Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Former Evangelical Pastor Michael Trosclair and Wife Party with Infant Daughter at Indiana Bar

michael trosclair

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.

Former Pastor Michael Trosclair and his wife Shari Treba were arrested recently ans charged with “neglect of a dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent” and public intoxication.

The Birmingham Reporter reports:

A mom and dad from Alabama were arrested after allegedly taking their infant daughter to party at an Indiana bar — as witnesses said the mother drank and smoked while breastfeeding her child.

Michael Trosclair, 45 and Shari Treba, 42, were taken into custody and charged with neglect of a dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent. They were also hit with a public intoxication charge.

“Partying was more important than their child,” a detective wrote in an affidavit. The suspects reportedly were in town for a work conference. Trosclair’s LinkedIn profile shows he’s a former senior pastor, AL.com noted.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers were dispatched to the Wild Beaver Saloon early Friday morning following reports of a woman asking customers for beer, according to the probable cause affidavit obtained by AL.com.

Police confronted Treba while she was standing near a stroller. When police asked her who the baby belonged to, she said the baby girl was hers. Police said that Treba’s “breath and person” smelled like alcohol. She allegedly had to be asked several times who she was and where she was from.

A witness at the bar told the officer that Treba had been offering sex to individuals who would go inside the establishment and get her a beer. The witness also told police that he had watched Treba drink while simultaneously breastfeeding. Other witnesses told police that Treba had previously chained the stroller – with the baby still in it – to a post outside the bar and went inside to buy a drink.

Treba allegedly informed police that she was with her husband and friends from his job.

Her breath alcohol content at the time of her arrest was .193.

Trosclair allegedly became angry after Treba was confronted by police. “Mr. Trosclair became belligerent and started demanding to talk to a lawyer and telling us we weren’t going to do anything,” according to the affidavit. “It was at this time, due to Mr. Trosclair’s behavior, I put him in cuffs for fear he may fight us with the baby right there.”

The baby would be checked out by medics, officers told Treba. They also called Child Protective Services and a child abuse investigator to the location at the time of the incident.

….

One report states that Trosclair was at one time the pastor of Turning Point Church in Theodore, Alabama. According to Charisma News:

Trosclair pastored Turning Point Church, a congregation in Theodore, Alabama, for four years. He now works for insurance company Primerica.

According to The Christian Post:

Three years after parting ways with the United Pentecostal Church International, Michael Trosclair, a former senior pastor at Turning Point Church in Theodore, Alabama, was arrested at a bar along with his wife and their infant daughter in tow.

….

An official with the UPCI headquarters in Weldon Spring, Missouri, confirmed with The Christian Post Thursday that Trosclair was once a licensed minister with the organization but has not been affiliated with them for about three years.

She declined say for how long he was an active minister.

A February 28, 2018 Christian Post news report states that Michael Trosclair and wife Shari Treba the were found not guilty:

A former United Pentecostal Church pastor and his wife, who were arrested at a bar in Indiana last summer for allegedly being drunk while neglecting their infant daughter, have been found not guilty of the charges.

“After 263 days of silence and public shame, we are grateful for the verdict of ‘not guilty.’ This verdict contributes to our continued healing from the loss and emotional pain caused by this incident. We now look forward to expressing the true story of who we are and what happened,” Michael Trosclair, a former senior pastor at Turning Point Church in Theodore, Alabama, and his wife, Shari Tremba, said in a joint statement released by their lawyer Marc Lopez of Indianapolis.

….

Lopez said the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office filed felony charges on June 19, 2017, against the couple, but after deliberating for less than 20 minutes last week an Indianapolis jury found them “not guilty” of all crimes charged.

“I am so happy at the verdict in this case. And I want to thank Michael Trosclair for putting his faith into me and my law firm in representing him. When Michael hired me, he told me he was going to fight this the entire way. And we did,” Lopez said.

Witness testimony showed that while Trosclair and Tremba were in Indianapolis for a financial industry convention they were accompanied by two caretakers who were charged with the care of their 7-month-old as they networked with other convention attendees.

On the night of their arrest, the group had dinner, participated in convention activities, and took a walking tour of Indianapolis, the evidence showed. While walking past a downtown bar, Trosclair went inside to greet a business partner while his 7-month-old daughter stayed outside the bar with Tremba and the two other adult caretakers.

While Tremba waited outside with the 7-month-old child, a patron of the bar called 911 stating he had seen her being neglectful of the child.

Witness testimony at the trial, however, contradicted the allegations of the 911 caller, noting that the only thing Tremba did was consume one 10-ounce beer. The person who gave her the beer testified that he did so about 10 minutes before the police arrived. He also said Tremba was not intoxicated.

When police officers arrived on the scene and informed Tremba to get her husband and that her daughter would be taken to the hospital to be evaluated she became upset. When her husband arrived and learned what was happening he became upset as well and they were both arrested.

….

Black Collar Crime: Hebrew Israelite Steven Carty Arrested and Charged With Sexual Assault of a Child

steven carty

Steven Carty, a Hebrew Israelite, was arrested today and charged with the aggravated sexual assault of a child.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Authorities have accused a 47-year-old man of sexually assaulting his teenaged wife, who is a member of a group that believes they are direct descendants of biblical Israelites, according to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

The unidentified 14-year-old girl’s mother, another member of the group, also was arrested on charges of endangering a child.

According to the sheriff’s office, the 14-year-old female told a doctor that she was married and sexually active. She said she had been “married” since she was 13. Police were notified of the situation on June 5 by Child Protective Services.

Sheriff Troy Nehls said during a Thursday press conference that he found the girl’s ordeal to be a “very disturbing, disturbing case.”

The sheriff’s office identified Steven Carty, 47, as the “husband” and charged him with aggravated sexual assault of a child. The girl’s mother, Cherry Jamila Payton, 39, was charged with endangering a child, a state felony.

When CPS officials interviewed both the teen and her mother, they described themselves as Hebrew Israelites, African-Americans who believe they are descendants of ancient Israelites.

The mother apparently supported her daughter’s marriage to Carty because of their beliefs, according to Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office spokeswomen Caitilin Espinosa.

Espinosa said the young girl did not have a traditional marriage ceremony, but the teen believed she was married because of her cultural beliefs.

“She didn’t get married in front of pastor or priest,” Espinosa said. “It was a cultural thing that she believes she was married.”

There are thousands of people across the country and other parts of the world including the Caribbean, Africa and United Kingdom who consider themselves Hebrew Israelites, according to The Associated Press.

Members usually dress in colorful clothing, refrain from birth control and also believe in polygamy. There are several meeting places for Hebrew Israelites across Texas including in El Paso, Houston and Dallas.

Their spiritual leader, Ben Ammi Ben Israel, died in Israel in 2014. He believed that some African-Americans were descendants of the biblical tribe of Judah and migrated to West Africa after the Jewish Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 in Jerusalem.

In the 1960s, the leader said he had a vision from the angel Gabriel to return to West Africa. He led a group of people back to Liberia, which became the starting point of the worldwide belief system.

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Todd Coontz Accused of Tax Fraud

todd coontz

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.

Fake Dr. Todd Coontz, pastor of Dominion Family Worship Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (church’s website is a parked domain) and CEO of Rockwealth Ministries stands accused of “failing to pay taxes and filing false tax returns, as well as hiding assets that were paid for by donations.”

WSOC-9 reports:

A televangelist and so-called “prosperity preacher” with ties to Charlotte has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Pastor Todd Coontz is accused of failing to pay taxes and filing false tax returns, as well as hiding assets that were paid for by donations. The U.S. attorney said, “This is a classic example of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”

….

As a cable TV evangelist, Coontz promised financial miracles for people who sent money to his ministry.

“You need to plant the $273 recovery seed. I’m only going to give you two to three minutes to respond,” Coontz once told his viewers.

Coontz posted videos on Twitter as recently as Wednesday, promising financial blessings to the faithful.

“Suddenly miracles are happening. I want to work with your faith for quick things, swift things,” Coontz said in the video.

In February 2013, a Channel 9 investigation revealed some of Coontz’s own “blessings,” which included a $1.38 million condo at a building on the corner of Providence and Sharon Amity roads. In the garage of that building was his Ferrari and his Maserati.

A federal criminal indictment on Thursday pointed to those exact same assests in Channel 9’s investigation.

The condo was purchased by Coontz’s Rockwealth Ministries as “parsonage” for him, according to the indictment. The court documents said the cars were also titled in the name of the ministry.

The U.S. Secret Service started looking into Coontz and Rockwealth Ministries as a result of the Channel 9 investigation.

The indictment revealed delinquent tax returns from as far back as 2000. From 2010-2013, Coontz owed more than $326,000 in taxes.

Investigators said he also hid his income from the Internal Revenue Service by cashing checks he received from churches and ministries for travel and speaking engagements and then claiming that same travel as business expenses.

The indictment also revealed he used business funds to pay for personal expenses, such as more than $227,000 for clothes, $140,000 at restaurants and more than 400 charges at movie theaters.

Coontz’s defense attorney, Mark Foster, said the indictment makes allegations but isn’t proof.

“He’s otherwise is a good man,” Foster said. “He’s tried to do the right thing all his life and he has no criminal record. We’re going to fight this out.”

….

Statement from Coontz’s attorney:

“William Todd Coontz has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Charlotte on several criminal tax charges.  Coontz unequivocally asserts his innocence of these charges.

A grand jury is tasked only with determining whether there is probable cause to believe that a defendant has committed a federal crime. The government presents its evidence to the grand jury in secret and the defense cannot be present. Thus, the grand jury’s indictment of Coontz is not a determination of guilt — it is merely a preliminary finding that is necessary before the federal government can prosecute someone.

The government has chosen to make a statement to the press about Mr. Coontz’s indictment. It must be remembered that Todd Coontz is presumed innocent. Todd Coontz has retained veteran federal criminal defense attorney Mark Foster to represent him in this case and will vigorously defend himself against these charges. Todd Coontz has always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father and minister.  He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS.

We expect that after hearing all the evidence, a jury will fully vindicate Mr. Coontz by finding him not guilty of all charges.

Mark Foster, Attorney at Law”

todd coontz fundraising

Fundraising pop-up from Rockwealth Ministries website

The Rockwealth Ministries BIO (bullshit) page for Coontz states:

Pastor, Evangelist, Television Host, Author,Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Businessman are some words others use to describe Dr. Todd Coontz.

Dr. Todd Coontz’s life of service to God began at age 10 when he dedicated his life to the Lord at the altar in a small country church.  “I’ll go where You want me to go, God … I’ll say what You tell me to say… I’ll do whatever You want! I am yours!” The following night he preached his first sermon on Moses and the Ten Commandments, having just watched the classic movie by the same title. The prayer he prayed in that little chapel changed the course of his life and launched him into more than four decades of ministry and preaching the gospel around the world!

As the Founder/Pastor of Dominion Family Worship Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he proclaims the message of the gospel and The Great Commission to the body of Christ. He loves God’s people and is committed to building a church where everyone is welcome. His ministry extends beyond the local church through his daily television broadcast, FAITH NOW, which reaches 90 million homes in the US and airs globally in over 200 countries. Millions have been touched, inspired, educated, and motivated to become everything God desires for them through his multi-faceted ministry.

A published author with more than 10 books and several best-selling titles, Dr. Coontz ministers effectively on the topics of faith, finances, and building people. As a noted faith teacher and captivating communicator, Dr. Coontz is passionate about the principles of Biblical Economics outlined in the Covenant found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. His objective is to teach God’s people how to qualify, receive and manage wealth based upon Scriptural principles, including those from Deuteronomy 8:18.

In addition to his many endeavors, he finds time to travel internationally with some of the most renown “Generals of Faith” and can be seen on the largest television networks, including TBN, Daystar, INSP, Word Network, and more. He is also the Founder of RockWealth International Ministries, the Owner of Legacy Media, Inc., a media and publishing company, and holds an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Kingsway University.

Dr. Todd Coontz is a minister of the gospel with a heart for God’s people … a humanitarian committed to feeding underprivileged children … and a man of God who lives what he preaches!

An April 3, 2018 WBTV-3 story reports:

The trial is underway for a former Charlotte minister who was indicted for reportedly failing to pay his taxes.

According to prosecutors,Todd Coontz skirted the IRS for years. Federal prosecutors say Coontz allegedly failed to pay taxes and filed false tax returns.

He was the minister of Rock Wealth International Ministries from 2010 to 2014, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Coontz’s website states he is a pastor, evangelist, television host, author, humanitarian, philanthropist and a businessman.

From 2000 to 2014, Coontz consistently failed to make timely payments on his taxes and sometimes owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, investigators said. According to the Observer, Coontez under-reported his income on his tax returns “by not including as income payments made by his corporations and ministry for his personal expenses.”

Coontz also would allegedly get people to make checks out to him personally for speaking engagements, the Observer reported.

The Observer reported that Coontz “enjoyed a life of luxury” and claimed his $1.5 million condo and his luxury vehicles as business expenses. In addition, he allegedly also claimed a boat, clothing purchases, entertainment purchases and $140,000 in meals as business expenses, the Observer reported.

When announcing the charges in 2017, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said this case was “a classic example of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.'”

“As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order. Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due,” Rose said.

The Observer reported that Coontz wrote several books about finances.

Coontz’s lawyer, Mark Foster, said he “always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father, and minister. He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS,” the Observer reported.

“We expect that after hearing all the evidence, a jury will fully vindicate Mr. Coontz by finding him not guilty of all charges,” Foster told the Observer in 2017.

….

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Worship Leader Craig Wieneke Charged With Distributing Child Pornography

craig wieneke

Craig Wieneke, assistant worship leader for Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri, has been charged with “receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.”

KY-3 reports:

A federal grand jury indicted a former music director of a church in Springfield for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet. The charge against Craig Wienke [sic], 31, of Springfield, was unsealed on Monday after being handed up on June 13.

Wienke [sic] made his first court appearance on Monday. He remains in jail pending a detention hearing on June 22. A judge put him on an accelerated track for trial, which could be held as early as Aug. 21.

Investigators believe Wienke [sic] received and distributed child pornography over the Internet between last Nov. 10 and April 4. Wienke [sic] was music director at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield in that period.

The FBI, the Springfield Police Department and the Greene County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case. It’s part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

KSPR-33 adds:

Craig Wienke [sic], 31, is charged with distributing and receiving child porn online. The executive pastor says he was the assistant worship leader at Ridgecrest Baptist Church.

Church leaders say Wienke [sic] worked at the church while kids were present but did not work with them directly. They say none of the children at the church are involved in the case against him.

Church leaders say they fired Wienke [sic] in April when they found out about the investigation. They say had no way to tell ahead of time.

“Everyone gets a thorough background check,” said Executive Pastor Wayne Barron. “For Craig, he had just never, there was no record there because he had never had any issues with the law regarding this. So he’d been through all the process, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Black Collar Crime: Former Pastor Scott Nesbitt Says He Has a Fetish For Using Young Girls

scott nesbitt

Former pastor Scott Nesbitt was recently charged with “one count of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 16 and possession of child pornography.”

FOX-6 reports:

A 48-year-old man from Monroe was busted at a Waterford McDonald’s restaurant as he attempted to meet up with a person he believed was a 15-year-old girl with whom he’d been chatting online, prosecutors say.

Scott Nesbitt faces one count of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 16 and possession of child pornography.

According to a criminal complaint, an investigator with the Racine County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force on April 22nd was using an undercover profile on a website, and began investigating an individual with the user name: “MoxyMan.” The investigator said MoxyMan contacted his profile and he was advised that the profile user was a 15-year-old girl. MoxyMan then stated he has “a fetish for using young girls,” and he was “thinking of ways to defile your innocence” — telling the undercover investigator: “I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to corrupt your innocence.”

Prosecutors say Nesbitt, through the MoxyMan profile, described inappropriate things he wished to do to the girl.

When reminded that the girl was only 15, the complaint indicates Nesbitt said: “I think age of consent laws are arbitrary. We should all be allowed to engage in whatever we are comfortable doing whenever we’re ready. In an ideal world, young people should be tutored by their elders in sex, just like we do everything else.”

The complaint says Nesbitt told the girl: “With enough aggressive training and psychological games, I will fashion you into the perfect little slave.”

Prosecutors say MoxyMan eventually disclosed his name is Scott and he’s married. Investigators say Nesbitt agreed to meet with the person he believed was a 15-year-old girl at McDonald’s in Waterford. That’s where he was arrested, on June 10th.

At the Racine County Jail, Nesbitt agreed to speak with investigators. He admitted to making the MoxyMan profile and having sexually explicit conversations with a person he believed was a 15-year-old girl. He told investigators there would be child porn videos and photos on his phone and laptop. A search warrant was executed on his phone and laptop, and investigators say one image was found on his phone, and hundreds were found on his computer.

KCII Radio adds:

A former area pastor is in Racine County Jail in Wisconsin.

Scott Nesbitt, 48-years-old, faces three felony charges. Charges include use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, 2nd degree sexual assault of a child, and possession of child pornography. Bond is set at $50,000.

….

Once Nesbitt was taken into custody, Search Warrants were served on his cell phone and his residence in Monroe, WI. Multiple images of child pornography were obtained at his residence and the cell phone he had in his possession.

Further investigation of Scott A. Nesbitt revealed that before moving to Wisconsin, he lived in Dubuque, Iowa where he was employed at several area Churches.

Sheriff Christopher Schmaling states, “although challenging and labor intensive, the arrest of this pedophile is a shining example of our ongoing effort to keep the children of Racine County safe”.

Black Collar Crime: Anglican Youth Pastor Garth Bent Sentenced for Sexual Molestation of Young Boy

busted

Garth Bent, former youth pastor and camp counselor for St. Bride’s Anglican Church in Clarkson, Ontario has been convicted and sentenced for sex crimes committed in the 1980s. This is his second conviction.

Mississauga.com reports:

A former Mississauga youth pastor and camp director has received a conditional sentence after being found guilty of an indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy 35 years ago.

It’s the second time that Garth Bent, 58, a former camp counsellor at Ontario Pioneer Camp in Algonquin Park and former youth pastor at St. Bride’s Anglican Church in Clarkson, has been convicted of assaults on young boys dating back several years ago.

In the most recent conviction on May 29, Bent received a 12-month conditional sentence in Brampton, the first six months of which will be spent effectively under house arrest, and must register as a sex offender for life.

Court heard that over a 10-day period in the summer of 1982, Bent, then 22 and working at the pioneer camp as a canoe trip leader, assaulted the then-13-year-old boy by touching his genitals on two occasions while the two were in a tent.

The victim, now 47 and married with children, didn’t come forward with allegations until 2014. His victim impact statement chronicles the effect of the “sexual molestation” on his life which has included trouble with relationships, anxiety, and resorting to alcohol to “deal with internal emotional turmoil,” Justice Casey Hill said in his ruling.

The victim said he felt compelled to come forward and tell his story.

“Too often these situations are not reported, too often the accused gets off on a technicality, too often it’s just simply too difficult for the victim to relive the events. If someone out there hears about my experience with Garth Bent and sees that I had the courage to stand up and tell my story, conviction or no conviction, then I truly believe I have done something very valuable for our society. This makes me feel good and begins my healing,” he told the court.

“How did Garth Bent impact my life? My experience with Garth Bent sits right in the front of my mind every day. The memory is horrible. I’ve tried very hard not to let it impact my life in a horrible way. It’s a battle that I will continue to fight on a daily basis. Maybe if the punishment is severe enough for Garth Bent’s past actions on me and others it may send a message to those who prey on children and hopefully they will think twice before they act and impact someone’s life forever.”

Back in 2009, Bent pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault of a male person and one count of attempted indecent assault. The assaults, committed against boys aged 13 to 15 between 1981 and 1983, occurred in the context of Bent’s church or camp activities, court heard.

“The indecent assaults generally involved fondling and masturbation of the victims,” Hill said, noting Bent received an 18-month conditional sentence for those assaults.

….

“In the present case, the sexually inappropriate touching of the young victim was intrusive, frightening, and repeated by a senior individual in a position of trust in the context of a wilderness canoe trip where the vulnerable victim was away from his parents,” Hill said.

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Director of Children’s Ministry Domenic Bisesti Accused of Sex Crimes

dominic bisesti

Domenic Bisesti, director of children’s ministry for Anona United Methodist Church in Largo,Florida, was arrested yesterday on charges of “lewd and lascivious molestation.”

WFTS reports:

The director of the children’s ministry at a Largo church was arrested after police say he inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl.

Domenic Victor Bisesti, 31, worked at Anona United Methodist Church located at 13233 Indian Rocks Rd.

A senior pastor told ABC Action News, Bisesti has been removed from his position and is no longer allowed on church property.

“I had no reason to doubt his integrity, he was a trusted employee,” said Jack Stephenson, senior pastor at Anona United Methodist Church.

The girl identified him and said he touched her inappropriately during a church function and on church property on several occasions over the past several months.

According to Largo police, Bisesti touched the girl in a lewd and lascivious manner on the buttocks area over her clothing.

When she realized it was not accidental, she told him to stop but he continued. She told her mother who then reported it to the police.

Information retrieved from the girl’s cell phone also contributed to the arrest.

The 31-year-old youth director worked with hundreds of kids every Sunday. Bisesti directed drama and dance teams and coordinated youth worship services.

“We do background checks on a constant basis,” said Stephenson. “We make sure that staff is trained to be very safe, to be very appropriate, to be very age appropriate.”

Bisesti was arrested for Lewd and Lascivious Molestation. The church was notified, and it is unknown at this time if there are any other victims.

Pastor Stephenson says the church is bringing in counselors to help parents talk to their kids about what happened.

“We’re really trying to help parents deal with this and if there are other victims, we’re trying to help parents talk to their children in safe way where they might be able to ascertain that.”

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Franklin Fountain Accused of Fraud

holy convocation

Franklin Fountain, apostle/bishop/pastor of Resurrection Ministries International in Bridgeport, Connecticut stands accused of fraudulently selling his church’s building. The new owner? Fountain, who bought the building for one dollar.

CT Post reports:

The pastor of the Fountain of Youth Cathedral won the hearts of his congregation — then stole their church, police said.

Bishop Franklin L. Fountain may eventually have to answer to a higher authority but in the meantime he will face a Superior Court judge.

Fountain is charged with first-degree larceny and second-degree forgery after police said he forged deed documents and sold the Madison Avenue church to himself for $1.

City property records show Fountain is now the owner of the church and property valued at $1.5 million.

“Isn’t this all ridiculous,” Fountain, 55, said Wednesday after being released on a promise to appear in court. “I am the pastor and I deserve respect and I expect that this will all be worked out.”

He could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges. His lawyer, Erroll Skyers, said he is anxiously waiting to see the police report before commenting.

Police Detective Francis Podpolucha said they had received a complaint from the church’s Board of Directors, Fountain’s younger brother James Fountain and his uncle Donald Fountain that without authorization from the board, Bishop Fountain had altered the deed documents and sold the church at 324 Madison Ave. to himself.

Franklin L. Fountain took over as pastor of the church, which was founded in 1960, from his father, Franklin D. Fountain who died in 2005.

….

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor David Hoppenjan Sentenced for Child Sex Crime

david hoppenjan

David Hoppenjan, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Pace, Florida was sentenced yesterday to twenty-one months in prison for “traveling to meet a minor for sexual contact.”

The Pensacola News Journal reports:

A Santa Rosa County minister has been sentenced to almost two years in state prison for a child sex offense.

David Donald Hoppenjan, 53, will be designated as a sexual offender following his release from prison. Circuit Judge John Miller imposed the 21-month sentence on Tuesday for one count of traveling to meet a minor for sexual contact.

Hoppenjan was arrested during a sting operation called Operation Undertow, conducted by local and state law enforcement agencies in September.

The operation led to 22 arrests, according to News Journal archives. According to the Pensacola Police Department, undercover agents posed as teenagers on various websites and were contacted by suspects who wanted to meet the minors for sexual acts. The suspects were arrested when they arrived at the meeting location.

Hoppenjan was a pastor at First United Methodist Church of Pace. News Journal archives show Hoppenjan served as executive pastor at Shalimar United Methodist Church prior to his Pace appointment, and served as youth pastor at First United Methodist Church in Wetumpka, Alabama.

Black Collar Crime: Youth Pastor Jeff Bondi Guilty of Sexually Assaulting Babysitter

jeff bondi

Jeff Bondi, a youth pastor for Galilee Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was found guilty today of felony sexual penetration. Bondi had been previously accused of sex crimes for which he was not prosecuted.

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

In the end, it was the testimony of people who had been close friends or trusted colleagues of Jeffrey Bondi’s that led to the former youth minister’s conviction on a sexual assault charge.

There also were Bondi’s own words: played in the courtroom from two phone conversations recorded by police, one of which was between him and the victim.

On Thursday, Circuit Judge Thomas Padrick found the 48-year-old guilty of felony sexual penetration for assaulting the woman in October 2001. She was 18 and babysitting his children at the time.

Sentencing was set for Oct. 10. Bondi could get anywhere from five years to life. The judge, however, could choose to suspend prison time.

Of the seven witnesses called by prosecutors, three had been among his closest friends, all of whom he met while attending the University of Virginia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Two were former colleagues at Galilee Church at the Oceanfront, where Bondi was working as a youth leader when the assault occurred.

A crucial prosecution witness was the victim: Margaret Anne “Mav” Viola. The Pilot typically does not identify sexual assault victims, but Viola agreed to have her name published.

Viola had been a member of Bondi’s youth groups and was a frequent babysitter for his kids. She’s 34 now and lives in Los Angeles, where she is a successful stand-up comedian.

“I’m in a bit of shock right now,” Viola said as she stood outside the courthouse with prosecutors. “I feel that justice was brought and the truth was brought forward, and I feel very proud of that.”

Bondi, who has Parkinson’s disease, shook from tremors as the judge explained his decision. One of his daughters could be heard sobbing in the courtroom. The judge agreed to allow him to remain under house arrest until his sentencing.

The day began with closing arguments in a courtroom packed with supporters from both sides.

Among the spectators was a longtime Child Protective Services worker. She investigated Bondi in 1997, when he was accused of fondling a 15-year-old girl on a bus returning from a Young Life youth ministry camp in North Carolina.

The investigator determined then that the allegations were credible and that the chance he would offend again was high, according to a CPS report of the incident. But no charges were brought because it was alleged to have occurred on a moving bus, and jurisdiction could not be established, the report said.

The girl, now in her mid-30s, was interviewed by prosecutors. She did not testify during the trial, but could be called during sentencing.

Viola testified that she had just begun her first semester at James Madison University when Bondi called and asked if she could come to Virginia Beach for the weekend to babysit his three young children. His wife, who was expecting their fourth child, was going out of town to attend a wedding.

Viola said the children were asleep and she was watching a movie when Bondi came home. He lay down by her, fondled her breasts and penetrated her with his fingers, she said.

The experience severely traumatized her and caused an eating disorder she had battled in high school to flare up again, she said. Her grades plummeted, and she dropped out in her second semester. She later returned and earned her degree.

Sara Olsen, a former co-worker of Bondi’s at Galilee Church, testified that Viola told her about the assault the next day. Leigh-Ellen Rodriguez, who had been a close friend of Bondi’s since they attended the University of Virginia together, testified that she saw Viola at a Halloween party the next night and could see that she was upset. When she asked why, Viola told her what happened.

Two other college friends testified about dinners they had with Bondi, in which they confronted him about the allegations.

In a phone call with Viola recorded by police, Bondi apologized to her, but said he did not remember the events that night the same way she did. But he didn’t deny that her memory of it might be the correct one.

The judge said the most compelling pieces of evidence for him were three pictures prosecutors submitted of Viola as a teen. She had long hair and looked like a “very young, smiling and innocent girl.”

“She was very naive, very trusting, a really sweet teenager. She did all the things parents want their children to do,” Padrick said. “She looked up to you as a pastor, and you sexually abused her.”

The judge also was highly critical of the adults involved in the case and leaders of the church at the time, whom he said should have reported the allegations to police.

“It’s just shocking that the church abandoned her,” he said.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest John Mraz Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

pastor john mraz

John Mraz, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty last week to possession of child pornography, illegal use of a communication facility, and obtaining obscene/sexual images.

Lehigh Valley Live reports:

A former Emmaus priest admitted on Thursday to downloading nude pictures of children for sexual gratification.

John Mraz, a monsignor and pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Emmaus before being removed from public ministry, pleaded guilty to all three charges against him: possession of child pornography, illegal use of a communication facility and obtaining obscene/sexual images.

He is slated to be sentenced at a later date, following a presentence investigation. Under the plea deal, Mraz’s minimum sentence is capped at 6 months in jail, meaning the judge could sentence him to less than that.

The 67-year-old Mraz has “serious medical issues,” according to prosecutors, and used a walker to walk into court and up to the judge’s bench. Mraz currently lives at Holy Family Villa for priests in Bethlehem while being free on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Lehigh County prosecutors said the images were discovered by a church parishioner and friend of Mraz’s, who was updating the priest’s computers in July.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Falk said the dozen images would be described as child erotica, and depicted nude images of children between the ages of 10 and 15 performing everyday activities.

“The vast majority were not children engaged in sexual activity,” Falk said.

Search terms on the laptop included “little boy” or “young teen” performing a sex act, Falk said. Mraz told Judge Maria Dantos he did not recall the file names or descriptions of the images, but that if they were on the laptop, he downloaded them.

….

Original story

Black Collar Crime: Alleged Victim Count Up to Ten in Temple Baptist Church of Kokomo Sexual Abuse Scandal

donald croddy

Donald Croddy

Please read previous posts on this scandal: Black Collar Crime: Woman Claims Evangelical Pastor Mike Holloway Knew She Had Been Sexually Abused and Did Nothing and Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Mike Holloway Denies He Knew Anything About Woman’s Sex Abuse Claim, Black Collar Crime: Another Victim Comes Forward in Temple Baptist Church of Kokomo Sex Abuse Scandal and Black Collar Crime: The Temple Baptist Church of Kokomo Sex Abuse Scandal Continues.

Today, The Kokomo Perspective released another episode in their ongoing coverage of the Temple Baptist Church sex scandal. Devin Zimmerman writes:

When the story first broke concerning allegations of sexual molestation by a Kokomo man, five victims relayed their accounts of painful childhood memories.

That was in April. Now, a little more than two months later, Dawn Price claims more than 10 individuals have joined her in claiming that they too were sexually abused as children by her adoptive father, Donald D. Croddy. Price said she suspects there may be more, and as such, she wants them to step forward in an effort to find justice.

“We want as many victims as possible to get the justice they deserve, to stop him because people like him don’t just stop,” said Price. “He has probably stopped at the moment because of all this, but there’s no way people like him just stop. We know there’s more out there, and the more we have the better the case we have. I want as many people who are the victims to get in on this and get their justice because to me this is a one-time deal.”

At the moment, Price said she and the other alleged victims are considering moving forward with a civil case, although nothing yet has been done officially. This would be the mostly likely path of recourse since the statute of limitations has expired for most of the alleged victims. First, however, she said anyone who believes they were molested by Croddy should file a police report.

“We can’t get him criminally unless somebody comes forward who is still within the statutes, which is kind of what we’re hoping for,” said Price. “Not that we want there to be a victim, but nobody is after, really, money. We just want him exposed, and we want him punished. Right now, with the laws the way they are, the only way he can be exposed and punished is to take him to court civilly and get his money. Most don’t want his money; they just want him outed, and they want him punished. If we were to win any money, that would go towards helping the victims get therapy.”

….

According to Price, more than 10 individuals have contacted her claiming Croddy molested them as children. A common thread, she said, is that the majority came into contact with Croddy while attending Temple Baptist Church, of which Croddy was an active member. Price long has alleged that she told the church’s pastor, Mike Holloway, about her abuse at the hands of her adopted father during a confrontation in 1991 preceding her wedding. During this conflict, she said Holloway refused to hold Price’s wedding at the church she attended as a child, and Price continues to maintain that her father confessed to molesting his daughter during event. Holloway continues to deny this claim.

“I know there’s more people out there,” said Price. “People are scared, and I understand that. But this happened when they were minors, so their name doesn’t have to be out there publicly. They’re scared. I know two of them are deathly scared, and they won’t do anything because they’re scared of my dad and the church and the repercussions that they will get.

“To me, a church shouldn’t be that way. In my opinion, it’s supposed to be a safe haven and a place to help people like these victims. If they can’t be the safe haven, I would like them to reach out to me. I can do what I can to help them and be a safe haven. Even if they don’t want to be a part of the legal action, just to get them some help. That’s all I’m doing this for is to get them justice and get them help because I know how debilitating this kind of thing is.”

Temple Baptist Church Abuse Survivors Facebook Page

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