Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Another Day, Another Willow Community Creek Church Sex Scandal

robert sobczak 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.

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois, resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct. The church’s board also resigned after their colossal mishandling of the Hybel’s scandal. And now, Fox-32 reports that Willow Creek paid out $3.25 million to settle two civil sexual abuse lawsuits.

Robert Sobczak, Jr. a volunteer at Willow Creek, was convicted of sexually abusing an eight-year old church boy. He is now serving a seven year sentence for his crime. Sobczak, Jr. was also convicted of sexually abusing another church boy and given probation. The parents of these boys sued Willow Creek. The church settled the two lawsuits, paying  $1.75 million dollars to one family and  $1.5 million to the other.

Fox-32 reports:

At the time, we’re told Robert Sobczak Junior was a volunteer for the Barrington church. He’s now 24 years old, and serving a seven-year sentence for reportedly sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy.

He also pleaded guilty in 2013, the paper reports, for sexually abusing another disabled boy and received probation.

The Tribune reports there were warning signs about Sobczak, but the church failed to act. They have since settled two civil lawsuits with the boys’ families — one for $1.75 million dollars and the other for $1.5 million.

Willow Creek did not respond to FOX 32’s request for comment, but did pass along a statement calling the experience “heartbreaking” and insisting they’ve made changes.

“We have worked with law enforcement and security experts to learn how this happened and how we can ensure it never happens again,” the church said.

….

A November 2017 Daily Herald story says:

A Cook County judge has allowed an attorney to seek additional financial damages in a lawsuit against Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington on behalf of a special-needs boy who was molested there by an adult volunteer who admitted the sexual abuse.

Lawyer Kevin J. Golden’s case on behalf of the now 13-year-old Fox Lake boy against the church and Robert Sobczak, the volunteer in question, began in Cook County circuit court in February 2014. His client has autism, ADHD and a chromosomal disorder called DiGeorge syndrome.

Golden said the case has dragged on long enough.

“The church has fought this from Day One and has not taken responsibility,” he said. “We look forward to our day in court.”

Willow Creek issued a statement on the suit Tuesday.

“As this is a pending legal matter, we respect the privacy of the parties involved and are limited in what we can comment about at this time,” the statement says. “However, Willow Creek Community Church has done everything it can to assist in this investigation and litigation. We take very seriously the safety of children entrusted to our care and hope to have the opportunity to work to reach a resolution in this case.”

The suit alleges Willow Creek was negligent by not properly supervising Sobczak, 24, who records show remains in Graham Correctional Center in downstate Hillsboro for other sexual abuse convictions not involving the boy in the lawsuit. The former Hoffman Estates man received probation in December 2013 after pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse against that boy.

….

Court documents say the boy’s mother placed him in Willow Creek’s Promiseland program for special-needs children when she attended a church service on Feb. 17, 2013. The suit alleges Willow Creek did not enforce a rule that two adults were to be with the children at all times, leading to Sobczak’s removing the boy from a class and molesting him in a sensory room.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Orlando Martinez-Chavez Accused of Sexual Assault

orlando martinez chavez

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.

Orlando Martinez-Chavez, pastor of Iglesia Pentecostal Lirio de los Valles church in Jersey City, New Jersey, has been charged with sexually assaulting a ten-year-old church girl.

NJ.com reports:

A Jersey City church pastor has been charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl church member and fondling a relative — and a source said the pastor has threatened at least one other victim with deportation if she told anyone.

Orlando Martinez-Chavez, 47, was charged on July 27 and he was arrested on July 30, according to a criminal complaint.

….

He faces charges of sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal sexual contact.

Martinez-Chavez’s troubles started a month earlier, according to the source, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. Martinez-Chavez was removed from his position on June 26 after he was accused of sending graphic pictures and videos to a 32-year-old woman who attended the church, the source said.

The Rev. Joseph Andino, who oversees the Assemblies of God churches in northern New Jersey, could not be reached for comment. An official with the Iglesia Pentecostal Lirio de los Valles church, in the Heights neighborhood, declined to comment.

The 10-year-old victim is now 15, and she told authorities that Martinez-Chavez reached inside her pants and touched her genital area in November 2012, the criminal complaint said. The pastor’s relative also came forward with the allegation that the pastor — who is married and has three girls, ages 4, 10 and 18 — fondled her breasts over her clothing, the complaint said.

Another alleged victim, a 15-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by Martinez-Chavez two years ago, is too traumatized to come forward, the source said. When confronted by the girl’s mother, Martinez-Chavez threatened to have the family, which is undocumented, deported, the source said.

The alleged victim and her family, former congregants, left the church and moved out of state almost immediately, the source said.

Martinez-Chavez had been with the Jersey City Heights storefront church for six or seven years, the source said.

“I think there are a lot more victims,” the source told The Jersey Journal. “They are scared. They were threatened. These people are all illegal immigrants. He targeted them because he knows they are afraid.”

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor David Croyle Charged With Sexual Assault

david croyle

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.

Last week, David Croyle, pastor of Family-Life Church in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, was charged with sexually assaulting a fourteen-year-old boy,

Trib Live reports:

Kittanning Council does not have the authority to remove a councilman from office despite charges he engaged in sexual contact with a disabled 14-year-old, Council President Kim Chiesa said Friday.

On Thursday, Council Vice President David John Croyle, 60, was arrested and charged with felony counts of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault of a person with a mental disability, corruption of minors and related charges.

Croyle is the editor and publisher of the Kittanning Paper and senior pastor at the Family-Life Church on South Jefferson Street in Kittanning.

….

Representatives of the Family-Life Church, Applewold Council and East Franklin Township Fire Department either refused or did not return requests for comment.

….

Later that year, according to court documents, the victim told police he first met Croyle while filling out an employment application at the Kittanning Paper. The victim told officers the application indicated he was 14 years old. The victim told police he next heard from Croyle through the social media application Grindr. That contact led to an exchange of phone numbers, which eventually led to the victim and Croyle exchanging nude images, according to court documents.

During the summer of 2016, the victim told police, Croyle invited him to his residence on South Jefferson Street. When he arrived, the victim told police, Croyle led him to a bedroom for a sexual encounter. After the encounter, the victim told police, he was instructed to stay silent lest Croyle lose his job.

A second encounter occurred later that summer, the victim told police, and was again told to remain silent about it.

Croyle’s church bio page says:

David J. Croyle is the senior pastor of Family-Life Church, which owns and operates Family-Life TV in Western Pennsylvania. He hosts a regional daily television program “Share” and also an international weekly prayer call-in program called “Family-Life Sunday Night.” Viewers in 30 countries participate via the Internet at www.familylifetv.com. A graduate of Armour Baptist Seminary [unaccredited] located in the state of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in Bible, he is also a graduate of Carolina Christian University [unaccredited] with a Master of Science degree in Psychology and Counseling. He is certified by the National Christian Counselors Association as a Temperament Therapist and Licensed Pastoral Counselor. He has authored three books.

Croyle’s bio page also states:

He preached his first sermon at the age of 14. He has traveled thousands of miles in ministry and lives to be a blessing to those around him. Meet him this week in person at Family-Life Church or via the Internet!

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jeff Jakes Resigns Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

pastor jeff jakes

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.

Jeff Jakes, lead pastor at Orangewood Church and Christian School in Maitland, Florida, resigned today over sexual misconduct allegations. Orangewood Church is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) — a Fundamentalist sect.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

The probe was conducted by GRACE, an independent Christian organization that investigates claims of abuse and misconduct within religious institutions. GRACE said it spoke to 76 witnesses and surveyed more than 600 Orangewood community members.

It began after a former intern, Katherine Snyder, accused Jakes of abusing his position as youth pastor in 1998 by expressing romantic feelings, making comments about her body and detailing his own fantasies when she was 18. The behavior, she said in a Facebook post in February, continued while she attended college.

The report validated Snyder’s claims and criticized Jakes for saying he regretted “confusing” the former intern, a description GRACE said “marginalizes her dignity and robs her of the honor she deserves in bringing very painful events to light.”

Jakes has previously denied Snyder’s allegations.

One former associate pastor explained to GRACE that the Maitland church had handled the claims against Jakes “by considering it a ‘private sin’ and not a ‘public sin’.”

In its letter reacting to the findings, church leaders admitted “some of our earliest public statements only made matters worse” for victims, “including the use of a term like sexual misconduct without a full understanding for what that term means.”

Church leaders’ initial framing of Snyder’s allegations against Jakes — as nonsexual or, in one elder’s description, an “inappropriate emotional relationship” — angered Snyder, who said he touched her in ways that made her uncomfortable, such as kissing her cheek or caressing her hair.

While the church said it would accept Jakes’ resignation, it added that he could return to preaching in the future.

“It should be noted that the Session has found that Jeff is not disqualified from future pastoral ministry,” the church wrote in its letter. “After a time of counseling, study, healing and restoration, we believe Jeff can effectively serve in pastoral ministry.”

GRACE also reviewed claims of sexual abuse in the mid-’90s from at least three former students against then-Orangewood school coach Timothy Manes, concluding the school mishandled these allegations as well, including by not reporting them to authorities.

Among other recommendations, GRACE said Orangewood should provide funding for counseling received by victims of past sexual misconduct, harassment or abuse from members of the Orangewood community as well as ongoing training for staff.

No one will face criminal charges, and it is likely that Jakes, after spending time in sackcloth and ashes, will rise from the ashes of sexual improprieties and pastor again. Can’t keep a God-called preacher down, right?

February 2018 Orlando Sentinel article

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Bible Teacher Robert Browning Accused of Child Sex Crimes

robert browning

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 Browning, a Bible teacher at Cedar Creek Christian School in Jacksonville, Florida — a ministry of Cedar Creek Baptist Church — was charged today with lewd battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, and transmission of material harmful to a minor. Allegedly, Browning allowed a minor church girl to give him a blow job inside Cedar Creek Baptist’s building.

News 4 reports:

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.

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

The girl also said she performed consensual oral sex on Browning at the church, while he touched her inappropriately, police said.

According to the report, investigators found text messages between Browning and the girl about the incident.

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.”

 

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

black collar crimes

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.

james ronnie messer

Pastor James “Ronnie” Messer Charged With Rape

James “Ronnie” Messer, pastor of Crossway Worship Center in Morristown, Tennessee, was arrested and charged with aggravated statutory rape and sexual battery by an authority figure.

Knox News reports:

The girl’s sister reportedly told police the 17-year-old girl rode with the pastor to the Crossway Worship Center, after their plans to go swimming in the Hartford area were derailed by swift and muddy water.

The pastor reportedly led the girl through the Worship Center’s rear entrance to a room across from the men’s restroom where he raped her.

The pastor told police he thought the assault against the underage girl was consensual, according to the report.

The good pastor thought the assault was consensual. Since when is having sex with minor church girls who are under your authority EVER consensual?

mark aderholt

Southern Baptist Missionary Mark Aderholt Charged With Sexual Assault

Mark Aderholt, a former employee of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and International Mission Board missionary, has been charged with sexually assaulting a seventeen-year-old girl.

The Baptist Press reports:

Aderholt, 46, was arrested July 3 in South Carolina and booked into the Tarrant County, Texas, jail July 9 on charges of sexual assault of a child under 17, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. He was released today (July 10) on bond.

The IMB told Baptist Press today (July 16) it learned in 2007 of allegations Aderholt had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old in 1996-97 while he was a 25-year-old student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served with the board from 2000-08.

The IMB conducted an internal investigation in 2007, and the matter was set to go before the board of trustees, “which, at that time, was the only group with the authority to terminate a member of our missionary personnel,” IMB spokesperson Julie McGowan said in written comments. But Aderholt resigned on his own “before the Board could vote on the recommendation from the investigative team that included both men and women.

….

The IMB’s 2007 investigation, including two days of interviews with the alleged victim, led an IMB team to conclude at the time that Aderholt “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teen in 1996-1997, that the victim “suffered as a result” and that Aderholt “was not truthful” with the IMB “about the full extent of the relationship,” according to correspondence to Miller from IMB general counsel Derek Gaubatz published July 13 by the Star-Telegram.

The Southern Baptist International Mission Board investigated, concluded the allegations were credible, and did what all good Southern Baptist church leaders do: NOTHING! In fact, Aderholt continued to be a missionary and work in several capacities for the SBC until he was finally outed over his alleged crime.

Here’s a Star-Telegram feature article by Sarah Smith about Aderholt’s alleged sexual misconduct. Here’s another Sarah Smith article about Aderholt.

Imam Ahmed Raza Murders Boy With an Iron Rod

Imam Ahmed Raza  allegedly beat a young student of his to death with an iron rod. The Express Tribune reports:

A minor boy died after being subjected to physical torture by an imam at a mosque in Shalimar on Tuesday.

Police identified the victim as Abdul Ahad, who would go to the mosque where he was taught by the imam of the mosque, Ahmed Raza.

Reportedly, a few days ago Raza had beaten the child with an iron rod. When the child returned home, his condition deteriorated. His family admitted him to Kot Khwaja Saeed Hospital from where doctors shifted him to Lahore Mayo Hospital.

However, despite medical intervention, Ahad succumbed to his injuries. A police team transferred his body to the morgue for an autopsy. They also collected forensic evidence and recorded eye witness statements.

After the incident, the accused fled the area. The victim’s family lodged a complaint against the imam. Police apprehended Raza from Gujranwala and are investigating the matter further.

brian kenyon jr

Pastor Brian Kenyon Jr. Accused of Video Voyeurism

Brian Kenyon Jr, pastor of Deltona Church of Christ in Deltona, Florida, was arrested and charged with video voyeurism after a congregant reported Kenyon Jr. took a photo up her dress.

WFTV-9 reports:

The victim said she was meeting with Kenyon in his office, along with his children, and he asked her to put his youngest child into a car seat. The victim said that when she bent over, she felt skin against her leg, turned around and found Kenyon bent over directly behind her.

Deputies said the victim noticed Kenyon was holding his cellphone and it had a red light on.

Deputies say when the woman and members of the church confronted him about it he called it a misunderstanding and said he had “pornography problem.”

When they confronted the pastor about it again 11 days later, deputies say the pastor had some sort of spiritual awakening and confessed to the act saying a “dark moment” came over him.

They say he claimed to delete the photo. He was promptly dismissed from the church.

kathryn goff

Church Secretary Kathryn Goff Steals $20,000 From Beverly Hills Community Church

Kathryn Goff, the secretary for Beverly Hills Community Church in Beverly Hills, Florida was arrested and charged with stealing $20,000 from the church.  The Citrus County Chronicle reports:

Between June 2017 and April 2018, Goff, a paid employee and not a member of the church, allegedly addressed 38 checks to herself from the church’s bank account, totaling $19,426.59.

As secretary, she was allowed to write checks, but not sign them. An investigation by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office detectives determined that she would write checks with realistic amounts and record their payees in church logs as utility or service companies. Then she would take the checks to the bank and fill in her name as payee, writing in the memo line that it was for extra duties that the church never asked her to do.

kenneth marshall

Evangelical Youth Leader Kenneth Scott Marshall Indicted on Child Sex Crime Charges

Kenneth Scott Marshall, a volunteer youth leader at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Cobbs Creek, Virginia has been indicted on child sex crime charges.

ABC-13 reports:

The Mathews County Sheriff’s Office found out about the accusation in June. Deputies said it involved a 15-year-old boy and Kenneth Scott Marshall, 36. Marshall worked with young people at Cornerstone Fellowship Church. During the course of the investigation, deputies conducted several interviews and collected evidence that they found supported the allegations.

Prosecutors presented evidence to a grand jury on July 16 which led to two indictments against Marshall. The indictments were for Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Minor through the Use of Mental Incapacity or Physical Helplessness and Forcible Sodomy of a Minor through the Use of Mental Incapacity or Physical Helplessness.

The church released the following statement:

Scott Marshall was a volunteer working with the youth at the church. Upon learning of the allegations in June, which did not occur at the church, he was immediately removed from his volunteer position and from any contact with our youth pending the outcome of the sheriff’s investigation.

pastor fernando hernandez

Evangelical Pastor Fernando Hernandez Accused of Sexual Abuse

Fernando Hernandez,  pastor of It’s a Challenge Church in Brownwood, Texas stands accused of repeatedly molesting several young girls.  Brownwood News reports:

According to the documents filed, an investigation began November 23, 2016 when the Brownwood Police Department was advised of a possible sexual assault. During a subsequent interview, the child told investigators Hernandez put his hand down her pants and touched her genitals. The child stated “this happened every time she went to Hernandez’s home,” according to the report. Hernandez also allegedly told the child not to tell anyone or he would go to prison.

On July 18, 2018 another child made an outcry of abuse. In the affidavit, the child reportedly told investigators Hernandez assaulted her by touch and exposed himself, asking the child to touch his genitals. The child’s mother told investigators she had “always wondered why (Child Victim #2) acted strange towards Hernandez.”

The affidavits also report testimony with a member of Hernandez’s family who said they do not leave children alone with Fernando due to past allegations of sexual abuse.

Based on the aforementioned news report, it sounds like Hernandez has a history of putting his hands where they don’t belong. Yet, despite knowing this, people continue to attend his church and consider him a man of God. Nobody’s perfect, right?

According to a page titled Fernando’s Dream, Hernandez is a “doctor.” This page states:

In 1990 Fernando began working in the community of Plainview and Brownwood Texas. He worked with the schools in these communities in doing assembly presentations and also offering an after school program he developed called “It’s A Challenge!” He began to reach out to many students and changed many of their lives with these assemblies and programs. He showed the students that they had a greater purpose than getting involved in drugs, gangs and violence, that they too could dream a better life for themselves.

In 1991 and 1992, Dr. Hernandez was awarded “The Volunteer Award” for the outstanding service of his assemblies and “It’s A Challenge” programs that literally helped hundreds of students transition from middle school to high school and caused the high drop out rate to decrease in those areas. By 1994 Fernando was helping thousands of BISD students weekly in his volunteer service and “It’s A Challenge” program.

Fernando began to get national recognition for his positive student programs. In 1998, encouraged by his family, friends and other prominent people within the community, Fernando exposed his life’s story worldwide. In 2001, Fernando and his student life changing programs were featured in HOME LIFE a prominent family magazine publication.

Today, Both Fernando and Lorena went back to school to obtain their Masters and Doctorate in Christian Theology. Thet continue to personally help countless thousands of people by sharing their story of poverty to triumph. They help students by sharing with them about making right choices and giving them inspiration to hope and dream for their lives. They talk about choices and consequences. They challenge students in a powerful, thought provoking way. They deliver a powerful message to students to never give up, to reach their destiny, to stay in school, to go to college, to get a degree and to make their dreams come true! Their message resonates with the students to stay away from drugs, alcohol and violence, to respect others, to respect teachers, principals and the authorities. Their message is not just a slogan or token cliche but a powerful dream which is guaranteed to burn in the hearts of young people to truly “fight to do what’s right!”

I wonder if that “fight to do what’s right” includes fighting to keep your hands out of the pants of children?

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Kevin Berry Accused of Child Sex Crime

pastor kevin berry

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.

Kevin Berry, pastor of First Christian Church in Sedgwick, Kansas, stands accused of taking indecent liberties with a child — a felony.  The Witchita Eagle reports:

After allegations were made against Berry in September, the church sent an Oct. 8 letter to churchgoers informing them that Berry was being investigated and saying the “church leadership firmly supports our pastor (Kevin Berry).”

The letter said Berry voluntarily chose to no longer participate in children’s activities at the church while he was under investigation.

Summer and Curtis Peters, whose children attended the church’s youth group, said they don’t think Berry actually refrained from participating in children’s activities.

A video posted on the church’s YouTube account two months after the letter was sent shows Berry narrating a children’s Christmas pageant. Near the end of the video, a woman says that Berry and his wife helped write the children’s play and were “such a vital part of all of this.”

The Peterses, who attended Berry’s church until the fall, said their teenage children were regular attendees of the youth group but stopped going after they saw how church leadership handled allegations against Berry.

….

The complaint filed in Harvey County District Court says the alleged crime occurred around mid-September.

The Peters family’s concerns with Berry began in September, when a neighbor told them to check if their own teenage daughter was OK.

The couple then spoke with a youth leader, who is no longer with the church, and several children, asking if anything at church made them feel uncomfortable.

What the children said “raised flags” about inappropriate behavior on the part of the pastor, Curtis Peters said. Later that Sunday evening, as rumors buzzed through the town of fewer than 2,000, church members, elders, children and the pastor gathered to discuss the concerns.

“When the kids saw the pastor in the room, they truly felt uncomfortable,” Summer Peters said. “They were scared to say anything, scared to speak up.”

Elders in the church chastised the concerned parents, including the Peterses, and acted as if the children were lying, Summer Peters said.

It was implied that law enforcement was not needed, Curtis Peters said.

“From that point on, it just didn’t seem like the church really was concerned about the kids as much as they were about the pastor,” Curtis Peters said. “I don’t feel like they really did anything to distance the pastor from the situation.”

Shocker, right? The church believes the pastor and not the victim. This story is played out over, and over, and over again. The church has taken down its website and Facebook page. Time to run and hide lest their deeds be exposed for all to see.

Berry’s church bio states (from Google cached page:

Kevin Berry began ministering in Sedgwick on December 1st, 2015.  He came from Amoret Christian Church in Amoret, Missouri where he ministered for 6 years.   Kevin attended Ozark Christian College for his bachelor’s degree and Cincinnati Christian Seminary for his master’s degree.  He is married to ****** and they have one daughter, ******.

Kevin has a passion for truth and great relationships.

On July 15, 2018 the church released the following statement on Facebook:

The First Christian Church of Sedgwick has accepted Kevin Berry’s request to be placed on administrative leave to give him time to work through the charges he is facing. The church board has taken the position to continue their support of Kevin at this time.

The church’s Facebook page later stated that the good pastor went to personal counseling and received further training on leading and appropriate interaction with children and youth.

You can read the criminal complaint here.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo Victor Monteiro Accused of Sexual Abuse

malo victor monteiro

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.

Malo Victor Monteiro, former youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and former assistant pastor at Menifee Baptist Church in Menifee, California, stands accused of sexually abusing numerous children over a twenty year period. The Press-Enterprise reports:

A youth pastor in Wildomar was arrested Friday on suspicion of sexually assaulting children over a nearly 20-year span.

Malo Victor Monteiro, 45, of Colton, was booked into Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of intent to commit rape, mayhem or sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts with force on a child under 14, lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, distributing harmful matter and sexual penetration by force, according to the Riverside County jail log.

Today, a woman publicly accused Monteiro of sexually abusing her while she attended Faith Baptist, ABC-7 reports:

A woman came forward Monday to describe being sexually abused and how her former youth pastor Victor Monteiro groomed her.

“It was little by little, but then he would tell you, ‘You’re really cool. You’re special to me,'” April Avila said. “He would punch you on the shoulder, you know, be the cool youth pastor. Then it became caressing and touching your butt.”

Monteiro was arrested last week on numerous felony charges related to sexual assault on children that spans two decades. Avila said she came to know Montiero when she and her family attended Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar.

“The more involved I was, that’s when things began to escalate at church and away from church,” she said.

Avila is just one suspected victim, and there are others. Another suspected victim of abuse is suing Faith Baptist Church, accusing church administrators of knowing about the allegations and covering up for Monteiro.

In the lawsuit, it claims the church was aware of another youth pastor, who is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship, but the entity ignored it. In doing so, it allowed Monteiro to prey on his victims.

“He knew very well what I had gone through,” Kathy Durbins said.

Durbins is Monteiro’s sister-in-law. She said she was involved in an inappropriate relationship at Faith Baptist when she was a teenager. She said her brother-in-law used his knowledge of the church’s cover up to hide his own crimes.

“I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. There was no law enforcement called. So basically it was a big cover up,” she said.

….

Faith Baptist Church is pastored by Bruce Goddard. Menifee Baptist Church is pastored by Pat Cook. Both congregations are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. I previously wrote a post about Bruce Goddard titled, Pastor Bruce Goddard and His Bait and Switch Tactics.

Black Collar Crime: So Many Crimes, 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.

jeannette jives nealy

Pastor Jeannette Jives-Nealy Convicted of Money Laundering

Jeannette Jives-Nealy, pastor of Kingdom Dominion Worldwide Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee, was accused of stealing $162,000 in government funds meant for feeding poor and hungry children. Last Friday, Jives-Nealy, was convicted of money laundering.  According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Jives-Nealy has a checkered past which includes a four-year stint in prison for bilking the State of Florida out of $200,000.

joshua clemons

Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes

Earlier this year, Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado was accused of sexually assaulting a teen church girl. You can read my previous post on Clemons here.  Monday, Clemons pleaded guilty to “one count of sexual exploitation of a child — video/20+ items and one count of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust – victim age 15-18.”

Denver-7 reports:

Clemons, who worked as a pastor at the Parker church from 2006 through September 2015, had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who had long been in his program.

The relationship carried on as the girl went to college at Colorado State University before ending toward the end of last year, when the alleged victim said Clemons began to show up at her new church and she threatened to get a restraining order, according to police documents.

Clemons is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. He faces between three and nine years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines for class 4 and 5 felonies.

norman abernathy

Baptist Youth Pastor Norman Abernathy Accused of Sexually Assaulting Two Church Girls

Norman Clay Abernathy, former youth pastor at Langston Baptist Church in Conway, South Carolina, is charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of second degree assault and battery. According to CB-Sumpter, Abernathy sexually assaulted two church girls at his home. The girls were visiting Abernathy’s daughter when the alleged assaults occurred.

According to the church’s pastor, Hampton Drum:

He came highly recommended. We do extensive background checks on all those who come to us. He did voluntary work all the way up to June of this year when he resigned for personal reasons. We now know those personal reasons are the accusations that came up.

What is an “extensive” background check? And how would such a check reveal past criminal sexual behavior? As churches are learning, background checks are not a cure-all for clergy and staff sexual misconduct.

pastor harry thomas

Evangelical Pastor Harry Thomas Withdraws Guilty Plea, Fears He Will Die in Prison

Harry Thomas, pastor of Come Alive Church in Medford, New Jersey and the founder of Creation Concerts (Festivals), was accused last year of sexually assaulting  four minors over a sixteen-year period. You can read my previous post about Thomas here.  In February, Thomas pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting several children.

The National Post reports that Thomas, facing twenty-years in prison, was supposed to be sentenced on Friday. Instead, Thomas withdrew his guilty plea.

chauncey walker

Evangelical Youth Pastor Chauncey Walker Pleads Guilty to Having Sex With Church Girl

Earlier this year, Chauncey Walker, youth pastor at Word of Life Ministries in Wichita, Kansas, was accused of having sex with a teen church girl. You can read my previous post on Walker here.  Friday, Walker pleaded guilty to having sex with a fifteen-year-old church girl.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

“She was 15 when it started, and it progressed from there,” the former youth pastor says on the recording, which was recorded by a relative of the girl without Walker’s knowledge. Under Kansas law, only one party needs to consent to recording a conversation.

After he had sex with the girl, she said he made her promise that if anyone asked, she was to say that it was her idea, according to an affidavit filed by a sheriff’s detective.

“Things with Walker started right after her 15th birthday,” she told a detective working the case. He “took her out for ice cream and flirted with her.” About a week later, he came to her parents’ house to see her. She said Walker was a close friend of her parents. She said she and Walker ended up in her bedroom and kissed for a while.

They later had sex at Ground Zero, the church’s youth building, in Walker’s car in the country, at his house and in different hotels, according to the girl’s account in the affidavit.

Once the allegations surfaced, Walker conceded, he wasn’t honest at first about her age “because, I’ll just be honest — I didn’t want to go to jail,” he said in the recording.

If Sedgwick County District Judge David Kaufman agrees to the terms of the plea deal, Walker will be sentenced to 95 months, or nearly 8 years.

ronnie gorton

Evangelical Worship Leader Ronnie Gorton Indicted on Additional Sex Crime Charges

In March 2018, Evangelical worship leader Ronnie Gorton was indicted on numerous sex crime charges. Gorton was employed by Awakening Church in Atoka, Tennessee. On July 10, 2018, Gorton was indicted on forty-four more sex crime charges. The Leader reports:

According to court documents, the new charges allege Gorton abused another teenaged victim from November 2014 until February 2018, when the initial accusation was made.

The 44-count indictment includes: rape of a child, 19 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, 19 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and five counts of violating the Child Protection Act, which is continuous sexual abuse of a child.

todd shane tomko

Evangelical Pastor Todd Tomko Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes

Last year, Todd “Rhino” Tomko, a disgraced U.S. Marine colonel and pastor of Parkview Church in Quincy, Illinois, was charged with “three counts of indecent liberties with a child, three counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of cruelty.” You can read my previous post on Tomko here.  Tomko later pleaded guilty, and on July 10, 2018, he was sentenced to eighteen-months in prison for his crimes.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor James “Ronnie” Messer Accused of Rape

james ronnie messer

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.

James “Ronnie” Messer, pastor of Crossway Worship Center in Newport, Tennessee allegedly raped a church teenager. Messer, of course, says the girl consented to their sexual encounter in the church. WCYB-5 reports:

The report said the girl stated she and Messer entered the back door of the church and went to a room across from the men’s room where Messer allegedly began flirting with her and asked her to take her clothes off three or four times but she refused.

She said she felt scared and so she took her clothes off and laid on the floor where Messer reportedly had sex with her, according to the incident report.

Then, she told investigators he took her to the Hartford area to swim but the water was too muddy and swift so they left.

So, let’s see…in Pastor Messer’s delusional mind, taking sexual advantage of a church teenager is okay because she “wanted” it. Really?

Black Collar Crime: Highpoint Church Gives Chris Conlee a Standing Ovation

wtf

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.

Last week, I wrote a post titled, Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal. I detailed the fall out from Andy Savage’s admission that he sexually assaulted a church girl twenty years ago. Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee, received a standing ovation from congregants after he oh-so-humbly admitted the “sexual incident” twenty years before. Savage later resigned after public outrage over his tone-deafness and lack of true repentance and sorrow.

Yesterday, Savage’s fellow pastor Chris Conlee (who resigned last week) had an oh-so-touching parting moment with his church. Afterward, Conlee received a STANDING ovation, thus proving that the entire Highpoint congregation is deaf and blind, oblivious to how such crass behavior appears to outsiders. It’s evident that Highpoint and its leaders do not take sexual abuse seriously. Had they done so, they would have never hired Savage — the church new about the sexual abuse allegation when they hired him — and after hiring him anyway, the church should have fired Conlee for giving Savage cover. Instead, both men received ovations. Yes, both Savage and Conlee are gone, but there’s no sign from Highpoint that they understand their own culpability in this sordid story of sexual abuse and cover-up.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: Savage and Conlee will resurface somewhere, ready to shear more sheep on their road to personal fame and glory.

Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal

andy savageThe 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.

Earlier this year, Andy Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee admitted to the church that he had sexually assaulted a teen girl years ago at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Savage called the assault a “sexual incident.” Afterward, the Highpoint congregation gave Savage an ovation for being so open and honest — feel free to puke. And with that, Savage continued to work for Highpoint Church. Sin confessed, onward, upward Buzz Savage. Highpoint, by the way, knew of the sexual assault before hiring Savage. What’s a little sexual assault among friends, right?

Several weeks later, after outrage over Savage’s tone-deafness and lack of true repentance and sorrow, Savage resigned. Jules Woodson, the woman Savage sexually assaulted years ago, reported the assault to pastor Larry Cotton, then pastor of Woodlands Parkway Baptist. Cotton, as Evangelicals are wont to do, did nothing. In February, Cotton, now pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, resigned, admitting that he should have reported Savage’s misconduct to law enforcement authorities. Savage will not be prosecuted for his alleged crimes due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Today, another domino fell in the Andy Savage scandal. Chris Conlee, the lead pastor and founder of Highpoint has resigned, saying that it was time for him to pass the baton to someone else.You can read Highpoint’s board’s statement: here. Again, prepare to puke. No mention is made of the Savage scandal.  Instead, the church plans to give Conlee a grand send-off, thanking him for all he has done for Highpoint.

The Andy Savage scandal is sickening from start to finish. No one, I repeat NO ONE, acted on behalf of the victim. Instead, what we see is cover-your-ass moves and attempts to move on without honestly and fully dealing with Savage’s criminal behavior. And here’s the thing: all of these “men of God” will land somewhere on their feet, ready and willing to WOW new churches. And the beat goes on, one victim at a time.