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Category: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor Michael Canter Accused of Sexually Abusing Church Teenager

pastor michael canter

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.

Michael Canter, pastor of Valley View Baptist Church in Abingdon, Virginia, stands accused of sexually abusing a church teenager at an overnight sleepover. Valley View is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Department reports:

After receiving a report of an alleged sexual assault and after an investigation thereof, Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Michael Canter, age 38 of Abingdon, Virginia, without incident on September 8, 2022 on multiple sexual assault charges against a juvenile female. At the time of his arrest, Michael Canter, a lifelong resident of Washington County, Virginia, was serving as the pastor at Valley View Baptist Church in Abingdon, Virginia. Canter was charged with Taking Indecent Liberties with a Child, two counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery and Attempted Object Sexual Penetration. Canter is currently being held at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail without bond.

The Roys Report adds:

Michael Steven Canter, 38, faces charges of taking indecent liberties with a child; two charges of aggravated sexual battery; and one charge of attempted object sexual penetration, the sheriff’s office indicated in a press release.

When he was arrested, Canter was pastor of Valley View Baptist Church in Abingdon, in far west Virginia, the sheriff’s office stated. He has pastored the church since 2015, according to the church’s Facebook page.

….

A 17-year-old told sheriff’s deputies last month that Canter had groped her multiple times a few days earlier, during an overnight church event he organized, the criminal complaint stated. The reported assault traumatized the girl, who has sought counseling and medication to cope, the complaint added.

The complaint also states a second person corroborated the girl’s account.

A detective told local TV station WJHL that there could be other victims, too. They encouraged anyone with information to come forward.

Canter has been held without bond in the Abingdon Regional Jail since late September 8, according to the sheriff’s office and VINELink inmate records.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Youth Pastor Trent Ivey Arrested on Sexual Battery Charges

trent ivey

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.

Trent Ivey, a youth pastor at Vestal Baptist Church in South Knox, Tennessee, was arrested on sexual battery charges in 2021. Vestal Baptist is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Ivey is currently awaiting trial.

WVLT-8 reports:

At Vestal Baptist church [sic] in South Knox, it’s a small congregation of about 50 people. Over a year ago, there were more than 100 people there before many left after an incident that Pastor Arnold Greene wished he could forget.

Youth Pastor Trent Ivey was arrested back in August of 2021 and charged with sexual battery by an authority figure, and also faced accusations of distributing inappropriate material to minors at his time at Vestal Baptist, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was inappropriate with two young females from what I understand,” said Greene who claimed it was a 16 and 18-year-old in his congregation.

According to the Knox County Sheriffs Office, Ivey made bail at $40,000 the same day he was arrested and will have a court date in 2024.

The youth pastor of two years was [sic] listed in the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry.

According to Greene, he was “shocked” to learn of the allegations against Ivey, and said he had no knowledge of it. In fact, six months prior, Greene fired Ivey claiming it was due to “insubordination” and had nothing to do with the accusations of misconduct since the pastor didn’t know about it at that point.

Greene said he learned of the misconduct months later when one of the victims told somebody who then told him. A pastor of nine years who couldn’t help but feel a little guilt after serious accusations were being brought forth on one of his former employees.

“In some ways I do but you trust people until you can’t,” said Greene.

Greene said Ivey grew up in the church alongside multiple generations of his family, so he had no reason not to trust him. After his exit and subsequent arrest, Greene felt betrayed and hasn’t hired a new youth pastor more than a year later.

“It’s hard to move on it’s hard to get someone you trust,” said Greene.

….

The records of what exactly happened involving the charges are sealed because they involve minors, and therefore have not been made available, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Pastor Greene is a Southern Baptist. Surely he knows that his chosen denomination has a huge sexual abuse problem; a scandal of epic proportions. Thus, I am somewhat perplexed by his naivety. As he has now learned, ANYONE in his church can be a sexual predator. Naively trusting people because they are saved, or regularly attend church, or you have known them for years is an abrogation of your responsibility to provide a safe environment for church children. I wonder if Vestal Baptist requires annual state and federal background checks for anyone who works with children or is in a position of authority? What procedures are in place to protect children from predators? Of course, it is uncertain whether the alleged crimes took place at the church or involved church children. We shall await further disclosures.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Christ of Christ Pastor Roberson Douge Accused of Sex Crimes with Teen Girls

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.

Roberson Douge pastor of Apostolic Church of Christ in Palm Bay, Florida, has been charged with 10 counts of lewd and lascivious battery and 10 counts of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.

Florida Today reports:

Roberson Douge, 42, the pastor of the Apostolic Church of Christ, 1402 Norman St. NE in Palm Bay, was charged with 10 counts of lewd and lascivious battery and 10 counts of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors following an investigation into suspected, inappropriate behavior, police reports show.

Detectives said there may be other potential victims, and have asked anyone with information on the case to come forward.

“We really don’t know if there are other victims. We are not sure. That’s why we put the plea out there,” said Lt. Mike Rogers, spokesperson for the Palm Bay Police Department.

Douge, arrested at his home in Palm Bay Wednesday by Palm Bay police, is also the owner and operator of Tiger Claw Kung Fu, a martial arts training facility in the city.

The investigation began Monday after someone came forward to tell Palm Bay detectives that two girls were in illicit relationships with the preacher. 

One of the teens had reached out to a friend to tell her she was struggling with personal issues, when both realized they were involved with inappropriate sexual relations with Douge.

The girls told police they attended the church. One girl said the pastor would drive her home, touch her, and later engage in sex in the vehicle, according to an affidavit. 

The other girl told investigators the pastor would drive her to empty lots for sexual contact outside of the church. The pastorl also engaged in sexual encounters with the teens in the church bathroom, the church van and his office, according to police. 

Detectives arranged to record a phone call between one of the girls and the pastor.

The pastor, who spoke in Creole and English during the recorded call, begged the girl not to reveal their relationship, fearing the disclosure would ruin his family and devastate his children, police reports show. Douge also apologized. 

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Updated: Black Collar Crime: Youth Pastor Jesse Vargas Sentenced to Prison for Sexually Abusing Teen Girl

pastor jesse vargas

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.

Jesse Vargas, a youth pastor who worked at The Incredible Journey to Christianity retreat in Michigan, was accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl.

In March 2021, the St. Louis Dispatch reported:

A New York youth pastor charged with the sexual assault of a teenage girl in Hazelwood met the teen at a Christian retreat in Michigan before he was invited to stay with the girl’s family, Hazelwood police said Tuesday.

Jesse Vargas, 37, of Nassau County, New York, was a youth pastor who worked at The Incredible Journey to Christianity retreat in Michigan where he met the teen, Hazelwood police Capt. Mark McKeon said. Hazelwood police began investigating reports in December that Vargas repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl in January 2013 while he was staying with her family.

Vargas was charged in St. Louis County in February with five counts of statutory sodomy. He was arrested in New York on Friday where he is also facing charges that include sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He’s accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl at his home there. Police would not say if it was the same teen who reported the assault in Hazelwood.

In November 2021, Fox-2 reported:

Explicit text messages from an old iPhone show the lengths to which a youth pastor allegedly groomed a juvenile for years before he allegedly sexually assaulted her, Hazelwood Police said. That pastor now faces several state and federal charges and authorities believe there could be more victims.

“No matter how careful the parents are – the kids need to be educated on the types of techniques used by the predators,” Hazelwood Police DARE Officer Ed Novak said.

The alleged victim, who is now an adult, said she met youth pastor Jesse Vargas at a church retreat in Michigan. Vargas had lived in Long Island, New York.

She was 11 at the time. He was 25.

“He was actually the one at the registration table, the very first day that I went in. So I was 11, and I was in this new place full of strangers,” she said. “He was the first person to give me my nametag and make me feel comfortable. He was one of the spiritual leaders of the entire camp.”

FOX 2 is not naming the woman to protect her identity.

The woman, who is now 25, grew up in Hazelwood. She said she visited the camp twice a year. It was when she turned 13 that she said Vargas initiated more direct contact.

“After camp in 2011, he asked for my phone number and asked to take a photo of me. And he took that, and immediately started a friendly conversation,” she said.

She said the friendly conversations over texts were innocuous at first. Vargas, she said, insisted that he help guide her on her spiritual journey.

He began to text her, send her seemingly innocent tokens of affection, including a mix CD, a journal, and other items. Vargas’ wife had even sewn a dress for her.

But the subtle messages began to build into something dangerous over time, she said.

“He would talk to me about his work concerns, his marital concerns, his personal history, and also go on and on how well he wanted to treat me, and how he wanted to come there and buy me my favorite snacks,” she said. “And he wanted to transfer to St. Louis so he could take me out to lunch once I went to high school.”

The two became closer and while the alleged victim had concerns, she said she would ultimately trust Vargas, an authority figure.

Vargas, she said, even earned the trust of her family, even visiting and staying with them on more than one occasion.

Her first sexual contact with him happened when she was 15, she said.

“Inappropriate touching. Sexual stimulation. Oral sex, in my parents’ basement. He would come and stay with my family, he had earned their trust as well. But in the middle of the night, in my parent’s house, is where this would occur,” she said.

The methodically placed gifts, affection, and abuse continued. The alleged victim’s said her family was unaware of what was happening and that her parents allowed her to visit Vargas and his wife in New York.

The woman said she eventually broke off contact and lived with the secrets for years. It wasn’t until 2020—seven years after the initial relationship—that she came forward. She said a family member of Vargas—someone who she had never met—messaged her, saying she learned of what had been happened. She said the family member apologized to her for what Vargas had done.

That was when the woman, now 25, said she wanted to break her silence.

“I contacted Hazelwood Police,” she said.

She was aware that her case would be hard to prove, given that the alleged incidents took place seven years after the fact.

But two pieces of evidence helped bring charges against Vargas: an old iMac and an iPhone 5.

She still had possession of the old iPhone, which had the social app Kik on it. Vargas had instructed her to use the encrypted messaging system to communicate during the relationship.

“Even though it was encrypted and isn’t hosted online, it was still sitting there on my phone. The pages of conversation that we had had were right there waiting for the phone to turn on,” she said.

Hazelwood Police and the FBI were able to recover the texts. There were dozens of pages of evidence, revealing Vargas’ years-long efforts to groom his victim, police said.

“There were able to pull my phone backups off of that. Even though pretty early on in the grooming, he had instructed me to stop backing up my phone to that computer…we still had everything up to that point,” the woman said.

Vargas pleaded guilty in March 2022. Yesterday, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his crimes.

The United States Department of Justice reports:

U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White on Thursday sentenced a former youth pastor from New York to 13 years and four months in prison for the sexual abuse of a Missouri 15-year-old in 2013.

Judge White also ordered Jesse E. Vargas, 38, to pay $146,594 in restitution to his victim.

Vargas originally met the then 11-year-old girl at a religious camp in Michigan where he worked.

“Over the course of the next four years Jesse played with my family and I like frogs in a pot,” the victim said in court during Thursday’s hearing. “Slowly increasing the temperature of his manipulation until we each were unaware of the water we had been submerged in, let alone its suddenly scalding temperature. By age thirteen I abandoned most of my spiritual leaders and friendships at his suggestion. By fourteen he even guided me to push away my two closest friends,” she said.

In January of 2013, Vargas traveled from New York to the St. Louis area home of the teen. He stayed in her family’s house and preached a sermon at her church. During the visit, he also sexually abused her.

“I was assured by him throughout my formative young teenage years that ‘The World’ wouldn’t understand the illicit affair of ours he was suggesting, but God had provided us a path that we should follow together in secret. Tell no one. Trust no one else,” the victim said.

He returned in March of 2013 and abused her again. In June of that year, he arranged for her to travel to New York, where he abused her again. He exchanged images and videos containing nude images with the teen via social media apps and text messages.

The victim also spoke about the effects of Vargas’ abuse, including PTSD.  “As a lifelong honors student with high career hopes entering high school, I instead dropped out because I was simply too exhausted to care about anything.”

Vargas, of Nassau County, pleaded guilty March 22 to two felony counts: travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact and coercion and enticement of a minor.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Hazelwood Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson prosecuted the case.

“The way Jesse Vargas used the guise of spiritual instruction is repugnant. He manipulated not only his victim, but the adults who tried to protect her,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Dargis of the FBI St. Louis Division. “I commend the victim’s bravery for coming forward, in spite of having to relive her trauma, to prevent others from becoming a victim.”  

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Youth Director Arnold DiBlasi Charged with Possessing and Distributing Child Porn

Arnold DiBlasi

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.

Arnold DiBlasi, a youth director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and a grandfather, stands accused of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The Trentonian reports:

Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw and Evesham Township Police Chief Walt Miller have announced that a 71-year-old Marlton man has been charged with possessing and distributing child sexual abuse material.

Arnold DiBlasi, of the first block of Prince Charles Court, was charged with four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (three First Degree and one Second Degree).

DiBlasi, who is the former youth group director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill, was taken into custody on July 26 at his residence following the execution of a search warrant. Electronic devices seized during the search will be examined by detectives from the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit. A preliminary review of DiBlasi’s cell phone revealed the presence of child sexual abuse material.

He was lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly and released following a detention hearing in Superior Court. The case will now be referred to a grand jury for possible indictment.

The investigation began in May after the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit received information regarding DiBlasi’s online activities from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation revealed that DiBlasi, utilizing an online chat room, distributed more than 11,000 files of child sexual abuse material to 30 people.

CBS adds:

DiBlasi worked with kids as youth director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill.

In a statement, Pastor Jason Rocks says officials assured him “no parish youth were involved in the materials, none of the activities took place on parish property, nor were any parish electronics used.”

Father Rocks also went on to say DiBlasi completed all required training and criminal background checks before being hired.

Sorry, Father Rocks. Your assurances carry very little, if any, weight on this site. We’ve seen too much.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Son of Evangelical Pastor Jerome Milton Arrested, Charged with Credit Card Abuse

jerome anthony milton

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 reported on the conviction and sentencing of Jerome Milton, pastor of Open Door Bible Church in Tyler, Texas. Milton was astoundingly sentenced to six months in jail for his crimes. His co-conspirator, Jerome Anthony Milton, has now been arrested and charged with credit card/debit card abuse.

CBS-19 reports:

The son of Rev. Jerome Milton who pleaded guilty last week to stealing from an elderly couple, his former church and a local nonprofit has been arrested in connection with the elderly theft case. 

Jerome Anthony Milton, 27, of Tyler, was charged Monday on two counts of credit or debit card abuse against the elderly. He was released from the Smith County Jail the same day. His bonds totaled $125,000, jail records show. 

The younger Milton was indicted on a credit or debit card abuse against the elderly charge on March 31; however, records currently show that indictment is no longer on file. 

Through a plea deal on Aug. 12, Rev. Milton, who leads Open Door Bible Church in Tyler, admitted to using bank transfers and credit cards to steal from two elderly congregation members as well as stealing from the previous church he led and the East Texas Communities Foundation. 


Rev. Milton will serve 180 days in the Smith County Jail and 10 years’ probation through his guilty plea. Once released from the county jail, he will have a hearing in February to address restitution payments, prosecutors said.

According to the March 31 indictment, over a seven-month period, the younger Milton fraudulently benefited from using the same elderly couple’s debit cards.

Police documents obtained in October 2021 state Rev. Milton unlawfully took money from congregation members, Wayford and Marilyn Brown, using multiple check withdrawals and ATM transactions while he serving as their power of attorney and finances. 

The document states Rev. Milton used the funds he took for car payments and hotel rooms.

In the affidavit regarding Rev. Milton’s arrest, the document stated that Jerome Anthony Milton was seen making ATM withdrawals from the elderly man’s bank account.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Reynaldo Cruz Crespin Sentenced to Prison for Repeatedly Sexually Assaulting His Daughter

reynaldo crispen

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.

Reynaldo Crispen, pastor of New Horizon Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a school teacher, pleaded guilty to lewdness with a child charges and was sentenced to six to fifteen years in prison.

Earlier this year, Channel 3 reported:

A man who was a Las Vegas schoolteacher and pastor is wanted on suspicion of multiple sex crimes, according to authorities.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Reynaldo Crespin, 59, on 10 counts involving sex assault against a child, lewdness with a child and open and gross lewdness, court records indicate.

Channel 3 also reported:

Las Vegas Metro Police want you to be on the lookout for this man: 59-year-old Reynaldo Crespin.

There’s a warrant for his arrest for nine felony charges, including lewdness with a child and sexual assault against a child.

….

Court documents say police went in there [the church] last Wednesday with a search warrant.

Sunday services have been canceled. And officials posted this letter that reads: “Crespin committed acts of domestic violence, stalking, or aggravated stalking against his wife and minors. Also, Crespin’s daughter allegedly disclosed her father had been inappropriately touching her over the past several years.”

When I went to the church this afternoon, Crespin wasn’t there, but this lady who wouldn’t identify herself was.

“The family would like respect. If you have any respect, we ask that you leave,” said the unidentified woman.

“We didn’t know this was the family’s home. Is this not the church?” asked News 3 Reporter Kay Dimanche.

“It does not matter,” said the unidentified woman before slamming the church door shut.

In addition to being a preacher, police say Crespin was a CCSD teacher.

new horizon christian church las vegas
Found on Crispen’s church’s Facebook page. Evidently, Crispen had a clean Bible.

Crespin was later located and arrested. In May 2022, Crispen pleaded guilty to attempted lewdness with a child. Last Monday, he was sentenced to six to fifteen years in prison. Astoundingly, Crispen’s lawyer asked for probation.

The Midland Daily News reports:

A former Las Vegas elementary school teacher and church pastor has been sentenced to six to 15 years in prison and lifetime supervision as a sex offender after pleading guilty to a child sex crime.

Reynaldo Cruz Crespin, 59, apologized Monday before a Clark County District Court judge who rejected his lawyer’s request for probation.

If there was a case that warranted punishment, I believe this is that case,” Judge Kathleen Delaney said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

….

Crespin was arrested in February in Albuquerque, New Mexico, more than a week after he was named in a warrant in Las Vegas on multiple charges including sexual assault involving children.

All but one lesser charge were dismissed when Crespin avoided trial and pleaded guilty in May to attempted lewdness with a child under 14.

KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported that Crespin taught second grade from 2016 until this year and was a pastor at New Horizon Christian Church in northeast Las Vegas. The television station said none of the charges related to his students.

The Review-Journal reported that Crespin and his wife founded the church in 2002. His wife sued in February to take custody of their children.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Updated: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Church Elder Robert Harris Convicted of Murdering His Wife

robert harris

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 2018, Robert Harris, an elder at Repairers Kansas City (also known as Repairers of the Breach Christian Center) in Kansas City, Missouri, was charged with murdering his wife, Tanisha Harris. The church has no Internet presence.

The Kansas City Star reported at the time (link no longer active):

An Overland Park man was charged Wednesday with the killing of his wife, whose body was found in Cass County.

Johnson County prosecutors charged Robert Lee Harris Jr. with premeditated first-degree murder in the death of Tanisha Harris.

Overland Park police said Tuesday that officers were called to the couple’s apartment in the 8000 block of Perry Street around 4 p.m. Monday for a domestic disturbance.

Robert Harris was alone in the apartment, police said.

But later Monday night, he called police back to the apartment and and told them his wife was missing. Officers became suspicious of what he told them, and he then allegedly admitted he had a role in her disappearance, according to police.

The body of Tanisha Harris, 38, was found Tuesday morning in Cass County, and her 30-year-old husband was booked into the Johnson County Detention Center.

Court documents do not say how Tanisha Harris died.

….

Today, Harris was convicted of first-degree murder.

The Kansas City Star reports:

A former elder in a Kansas City, Missouri, church was convicted Friday of killing his wife four years ago. Robert Lee Harris was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Tanisha Harris at the couple’s home in Overland Park, Kansas. The couple was active in Repairers Kansas City, a nondenominational church. where Tanisha Harris was an associate pastor.

Police went to the couple’s apartment in Overland Park on Jan. 8, 2018, to investigate a report of a domestic disturbance. Officers found Robert Harris alone in the apartment and left. They returned when he reported his wife missing. Her body was found later near Raymore, Missouri.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Sean Higgins Indicted on Numerous Sex Crime Charges

sean higgins

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.

Sean Higgins, a youth pastor and music director at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport, New Jersey, and a teacher at Harbor Baptist Academy (located in the church), stands accused of posing as a teen girl and persuading 13 boys on social media to send him nude pictures and videos of them masturbating. Harbor Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation, pastored by Pat Higgins. The church was started by Higgins’ father. Sean Higgins may be related to Pastor Higgins, but I could not verify this information.

The Burlington Daily Voice reports:

A Burlington County teacher and youth pastor has been indicted for coaxing underage boys on social media to send him nude pictures and videos, then using that material to blackmail his victims into performing sexual acts on themselves for his enjoyment, authorities said. 

A grand jury indicted Sean Higgins, 31, of Palmyra on 75 total counts that included charges of aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, cyber harassment, child endangerment, and obscenity to a minor, they said.

Thirteen of the counts were first-degree charges, according to Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw.

Higgins is accused of committing these crimes in 2020 while serving as the youth pastor and music leader at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport, and serving as a teacher at the Harbor Baptist Academy, a private K-12 school that is housed in the same facility.

The indictment includes 13 victims, ranging in age from 12 to17, who resided in Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee, Bradshaw said.

….

The investigation revealed that Higgins would adopt the persona of a teenage girl and utilize Snapchat and Instagram to begin a conversation with a juvenile male, introducing himself as Julie Miller. After establishing a rapport, he would suggest that they trade photos. Higgins would then send pictures of an unidentified female teenager, the prosecutor said.

In return, Higgins would often receive nude photos that the victims took of themselves. Immediately upon receiving those images, he would take a screenshot of the victim’s friends list that was visible on the forward-facing social media platform. Higgins would send that screenshot back to the victim and threaten to send the nude photos he had just received to the list of the victim’s friends unless the victim did exactly what Higgins demanded, Bradshaw said.

In most of the cases that were investigated, Higgins then demanded that his victims go into the bathroom at their residence and place the phone on the floor, or at an angle looking up, and would instruct the victims to masturbate or perform sexual acts on themselves. Higgins would record what was transpiring.

According to the videos made by Higgins that were obtained during the investigation, victims would often beg Higgins to be allowed to stop engaging in sexual conduct, but Higgins would demand that they complete his instructions, or face the consequences of having the recordings he was making of the incident be sent to their list of friends.

….

The investigation began after a youth in Berks County, Pa., contacted Snapchat and reported that he sent nude photos of himself to someone he believed to be an unknown female. The unknown female, who in actuality was Higgins, had threatened to expose his nude photographs after they exchanged pictures. An underage male in Alabama also reported his communications with Higgins to law enforcement authorities.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser