Jackson County Correctional Facility, where he’s being held in lieu of $3 million bail.

Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Carroll said an extradition proceeding to return Herrera to California is pending.

According to investigators, between 2000 and 2004, Herrera served as a youth group leader at what was then called the Yucaipa Christian Church, where he came into contact with numerous children.

Herrera resided in Calimesa at the time, and would allegedly bring minors from the group to his home, where he committed unspecified acts of molestation, Carroll said.

The alleged offenses were detailed in November by several victims, whose names were not released, after the now-adults came forward and gave statements to detectives at the sheriff’s Calimesa Station, according to Carroll.

donn ketcham

Evangelical Missionary and Serial Child Molester Don Ketcham Escapes Punishment for His Crimes

Please read my previous report on Ketcham.

Donn Ketcham, 87, an Evangelical Baptist missionary, will escape punishment for the decades-long molestation of children thanks to a judge declaring him incompetent to stand trial.

Wood-8 reports:

An Ottawa County judge ruled that Donn Ketcham, now 87, is incompetent to stand trial because he suffers from dementia.

Prosecutors told 24 Hour News 8 they don’t plan to appeal, which means the charge against him will be dismissed.

Ketcham’s alleged victims from his decades in Bangladesh — known then as MKs, or missionary kids — said the local case was their only chance for justice.

“As far as earthly justice, this was our one shot,” said Diana Durrill, of the Denver area, who said Ketcham molested her in the 1980s in Bangladesh.

Ketcham, who also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was never charged over the allegations in Bangladesh decades ago, in part because his missionary group covered up the alleged crimes.

In his decision filed last week, Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Jon Hulsing cited Ketcham’s age, the fact he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and his failing memory.

He is “unable to recall his attorney’s name, is unable to identify his medications, is unable to identify the date, has gotten lost when walking, obsesses over certain issues, forgets significant events, and becomes agitated,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

A state psychologist testified July 20 that Ketcham was competent to stand trial.

However, the judge wrote that “the state’s evaluator does not challenge the defense expert’s conclusion which deems defendant incompetent to stand trial.”

The judge said Ketcham would not be able to defend himself from the expected testimony of his accusers from his days in Bangladesh.

The judge also ruled that based on Ketcham’s and diagnosis, his mental abilities will continue to get worse.

“Accordingly, there is NOT a substantial probability that, if provided a course of treatment, defendant will attain competence within 15 months,” the judge wrote.

“There is no indication that defendant is malingering or in any way feigning incompetency,” according to the ruling.

Ketcham was a longtime doctor for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism missionary camp in Bangladesh. A report released in 2016 by ABWE says it confirmed he molested 18 children and five women there in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Many were the children of missionary parents.

But the missionary group initially covered it up, even after Ketcham admitted to “perverted sin” with Diana Durrill’s young sister, Kim James, starting when she was 12. He was in his 50s. He was never charged.

“He’s been able to dodge accountability and responsibility for a very long time,” Durrill said.

Instead, after being forced from the mission field, the doctor moved back to West Michigan and started practicing medicine in Allendale in 1989.

He was accused of molesting a local girl who was 4 or 5 in the late 1990s during a doctor’s visit at his office in Allendale, with her mom in the room. The girl first reported it in 2011, but the investigation went nowhere until the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department reopened it in response to a Target 8 report.

A judge ordered Ketcham, who lost his medical license in 2012, to stand trial in December 2016, but that was delayed to see if he was competent to stand trial.

gary smitherman

Baptist Children’s Pastor Gary Smitherman Convicted of Sexual Assault

Gary Smitherman, children’s pastor at  Friendship Baptist Church in Clanton, Alabama, was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

The Clanton Advertiser reports:

 Smitherman was convicted of one count of sexual abuse of a child under 12 on Aug. 3, a Class B felony.

“We are very happy with the sentence and glad this victim and her family can close this chapter and begin moving forward knowing this child predator will be staring at a prison cell for a long time,” said C.J. Robinson, the chief deputy district attorney for the 19th Circuit Judicial Office.

According to Robinson, trial testimony indicated that Smitherman was over the children’s ministry program at Friendship Baptist Church in Clanton and was tutoring a young female at his home with whom he had contact with through his position at the time with the church.

These tutoring sessions would last until late at night, and Smitherman began asking the victim to stay at his house overnight.

The offense that led to his arrest and conviction occurred in early 2017 at his home.

“He touched her inappropriately, and she told a member of her family,” Robinson said. “The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.”

timothy reddin

Baptist Pastor Timothy Reddin Arrested in Child Sex Sting

Timothy Reddin, pastor of Turner Street Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas, was arrested after he attempted to solicit an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old boy for sex. Previously, Reddin was convicted on child pornography charges and spent twenty-seven months in prison for his crimes.

Baptist News reports:

A former longtime Southern Baptist preacher whose ministry stalled 18 years ago when he went to prison for possessing child pornography is back in jail, this time for allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Timothy Lee Reddin, 67, was arrested Aug. 3 on a federal warrant for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. According to arrest documents, Reddin messaged an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent posing online as an underage male to arrange a meeting for sex.

….

In the past Reddin served Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas and Texas for three decades before pleading guilty in 2000 to possessing at least 10 illegal images, including one depiction of a child under 12.

Two years earlier he reportedly resigned as director of missions for Central Baptist Association in Benton, Arkansas, after two people found child pornography on a computer he used and confronted him over it.

Reddin went to prison for 27 months, after admitting to the sentencing judge that he had a weakness for child pornography but insisting would never actually molest a child. He blamed his porn addiction on sexual abuse he said he suffered at age 10 at the hands of an older boy.

Character witnesses including a fellow pastor argued for leniency, saying they believed Reddin felt remorse and was sincere about wanting to reform.

Fox-24 adds:

The undercover officer said he was on a website on July 27 in an unrelated undercover capacity when he received an unprovoked message from a website user with the profile name “Lee,” according to the affidavit

“Lee” described himself in his profile as a 62-year-old white male, 6’1″, 215 pounds and married. The profile description said, “I just wanna have fun…I like younger guys. But hell, at my age that’s just about everybody! Discreet, intelligent, witty, professional guy. Love to meet new friends. Especially naked ones,” according to the affidavit.

The undercover officer began interacting with Lee after receiving the initial message from him.

Lee began the conversation by saying “I like your hashtag! I’m no fan of our lying Pres.” He then complimented the undercover officer, saying “You are wise beyond your years. :)”

As the conversation went on, Lee said, “Yeah, a good looking 18 yr old will get hit on a lot.” The undercover officer said he wasn’t 18 and that he was on the website while his parents were out of town.

Lee asked the undercover officer for his age. The undercover officer said he was going to turn 15 in November and wanted to be around like-minded guys, to which Lee asked, “Gay I suppose?”

As the conversation continued, Lee asked the undercover officer if he had sex other than masturbation. He then went on to tell the undercover officer that many men on the website will want to have oral sex with him.

Lee later asked the undercover officer what kind of sexual activity he is looking for and what he is ready for. Lee suggested starting with oral sex and to then move onto other types of sex. He also recommended taking it a step at a time, saying “Gay pron will be your friend for a while. :)”

The undercover officer then tells Lee that he’s looking for someone he can trust to be his first. Lee responds, “If I weren’t such an old fart I’d volunteer! Lol.”

After the undercover officer said he doesn’t care about age, Lee said, “I could meet you. No pressure to do anything you decide not to.” (sic)

Lee then said “Here’s what I have to offer” and sent graphic images of male genitalia.

Lee offered to meet the undercover officer the next day for a burger and then go somewhere private so he can “coach” him on oral sex.

The undercover officer told Lee that he felt he could trust him then jokingly asked if he is going to kidnap or kill him.

“Actually, I’m an axe murderer…,” Lee said. He then added, “I’m a gentle guy really. I’m a college teacher and a businessman.”

The undercover officer told Lee he couldn’t meet the next day. He and Lee discussed meeting another time, and Lee gave the undercover officer his phone number after the officer asked how to find Lee on the website at a late time. Lee says, “Text, don’t call. My name’s Lee.”

The undercover officer said Lee contacted him another time and offered to give him pointers on having sex for the first time and offered to assist him with his first sexual experience. Lee then said, “I’ll never tell! I could go to jail!”

Sure sounds like Reddin “reformed,” eh? How about he went right back to his predatory ways,because that’s what sexual predators do. Jesus can’t fix pedophiles, so it is up to the state to make sure the Reddins of the world do NOT have access to children.

pastor jimmy orick

IFB Pastor Jimmy Orick Pleads Guilty to Rape

You can read my previous report on JImmy Orick here.

Jimmy Orick, pastor of Mountain View Independent Baptist Church in LaFollette, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to rape and attempted rape, According to the LaFollette Press, Orick has sex with a minor girl in his home.

robert browning

Baptist Christian School Teacher Robert Browning Accused of Sexually Assaulting Student

Robert Browning, a teacher at a Christian school run by Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Jacksonville,Florida, was arrested on charges of sexual battery, molestation and transmitting pornographic images to a girl under the age of 16.

News-4 reports:

He was a very good teacher and you would never know,” said Sally Blaney, whose children attend the Christian school run by Cedar Creek. “That person was old enough to know better and he should have never gone there.”

After the story of Browning’s arrest aired Tuesday, News4Jax received an anonymous tip that Browning had previously worked as a youth pastor at Old Plank Baptist Church and Christian Academy. The tipster, a mother of a child who attended youth services at Old Plank Road Baptist with Browning, was concerned that there could be other child victims who haven’t come forward.

Old Plank Baptist’s worship leader, who is also the school’s principal, reluctantly confirmed Browning had worked there, but had no other comment.

The mother who called described Browning as being overly friendly with children when he worked there six years ago.

“We’re very concerned,” she said. “I always had that guy feeling, ‘Do I let her go on trips with the church?’ He was just, I thought, a little too close to the kids.”

She is worried there could be more victims than the one teenager he was accused of having sex with at Cedar Creek’s school. She’s even concerned he could have had inappropriate contact with her daughter.

….

School officials with Cedar Creek said they were told by Browning that he was that let go from Old Plank Baptist because of a dispute with faculty.

Browning had a clean record before his arrest Saturday. Cedar Creek officials said they conducted extensive background checks on Browning before he was hired, and he passed with no problems.

An earlier News-4 report adds:

The victim’s father said he discovered the inappropriate relationship when he checked his daughter’s cellphone and found she and Browning were exchanging nude photos and lewd text messages.

“I found everything,” the father said.

According to the arrest report, the girl said she performed consensual oral sex on Browning at the church while he touched her inappropriately. Investigators found text messages between Browning and the girl about the incident.

The father said he is furious and feels betrayed by someone who was supposed to be a mentor to his child.

According to his arrest report, Browning turned himself in to police Saturday and has retained a lawyer.

Pastor John Montgomery of Cedar Creek Baptist said the school took swift and immediate action, terminating Browning immediately.

Montgomery said Browning, like all employees, was fingerprinted and checked with the FBI when he was hired six years ago.

“Of all people, I would have never ever thought that something like that could have happened,” Montgomery said. “We live in a fallen world, and people do things that absolutely shock you.”

In addition to terminating Browning and trying to support the victim’s family, Montgomery said the church was also increasing security and adding more surveillance cameras “to make sure this can’t happen again.”

The father said this is having a devastating effect on his relationship with his daughter.

“It’s torn my family apart. My daughter doesn’t want to speak to me anymore,” the man told News4Jax. “I’m actually glad this is getting out because this is so sick and people really need to pay attention to who they’re hiring and who their kids are with. We live in a sick world.”

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Corey Butler’s Child Porn Trial Begins November 6

corey butler 4

“Dr.” Corey D. Butler, pastor Jesus is the Way Christian Center, DeKalb, Illinois

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 2015, Corey Butler, pastor of Jesus is the Way Christian Center in DeKalb, Illinois was charged with “possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.” The 34-year-old Butler was arrested after the “Illinois Crimes against Children Task Force learned child pornography was being distributed from a computer at Butler’s address.” Butler admitted being on an adult porn site, but denied possessing or distributing child pornography. I wrote about this story here.

In April 2017, I wrote a post about Butler considering a plea deal. Butler decided to go to trial instead. In November 2017, I mentioned Butler’s lawyer’s attempt to use legal maneuvers to suppress the child porn found on his client’s computer.

Three years later, Butler still hasn’t had his day in court. According to the Daily Chronicle, the court has scheduled a November 6, 2018 trial date. Astoundingly, Butler is still the pastor of Jesus is the Way Christian Center.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Charles Pelky Accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct

charles pelky

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.

Charles Pelky, pastor of Avon Community Church in Avon, Minnesota, stands accused of having sex with a female church member he was counseling.

KARE-11 reports:

Charles Norman Pelky, age 49, is pastor of the Avon Community Church. Avon Police received information from a church member on July 11 that Pelky was having a sexual relationship with another parishioner during what were supposed to be ongoing counseling sessions. Avon Police turned the case over to the Stearns County Sheriff’s department citing a conflict of interest, as Pelkey was at that time Chaplain for the Avon P.D.

Stearns County investigators say the victim in this case first began going to Pelkey in 2012 for family counseling, and again in 2017 for religious and spiritual guidance. She was still in counseling when Pelkey reportedly started a sexual relationship with the woman in March of 2018, continuing it until May of this year.

A criminal complaint details how the victim told investigators that the counseling sessions started with Pelkey providing her with books and scriptures, and joining her in prayer. In February of 2018, however, the victim says Pelkey moved the sessions to a more secluded part of the church, and the counseling became more intimate in tone. She says Pelkey expressed having sexual feelings towards her, and in March and April the victim tells authorities the two had sexual relations at least three times.

Minnesota Law prohibits a member of the clergy from engaging in a sexual act during the course of a meeting (one time, or ongoing) with a victim seeking or receiving religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort from the suspect in private.

Consent is not a defense.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Sunday School Teacher and Accused Rapist Jonathan Young Has Bond Reduced

jonathan young

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, I reported that Jonathan Young, a Sunday school teacher at Firstborn Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — in Benson, North Carolina was accused of raping several church girls.  WRAL-5 reported that Young had been charged with ” six charges of first-degree rape of a child, three charges of statutory rape, two charges of first-degree sexual offense and two charges of indecent liberties with a child.” The charges against Young covered alleged crimes committed between 2004 and 2014.

Since then, former church members Cherith Roberson and Beka Faust accused Firstborn Baptist leadership of operating a cult. WRAL reported:

It began with the arrest of a Sunday school teacher on 13 charges of sexually assaulting children earlier this month.

Now, investigators with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office are speaking with more people who have come forward to say they too were molested or abused in other ways at the church.

Some of those same people have reached out to WRAL News, saying they will no longer be silent.

Not unlike the opaque windows of the Firstborn Baptist Church in Benson that let in very little light, seven former members tell us there is a dark climate within those church walls.

“There’s this culture of fear and you have to obey the ultimate leader and authority,” said Cherith Roberson, 32, a former church member. “And it starts from the beginning.”

Roberson’s family joined when she was 7 years old.

“It was taught, it was preached about, that you break a child’s spirit. And you do that by whatever means necessary,” she said.

Her little sister, Beka Foust, was just 5 years old.

“I knew this was not normal,” Foust said. “I didn’t know what normal was.”

The sisters said all the children attended school at church. They said they were told what to wear, what to believe, and were not allowed contact with anyone on the outside.

“You were ostracized from everybody else,” Foust said.

And they said there were serious consequences for breaking rules.

“They would put me in the closet with a light out and I would just sit there all day,” Foust said. “I was allowed to eat once.”

“There was a lot of physical and emotional abuse that went way beyond spanking,” Roberson said. “From spanking, to beating, there was a huge paddle in the church school that I attended.”

They said church members were publicly humiliated from the pulpit and children were beaten so others could hear their screams.

Sadly, nothing surprising here. Typical cultic behavior by IFB preachers who use the Bible to abuse congregants and force them to “obey” the church’s interpretation of its words.

In September, Young’s bond was reduced from $1 million to $400,000. The church denies any and all accusations levied against Young and church leaders.

Black Collar Crime: Mennonite Missionary James Arbaugh Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes

james arbaugh

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 December 2017, I wrote about James Arbaugh, a Mennonite missionary in Haiti, who had been charged with “grooming and/or having sexual contact with approximately 21 males under the age of 18.” Arbaugh attended Mountain View Mennonite Church in Lyndhurst, Virginia.

At the time, The Mennonite reported:

James Daniel Arbaugh, a Mennonite missionary, has been arrested and charged with molesting children while serving in Haiti. On Nov. 21, The Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia, reported that Arbaugh was arrested on Nov. 15 by a U.S. Homeland Security special agent. Court records show that Arbaugh, 40, was charged with felony coercion or enticement of a minor. Arbaugh attended Mountain View Mennonite Church in Lyndhurst, Virginia, a former Mennonite Church USA congregation, and was a board member for Walking Together for Christ Haiti.

The criminal complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, states that “Arbaugh reported grooming and/or having sexual contact with approximately 21 males under the age of 18.” Arbaugh disclosed the abuse to a counselor during a Sept. 11 session. In Virginia, health-care providers are mandated to report child abuse to social services. According to the Daily News-Record, social services contacted the Harrisonburg Police Department, who then contacted federal agents.

Arbaugh traveled to Haiti from 2009 to 2015. According to a website where he documented his mission work, Arbaugh was a self-supporting “tentmaker” partnering with Walking Together for Christ in Haiti and involved in “media ministry.” The last post on the site is from July 2.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 15, Arbaugh allowed police to look at his laptop and showed police a picture of a 5-year-old boy, the son of a pastor at a church in Haiti, on the computer. The complaint states that Arbaugh confessed to molesting the boy.

The complaint states, “Arbaugh indicated he used his missionary work in Haiti to build friendships with the minors. Arbaugh acknowledged that he groomed the minors in Haiti by engaging in minor sexual activities with them so that one day they would be open to more.”

….

According to Lynn Suter, VMMissions Director of Operations and International Ministries, VMMissions has not partnered with Walking Together since its incorporation in 2015. Prior to that time, Suter says, VMMissions was engaged in intermittent work in Haiti and sent six short-term missions teams from 2003-2010. VMMissions is reviewing its records to determine the extent of its connections to Arbaugh. VMMissions has not found record of James Arbaugh having been employed as a missionary by VMMissions. VMMissions is calling on individuals with information about Arbaugh’s connections to the organization to contact Suter (lynn.suter@vmmissions.org). According to Suter, VMMissions and the Walking Together board will work to contact individuals in Haiti that Arbaugh may have been connected to.

Suter says that VMMissions first learned in September that Arbaugh had returned to the United States to receive professional counseling for unnamed “sexual sins.” VMMissions was told that Arbaugh was aware that if he divulged anything about his behavior that was illegal, the counselor would be legally required to report it to the authorities. VMMissions did not learn more about Arbaugh’s behavior until the Daily News-Record article was published on Nov. 21. VMMissions does not have information regarding the time frame when Arbaugh’s misconduct occurred.

“VMMissions strongly condemns the abuse Mr. Arbaugh has confessed and is alleged to have committed. We are heartsick for the victims and for the grievous misrepresentation of Christ and his church by someone who should have been trustworthy,” wrote Suter in a Nov. 30 email.

Suter says that VMMissions has procedures both to assess the fitness and conduct of individuals who apply for service with VMMissions, including criminal background checks.

“The revelation of Mr. Arbaugh’s conduct compels us to more closely examine the character and conduct of persons who are not appointed or employed with us but with whom we associate on the field and their own systems of accountability,” she wrote.

….

Arbaugh later pleaded guilty and in July was sentenced to twenty-three years in federal prison.

Fox News reported:

Brian Benczkowski, who leads the Justice Department’s criminal division, described Arbaugh as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“He posed as a selfless missionary when in reality he was exploiting his position to prey on and sexually abuse vulnerable children in one of the most impoverished areas of the world,” Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general, said in a news release.

Arbaugh was arrested last year after telling a Virginia counselor that he had sexual contact with minors in Haiti. A federal affidavit filed by a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations said he told investigators that he groomed or had sexual contact with at least 21 Haitian boys.

The sentencing of Arbaugh comes months after Daniel Pye of Arkansas, a missionary who operated a well-known orphanage in the scenic coastal town of Jacmel, received a 40-year sentence in the U.S. for sexually abusing vulnerable Haitian youngsters in his care.

Haitian child advocate Gertrude Sejour said foreign church groups who fund the work of missionaries in Haiti need to do a far better job ensuring that they’re not working with sexual predators or shipping them overseas.

“There’s far too many children being abused,” said Sejour, of the Haitian advocacy group Maurice Sixto Foundation.

Brian Concannon, executive director of the Boston-based advocacy group Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said Arbaugh’s sentence sends a strong message but would be more powerful if more people were getting prosecuted.

“I think it’s clear that there’s a lot more abuse happening that isn’t being prosecuted,” Concannon said in a phone interview.

Arbaugh worked as a missionary with a group called Walking Together for Christ Haiti and described himself on a personal blog as an evangelist and religious film producer. Attempts to reach his lawyer were unsuccessful.

Black Collar Crime: So Much Crime, So Little Time Issue

black collar crime

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.

matthew and lauren phelps

Matthew Phelps Pleads Guilty to Murdering His Wife

I previously wrote about Matthew Phelps in posts titled Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor-in-Training Matthew Phelps Accused of Murdering His Wife and Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Preacher Matthew Phelps Stabs His Wife Repeatedly, Blames Cough Medicine.

Last week, Phelps pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the September 2017 death of his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps. Baptist News reports:

Defense attorney Joe Cheshire said his client suffered from untreated depression, anxiety and low self-esteem his entire life. Born to a 17-year-old unwed mother, he was raised by “deeply conservative Christian” grandparents who were farmers and unable to give him the attention he needed.

In high school he was introduced to Goth music, Satanism and eventually kicked out when he got caught abusing cold medicine. He transferred to a Christian school, where he turned around to become one of the best students and “a wonderful preacher.”

“As crazy as this may sound, he was a real Christian,” Cheshire said.

Phelps continued to preach and do well in college and “met what he thought was the love of his life.”

“Now there is some dispute as to how that marriage broke up or why, but we do know that she went on a mission trip alone after three years of their marriage and came back and told him that she fell in love with another man on her mission trip, and shortly thereafter left Matt and married this man,” the lawyer said.

After moving to North Carolina, Cheshire said, Phelps worked at various jobs where he met people “who took him to a bad place” that caused him to squander the family’s savings into video gaming. He was obsessed with American Psycho, a 2000 movie starring Christian Bale about an investment banker with a double life as a psychopathic killer, and reportedly told others he wondered what it would feel like to kill someone.

When his double life was discovered and his second wife was about to leave him, Cheshire said, Phelps “snapped, and what happened happened.”

At the end of the hearing, Phelps apologized for what he called “a senseless, mindless act.”

“I feel like a monster, one of the wretched, a part of the darkness we don’t speak of,” he said. “That darkness consumed me until I was blind to the path I had taken and deaf to my own cries for help. That darkness caused me to do the unimaginable, to take a life that was not mine to take.”

“No length of time will ease my inner sorrow or relieve me of the memory of such a godless act as my hands — which I thought incapable of doing — have committed, and I will have to live with the rest of my life with these hands as a constant reminder,” Phelps said.

“I hope my life will be an example of the consequences of those who think that drinking, drugs and carelessness will only affect themselves and no one else,” he said. “Be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatosoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”

Satan, booze, drugs, untreated depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and whatever the hell “carelessness” is, are blamed for Phelps’ murderous behavior.

brian batke

Another Cloverdale Church Leader Accused of Sex Crimes

In October 2017, I wrote a post about the alleged sexual assault allegations levied against Samuel Emerson, pastor of Cloverdale Church in Surrey, British Columbia, and his wife Madelaine. The Emersons have since pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Last week, Brian Batke, a former church elder, was accused of sexual assaulting a minor. News Vancouver reports:

… allegations against Batke date all the way back to 2005. The elder ended his association with the church that same year, according to police.

Surrey RCMP said the allegations against Batke, which were not reported to them until 2017, involve a victim who was underage at the time.

CTV News does not identify victims of sexual assault, and the case is subject to a publication ban that otherwise prevents identifying information from appearing in the media.

Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church did not return calls for comment from CTV News on Thursday, and 72-year-old Batke was not interested in speaking about the case outside court.

“No comment,” Batke said.

Apart from Batke’s association with the church, authorities revealed he has been a driver for the Coast Mountain Bus Company for about 13 years.

“We are releasing details on his community associations and employment because our investigators feel there may be other victims who have yet to come forward,” Cpl. Elenore Sturko said. “They’re looking to talk to these people, if they’re willing.”

TransLink, which runs Coast Mountain Bus Company, told CTV News that Batke has been placed on administrative leave and won’t be returning to work pending the outcome of the case.

mitchell fields

Evangelical Pastor Mitchell Fields Accused of Rape

Mitchell Richards, pastor of True Grace Fellowship Community Church in Montgomery, Alabama, stands accused of raping a teenager. The Montgomery Advertiser reports:

A Montgomery pastor was charged with rape this month after a grand jury indicted him in connection to an investigation that began in 2017, according to police.

Mitchell Ray Fields, pastor of True Grace Fellowship Community Church, was arrested and released on a $75,000 bond Tuesday, according to court records.

Montgomery police Capt. Regina Duckett said Thursday morning that a sexual assault investigation began against Fields on Jan. 15, 2017. A grand jury returned an indictment against Mitchell on the charge late last month.

The victim, whom Fields is related to, was a teenager at the time of the alleged assault, Duckett said.

In 2014, AL.com featured a story about Fields’ “miraculous” conversion and his desire to reach gang-bangers, drug addicts, and prostitutes with the transformative gospel of Christ. Fields told the reporter, “I tell them if God can deliver me then he can deliver you.”

meally freeman

Evangelical Pastor Meally Freeman Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Woman During “Deliverance” Session

Monday, Meally Freeman, pastor of Grace Mountaineer Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, was convicted of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Earlier this year, WCCO reported:

According to the complaint, a 28-year-old woman reported she was sexually assaulted by her pastor, Freeman, at the Grace Mountaineer Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn Center. The victim told police that she knew Freeman for several years and considered him her spiritual father.

She said she was seeking spiritual guidance on September 20, 2017 and Freeman told her she needed a one-on-one session before bible study.

The complaint says that the practice of the church is to anoint parishioners with oil. At the session, Freeman allegedly gave the victim oil to drink and they began to pray. The victim said she then “fell out” or became unconscious as part of the religious ritual. When she woke up, she had oil on her chest and her clothing was wet. Freeman allegedly told the victim that he anointed all places, but that he didn’t see all places.

According to the complaint, Freeman told the victim she needed a second session later that evening after bible study. They were alone again. The victim again “fell out” or became unconscious. When she woke up, she found her pants and underwear – that were ripped — were around her ankles. Her shirt and bra were also pulled up over her chest.

Freeman allegedly was spraying the victim with a water bottle filled with oil and then proceeded to sexually assault the victim. After the session was over, Freeman told the victim to pick her daughter up from the babysitter because he did not want people to know how late she was at the church.

After leaving the church, the victim spoke with a friend who advised her she had not received “deliverance” but was sexually assaulted.

The victim confronted Freeman while secretly recording him and he did not deny touching the victim’s genitals. In the recording, Freeman admitted to anointing the victim’s chest and said “we insert things into people”, according to the complaint.

Freeman allegedly also said that his wife knows he sees women naked and that some things happen during the “deliverance” event and that “you don’t ask what happens, you don’t go into details and that deliverance can be very tempting.”

The victim said both Freeman and his wife tried to convince her not to report the incident to police.

jonathan jenkins

Baptist Youth Pastor Jonathan Jenkins Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen Girl

Jonathan Jenkins, youth pastor at Starlight Baptist Church in Santa Ana, California stands accused of violently sexually assaulting a twelve-year-old girl in the church’s restroom. KTLA-5 reports:

He [Jenkins] first targeted the victim, who was 12 years old at the time, in January, prosecutors said. He allegely touched the girl’s buttocks while she was at church.

“Sometime in March 2018, the victim was attending service when she went to what she believed to be an empty restroom,” Santa Ana police officials said in a statement. “Jenkins was inside the restroom waiting for the victim. The victim attempted to escape, but Jenkins held her against her will. Jenkins threatened the victim with physical violence before (choking) and sexually assaulting the victim.”

Jenkins then attempted to commit lewd acts on the girl in April, and committed another molestation in July, district attorney’s officials said.

The victim did not report what had happened and continued attending the church, police said.

“On August 5, 2018, Jenkins contacted the victim at church and mocked her about the sexual assault,” the police statement said. “Jenkins told the victim if she reported this to the police, he would say she allowed the sexual assault to occur.”

The girl ultimately came forward, officials said. Santa Ana police launched an investigation and arrested Jenkins Tuesday.

He has prior felony conviction for robbery in Los Angeles County in 1983 and burglary in Orange County in 1986, prosecutors added.

joshua clemons

Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Having Sex with Church Teens

Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado was sentenced last week to seven years in prison for having sexual relations with at least three female church teenagers.

9-News reports:

Joshua Mark Clemons, 35, was sentenced last week to four years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, followed by 10 years of sex offender intensive supervised probation in the Parker case. Clemons’ plea agreement calls for three years in a related Denver case.

Clemons lived in Denver when he was employed by the Crossroads Church on Twenty Mile Road in Parker between 2008 and 2015.

During that time, he engaged in sex abuse with at least three of his students and inappropriate behavior with others, a 39-page arrest affidavit says.

One girl, who was 17 at the time, told Parker Police that Clemons used his position as youth pastor to manipulate her and get close to her, the DA’s office said. The mother of another girl told police Clemons is “a master manipulator not only of students, but adults, as well.”

Clemons pleaded guilty July 23 in the Parker case to one count of sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 4 felony and one count of attempted sex assault on a child by one in a position of trust, a Class 5 felony. Other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Clemons will be sentenced in the Denver case next month. His 4-year sentence in the Parker case will run consecutively with the three-year sentence he faces in Denver.

I previously wrote about Clemons here and here.

Black Collar Crime: Youth Pastor Ryan Mutchler Accused of Trying to Have Sex with Teen Girl

ryan mutchler

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.

Ryan Mutchler, a youth pastor at Mountain Park Church in Lake Oswego, Orgeon, was arrested earlier this month on allegations that he tried to have a sexual relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl he met at youth camp. The Orgeonian reports:

Ryan Mutchler, 30, faces charges of second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and luring a minor after he was arrested Sept. 7, according to Beaverton police and Washington County court filings.

….

A pastor at Mountain Park Church in Lake Oswego, police say Mutchler met the girl during a weeklong camp at the end of June and soon began exchanging text messages with her.

….

The girl’s parents saw the texts and alerted authorities, the Beaverton police said.

An undercover detective later used the girl’s phone to have a text conversation with Mutchler, who expressed his desire to have a sexual relationship with the child, police allege.

Greg Borror, a senior pastor at Mountain Park Church, told the news website Patch on Monday that Mutchler was fired the day after his arrest.

A short bio on the youth pastor’s Twitter page, which has since been deleted, reads: “Love God. Love Others. Grow a Beard. Eat a Burrito. Drink Coffee.”

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