Menu Close

Category: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Conrad Estrada Valdez Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

pastor conrad estrada valdez

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 2019, Conrad Estrada Valdez, pastor of Restoration Outreach Christian Church in Houston, Texas, was accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. Yesterday, Valdez pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

ABC-13 reports:

A Houston-area pastor has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the sexual assault of a child.

Conrad Estrada Valdez , 61, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the charge of sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14 and 17.

Valdez was a pastor at The Restoration Outreach Christian Church, according to Harris County sheriff’s deputies.

In 2019, a then-30-year-old woman disclosed to authorities that she was sexually abused by Valdez when she was 15 years old. She described Valdez as a longtime family friend and her pastor/mentor at the time.

She told deputies that she started visiting the pastor for counseling after experiencing a previous sexual assault.

She said what started as Valdez inappropriately touching her later progressed into sexual intercourse.The woman said she didn’t come forward sooner because Valdez had threatened to expose the situation to her family.

She told deputies she eventually came forward after watching a documentary on survivors of sexual abuse.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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 Douglas Hammond Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $285,000

pastor douglas hammond

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.

Douglas Hammond, pastor of Olivet Assembly of God Church in Olivet, Michigan, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to embezzling $285,000 from his church.

The Lansing State Journal reports:

An Olivet pastor has pleaded guilty to embezzling $285,000 from his church, according to prosecutors. 

Douglas Hammond pleaded guilty as charged Friday to one count of embezzlement over $100,000, said Eaton County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chris Anderson. 

Hammond stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Olivet Assembly of God Church when he was a pastor there, according to court records. The embezzlement is believed to have taken place over nearly six years, from January 2014 through November 2019, Anderson said in an email.

Hammond’s attorney, David Carter, said Hammond is not likely to be able to pay back the restitution he will owe because he is living at poverty level at the moment. 

Hammond was scheduled to go to trial earlier this year, but it was canceled and he instead pleaded guilty two months later. Carter said this is because Hammond “wanted to do what was right.” 

Carter declined to comment on why Hammond stole money from the church or what he did with the money. He said he did not have Hammond’s permission to speak about that. Carter did say, however, there were “a lot of special circumstances” with the case.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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: Josh Duggar Found Guilty of Child Porn Possession

josh duggar

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.

Earlier this year, Josh Duggar, of “19 Kids and Counting” fame, was accused of receiving and possessing child pornography.

CNN reports:

Former reality TV star Joshua Duggar has been arrested on federal charges related to the possession of child pornography, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas.

Duggar allegedly downloaded material that depicted the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, the US attorney’s office said in a statement. Duggar allegedly possessed the material in May 2019.

Duggar, the oldest son of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, whose family was the subject of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” faces two charges, the indictment shows — one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 if convicted, the statement said.

Duggar was arrested in Arkansas Thursday, according to the statement. He appeared in federal court Friday via video conference and pleaded not guilty to both charges.

In 2015, Duggar was accused of sexually molesting five girls, including some of his sisters. No charges were filed against Duggar.

The Daily Mail reports:

The arrest marks Duggar’s latest brush with the law after his father, Jim Bob, reported him to police in 2006 for allegedly molesting five young girls over multiple occasions back when he was 14 and 15. It took several years and a tip-off to local police that finally forced Jim Bob to report his son’s behavior to authorities.

Josh’s behavior was first discovered in March of 2002, when one of his youngest sisters went to Jim Bob ‘very upset and crying’. Josh admitted to touching her breasts and genitals while she was sleeping on multiple occasions.

In the report, Jim Bob said Josh was ‘disciplined,’ though didn’t reveal what the discipline entailed. 

But there were more incidents to follow after that. And it was revealed that Jim Bob decided to finally go to authorities after an anonymous tip was made to the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline about Josh’s behavior.

Finally speaking to police on Dec. 12, 2006, Jim Bob said when he learned about what his son was doing, he ‘met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on.’ 

They sent Josh to a Christian program that consisted of hard physical work and counseling from March 17, 2003 to July 17, 2003. 

It later emerged that the institute’s founder, Bill Gothard, was accused of sexually harassing or assaulting 34 women in 2014 and resigned shortly afterward.  

It wasn’t until May 2015, when the police report leaked in the media, that details of the accusations went public. The reality show was cancelled by TLC two months later. 

Duggar’s sisters, Jessa and Jill Duggar, have since claimed they were two of their brother’s alleged victims. 

Duggar later found himself caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal. The Daily Mail reports:

Months later, Duggar was rocked by another scandal when it was revealed that he had an account on Ashley Madison – the cheating website for married men.

He released yet another statement apologizing for cheating on his wife, saying: ‘I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the Internet and this has become a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.’

In December 2021, Duggar was found guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison.

US Weekly reports:

Josh Duggar has been found guilty of receiving and possessing child pornography just over one week after his trial began.

The former reality star, 33, was convicted on Thursday, December 9, on two charges of receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material, according to local news outlet KNWA. He faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each count. Sentencing will occur at a later date.

The political activist was previously arrested without bail on the child pornography charges in April. At the time, his attorney entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment and he was released on bond one month later.

“According to court documents, Joshua James Duggar, 33, allegedly used the internet to download child sexual abuse material,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas said in a press release following the arrest. “Duggar allegedly possessed this material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, in May 2019.”

Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar addressed their son’s legal issues in a statement to Us, saying, “We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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: Methodist Pastor Jody Sambrick Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

pastor jody sambrick

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.

Jody Sambrick, pastor of Hopeland United Methodist Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty this week to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 1-2 years in prison.

Lancaster Online reports:

A West Lampeter Township man and former church pastor pleaded guilty this week to possessing child pornography in 2018, West Lampeter Township police announced Tuesday.

Jody Sambrick, 61, was sentenced to one to two years in prison plus eight years of probation upon his release, police said in a news release.

Sambrick, a former pastor at Hopeland United Methodist Church in Clay Township, will also be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years, provide a DNA sample and must undergo evaluation by a Sex Offender Assessment Board, among other conditions, said Sean McBryan, a spokesperson for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Judge Merrill Spahn accepted Sambrick’s negotiated plea on three counts of child pornography, two counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of disseminating photos of child sex acts and ordered the sentence Monday, according to court records.

….

Police and the DA’s Computer Crimes Task Force searched Sambrick’s residence in the 1700 block of Pioneer Road in September 2018, uncovering numerous images and videos depicting child pornography on computers and other electronics, according to the news release.

Sambrick was also previously an assistant tennis coach at Millersville University and started a coffee roasting business in 2013, according to previous reporting.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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: Independent Baptist Youth Pastor Scott Christner Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Sex Crimes

scott christner

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.

Scott Christner, a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Goshen, Indiana, pleaded guilty to child molestation and was sentenced today to twenty years in prison. First Baptist is an Independent Baptist congregation pastored by Gregg Lanzen.

The Goshen News reports:

A former youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Goshen has been sentenced following his conviction for child molestation.

On Wednesday, Scott Christner, 46, was sentenced in Elkhart County Superior Court 3 to 41 years at the Indiana Department of Corrections with 20 of those years being served in prison and the remaining 21 on probation, according to court records. 

He initially was charged in December 2019 with nine felony counts of child molesting and two felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor in one case and another count of child molesting in the other case. He pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement Nov. 4 to child molesting, a Level 4 felony.

Five victims had accused Christner of touching them inappropriately when they were boys while they participated in The Olympians, a youth group they said Christner helped lead at First Baptist Church in Goshen. The touching occurred from about May 2012 through January 2017, as well July of 2019, according to court documents.

Christner was first arrested in November of 2019 as Goshen police investigated allegations made by a boy under 14 years old.

Shortly after the arrest was reported, four more victims, now 19 and 20 years old, came forward. They told investigators they had also been inappropriately touched by Christner when they were approximately 10 to 12 years old, the documents showed. Many of the incidents occurred at Christner’s house.

Christner was arrested and jailed a second time after the new accusations surfaced. He bonded out of jail shortly after both arrests.

WSBT-22 adds:

Scott Christner will spend 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to 5 counts of child molestation. If he had been found guilty of all counts, he would’ve faced 114 years in prison. Five anonymous survivors have come forward since the allegations came to light in 2019.

At the sentencing hearing, Christner read the letter he wrote to the survivors in March 2020. He was stoic at the defense table, but his voice started to break when he spoke about the times he and the survivors had when he was a First Baptist Church youth lead.

“I had a great opportunity to lead and encourage growth. However, I have sinned against you, your families and God,” Christner said.

Christner said he regrets the pain he’s inflicted on the survivors and their families. Michiana Biblical Counseling Center had been working with Christner since he was charged. The counseling center’s director, David Hills, took the stand and said he believes Christner has genuine remorse and wants more counseling help.

“He’s not doing this on his own and therefore will not put himself in a situation to be a repeat offender,” Hills said.

However, the prosecution said Christner took advantage of his authority and the connections he had with the survivors and their families.

One of the survivors — and family members of some of the others — were in court for the hearing. The parents of one of the survivors detailed how their once outgoing son had significant health problems after the sexual abuse and is still recovering from the trauma. In a letter to the court, survivor said:

“For years I wanted to say something to family and friends. I was afraid they wouldn’t believe me.”

The father of one of the survivors took the stand and said he had been lifelong friends with Christner. He said he would take his son and Christner to sports events. He would also leave his son at Christner’s house if he had to go out of town.

“Until things came to light, I was still doing things with my son with Scott this is ingrained, it’s part of who [my son] is. It should’ve never happened,” the survivor’s father said.

When Christner completes his 20-year sentence, he will be on probation and will need to register as a sex offender, pay a $10,000 fine and restitution, and can’t leave Elkhart County without permission.

It is fortunate that the judge in this case didn’t buy the nonsense (which would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the nature of Christner’s heinous crimes) spouted by David Hills, the director of the Michiana Biblical Counseling Center in Osceola, Indiana. Michiana’s website states:

We approach counseling with the strong belief that there is no better counseling tool available than God’s Word! Nothing else even comes close! We believe that the one who made us, loves us, and wants what is best for us has given us His Word to clearly teach us how to live in this world in a way that REALLY WORKS!!! Based on this strong belief, the foundation of our counsel is the Word of God, allowing us to counsel with great joy and confidence.

If the “Word of God” really “works,” why didn’t it keep Christner from sexually molesting numerous children? Further, neither Hills nor his fellow counselor, Deanna Doctor, are qualified to provide counseling for Christner. Michiana is little more than a Fundamentalist church hiding behind the facade of a counseling center. Using the Kevin Bacon Rule, I found that virtually everyone connected to Michiana has degrees from Fundamentalist institutions. The judge was wise to reject Hills’ baseless assertion that Christner is “cured,” and is unlikely to offend again. Well, I guess Hills is right in one regard. Christner won’t have an opportunity to re-offend for twenty years.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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: Anglican Lay Pastor Mark Rivera Charged with Sex Crimes

pastor mark rivera

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.

Mark Rivera, a lay pastor at Christ Our Light Anglican in Big Rock, Illinois — an Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) church plant — was recently charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual assault.

The Religion News Service reports:

A former lay pastor in a conservative Anglican denomination was charged Wednesday (Dec. 29) with two felony counts of criminal sexual assault in the Kane County, Illinois, circuit court. The charges come a year after Joanna Rudenborg reported Mark Rivera, her former neighbor, to Kane County police, accusing him of raping her in 2018 and again in 2020. 

According to Pat Gengler, undersheriff at Kane County, bail was set at $50,000 and Rivera was released after a hearing. “He’s on home monitoring, so he does have a GPS bracelet which greatly restricts his movements,” said Gengler.

….

“I’m glad he was finally charged and the prosecution is happening,” said Rudenborg. “It’s certainly validating that the state looked at the evidence and said, this is a strong case worth pursuing. … I hope that my story being taken seriously by the authorities will help other people take other victims’ stories more seriously.”

….

Rivera is also being prosecuted on charges of felony sexual assault and predatory abuse of a victim under 13 years of age, and at least eight others have made allegations of abuse by Rivera, including child sexual abuse, grooming, rape and assault.

Rivera was a lay minister at Christ Our Light Anglican, an ACNA church plant in Big Rock, Illinois, from 2013 to 2019. He was also a volunteer leader at Church of the Resurrection — the headquarters of the Upper Midwest Diocese — in Wheaton, Illinois, from the mid-1990s until 2013.

On Aug. 28, ACNA announced the members of a Provincial Response Team that would oversee an investigation into the diocese’s handling of the allegations. The denomination was not able to respond to a request for comment by the time of publication, but according to an email sent from the Provincial Response Team to Rudenborg on Nov. 30 and shown to Religion News Service, the group was “ready to begin the initial vetting process to narrow down the list” of investigative firms. That list would then be voted on by both survivors and members of the Provincial Response Team. On Twitter, Rudenborg expressed frustration at the team’s lack of action.

“At this point, I’m safe from Mark, I’m not in any direct danger, so really what I want is for him to not be able to harm anyone else,” Rudenborg told RNS. “The only way we can be sure that that’s going to happen is if he goes back into custody. So it’s kind of still a waiting game.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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 Priest Michael O’Brien Accused of Sexually Molesting Boy

father michael o'brien

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 O’Brien, a former priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen, Colorado, was recently accused of sexually abusing a church boy over three hundred times. Currently, no criminal charges have been filed.

The Vail Daily reports:

A former Aspen Catholic priest not only sexually assaulted a local altar boy approximately 300 times in the early 2000s, he beat the boy when he declined to accede to his sexual demands, according to a civil lawsuit filed last week in Denver District Court.

The Rev. Michael O’Brien allegedly began abusing Keegan Callahan at age 7, soon after he moved to Aspen in the summer of 2004 with his devout Roman Catholic family, the lawsuit states. The abuse of Callahan, now 24 and serving a 14-year prison sentence for committing sex crimes against juveniles in Aspen, allegedly continued through 2008.

“If (Callahan) chose not to comply with O’Brien’s sexual demands, O’Brien would physically punish (Callahan) by hitting him in the torso, chest, and/or back,” according to the complaint, filed Dec. 22. “The egregious acts of sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse (Callahan) suffered resulted in … the developed false belief that rape and torture is normal.”

O’Brien served at St. Mary Catholic Church on Main Street in Aspen from 2002 to 2011, when he left for a six-month sabbatical to address health issues, the lawsuit says. He was later appointed pastor of a Catholic church in Julesburg, though he was placed on administrative leave in September when the Archdiocese of Denver was notified of the abuse allegations.

At that time, Vicar General Very Rev. Randy Dollins said O’Brien “resolutely denied these allegations” and that the archdiocese had not received any other similar allegations against him.

On Thursday, O’Brien’s Denver-based attorney echoed that statement.

“Father O’Brien denies the allegations made by Keegan Callahan in this complaint and will fight the allegations in court,” Kevin McGreevy said.

The Aspen Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Callahan’s allegations. Sgt. Rick Magnuson declined to comment Thursday on an open case.

….

Scott Eldredge, Callahan’s attorney, characterized the allegations as “horrific.”

“It was a repeated, horrific episode of abuse,” he said Thursday. “We’re looking forward to trial.”

….

The Callahan family regularly celebrated mass, received the sacraments and participated in church-related activities, according to the lawsuit. Callahan greatly admired and revered the Roman Catholic Church, served as altar boy for O’Brien and attended classes he supervised.

“The abuse by O’Brien began only a few months after (Callahan) and his family joined St. Mary’s,” the lawsuit states. “O’Brien continued to groom (Callahan) by normalizing sexual abuse and represented to (him) that engaging in these sexual acts was a way of showing God’s love.

“Between 2004 and 2008, (Callahan) was sexually abused by O’Brien at St. Mary’s on approximately 300 occasions.”

The abuse not only caused Callahan to believe rape and torture were normal, it caused him “severe emotional, physical and mental anguish,” and left him with a loss of faith in “any church or institution” and a loss of innocence, according to the complaint.

“Moreover, (Callahan) did not discover … that he was injured or that the cause of his injuries was due to the abuse he suffered until recently because of the profound psychological damage that occurred as a result of (O’Brien’s) actions,” the suit states. “The sexual exploitation and circumstances under which the multiple acts of abuse occurred caused (Callahan) to develop various psychological coping mechanisms, including self-blame, denial, repression, suppression and disassociation from his experiences.”

The suit accuses St. Mary and the Archdiocese of Denver of negligence in employing and retaining O’Brien, which caused Callahan lasting injuries.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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: Former IFB Principal Laverne Fox Sentenced to Prison For Sex Crimes

laverne fox

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.

(Previous posts about Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and its pastor Bruce Goddard: Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo Victor Monteiro Accused of Sexual Abuse, Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Victor Monteiro Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Crimes, Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo “Victor” Monteiro Sentenced to Five Years in Prison, and Pastor Bruce Goddard and His Bait and Switch Tactics)

Former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian school principal Laverne Fox was arrested on July 1, 2019, in Erie, Pennsylvania. Fox was later extradited to California where he faced two counts of lewd acts with a child and two other sexual misconduct charges.

Fox was the principal at the private school operated by Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported:

After his [Laverne Fox] accuser, Kathy Durbin, told pastor Bruce Goddard in 1992 about the sexual abuse and grooming she faced over a span of two years by Fox, Goddard moved Fox to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.

….

Durbin told the Star-Telegram that Fox began grooming her for sex at a young age. In public Facebook posts, she wrote how she thought she had a father-daughter type relationship with Fox.

She realized later that was part of the grooming, she wrote. Fox began having sex with her when she was 15.

During the 1992 conversation with Goddard, Durbin said she dramatically told him that Fox and her had kissed so he would know something more was happening. She was disturbed and confused by the encounters.

Durbin was later forced to attend counseling and write an apology to Fox’s wife.

In January 2021, Fox pleaded guilty to lewd acts on a minor and sexual penetration of a child under 16 years old and was later sentenced to two years in prison.

The Press-Enterprise reported:

The former principal of Wildomar’s Faith Baptist Academy pleaded guilty Friday, Jan. 8,  to molesting a teenage student who babysat for his family more than 30 years ago.

Laverne Paul Fox, 61, who also formerly served as the bus director for the affiliated Faith Baptist Church, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual abuse involving a minor before Judge Mark Mandio at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. Fox is scheduled for sentencing on April 30, and faces a maximum of four years, eight months in prison, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Fox initially was charged with three felony counts, but one of the charges was dropped because the statute of limitations for that specific offense, oral copulation with a minor, had expired, Hall said.

….

“It’s taken 30 years to get to this day. I had my doubts that I would ever get to see it,” said Fox’s victim, Kathy Durbin, in a statement Friday. She was in court Friday, where Fox was scheduled for a preliminary hearing before he pleaded guilty. “Today was not just a victory for me, it was a victory for every victim of childhood sexual abuse,” she said.

Fox was one of two men arrested in connection with a sex abuse scandal at the church spanning nearly 20 years — from 1990 through 2010. The scandal was exposed in 2018 when Durbin and victims of former youth pastor Malo Victor Monteiro went public on social media with their stories. Fox’s and Montiero’s victims claim longtime church pastor Bruce Goddard and his wife, Tammy, were well aware of the sexual abuse allegations but did not report Fox or Monteiro to police. Instead, they transferred them to other churches and made the victims feel like they were to blame.

Bruce Goddard did not return a telephone call seeking comment Friday, and has never spoken publicly on the sex abuse allegations at his church.

In November 2018, Monteiro was sentenced to five years, four months in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting three teenage girls from his youth ministry, all under the age of 18 from 2000 to 2010. His victims also made their stories public on social media in 2018.

Monteiro, now 47, has been serving his sentence at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, and is scheduled to be released from custody at the end of the month, having earned myriad credits while incarcerated, including for good behavior, for time served prior to sentencing, and for participating in various work programs, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Durbin, who is Monteiro’s sister-in-law, said she used to babysit for Fox’s family. She considered Fox a father figure, and his family like a second family, before Fox began grooming her for sex in 1990, when she was 15. She said he frequently complimented her on her looks, bought her gifts, and peppered her with kisses on the cheek and mouth. She said Fox’s advances made her feel “uncomfortable and gross,” but she didn’t want to upset Fox or jeopardize their father-daughter relationship.

“I  didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, it’s very clear that he had groomed me,” Durbin said in 2019.

Durbin said when she informed Bruce Goddard of what was happening, he did not contact police, but instead transferred Fox  to another church out of state. She said Goddard’s wife called her a “homewrecker.”

Fox’s attorney, Paul Grech, said in a telephone interview Friday that Fox pleaded guilty because it was “the right thing to do,” and that he takes responsibility for his actions.

“He’s carried this sense of guilt for the last 30 years, and he wants to make this right,” said Grech, adding that Fox left the ministry prior to Durbin reporting what happened to law enforcement.

“His conscience would not allow him to continue in the ministry,” Grech said. “He’s a man of conscience who made an error, and this is the opportunity to correct it, or at least to set it right as best as he’s possibly able.”

The court took into consideration Fox’s age at the time the crimes occurred — he was in his early 30s — the fact he has committed no other crimes, and has otherwise led a “productive and blameless life” ever since, Grech said. Fox plans to publicly apologize to Durbin at his April 30 sentencing, his lawyer said.

La.com reported:

A former Wildomar youth pastor who engaged in sex acts with a girl 30 years ago was bound for state prison Thursday to serve a two-year sentence.

Laverne Paul Fox, 62, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to lewd acts on a minor and sexual penetration of a child under 16 years old.

The plea was made directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez, without input from the District Attorney’s Office, and in exchange for Fox’s admissions, the judge dismissed a related molestation charge.

In June 2019, the defendant was arrested in Erie, Pennsylvania, and extradited back to Riverside County following an extensive sheriff’s department investigation. He posted a $120,000 bond and was free while awaiting disposition of his case.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Glenn Warrington, detectives became aware of the defendant’s offenses while conducting a separate investigation into the sexual abuse of three teenage girls by another youth pastor, 47-year-old Malo Victor Monteiro of Colton.

Monteiro, who committed the crimes while employed by the First Baptist Church in Wildomar, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to seven sex-related felonies and was sentenced to five years, four months in state prison under a plea agreement authorized by Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen, also without input from prosecutors.

Court records show that Fox’s assaults on his victim occurred in 1991 and 1992. The locations and circumstances were not detailed, nor was there any indication that Monteiro and Fox were acquainted.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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 Pastor Samuel Emerson Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Assault

samuel-and-madelaine-emerson

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 2017, Samuel Emerson, pastor of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church in Surrey, British Columbia, and his wife Madelaine, were charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault.

The Surrey-Now Leader reported:

Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church pastor Samuel Emerson and his wife Madelaine Emerson have been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual touching and threats.

In a media release issued Tuesday afternoon, Surrey RCMP revealed that they received several allegations of sexual assault on May 17, 2017.

On May 18, the Emersons were arrested. Neither were known to police beforehand, and were later released under “strict conditions.”

Samuel Emerson, 34, has been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Madelaine Emerson, 37, has been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

The alleged assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017

….

Surrey RCMP have said the investigation is still ongoing, and they are asking that any potential victims come forward to speak with police, as they believe that there may have been other victims.

“Calling the police to report a sexual assault is a very difficult thing to do, especially when the suspect is someone you knew and trusted, and can leave lifelong emotional scars,” said RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann.

“Our highly-skilled investigators take sexual assaults very seriously, and, supported by our Surrey RCMP Victim Services workers, are here to listen and provide emotional support,” he said.

….

Samuel Emerson’s father, Randy, is the senior pastor of the church. On Facebook, the elder Emerson said:

If you know us and our church please pray. We are under attack like never before and we need the accuser of the saints to be silenced and Truth prevail.

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and expressing love at this time. You are making a difference. This is a time when we must not believe with our eyes and ears but with our spirits. Let God be true and every man a liar. Can’t be specific at this time but your prayers are making a difference. Thanks and much love, Randy.

The Kimberley Bulletin reported on October 13, 2017:

Just weeks after dozens of sexual assault charges were laid against one of its board members in a series of incidents in the Lower Mainland, Cowichan River Bible Camp has been alleged as the scene of other assaults.

Surrey pastor Samuel Emerson, who was a board member of the bible camp, has been charged with 25 criminal code offences related to at least five victims, including: 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Camp general director Gerald Wall confirmed this week the camp has cut ties with Samuel after police announced the charges earlier this month.

Samuel’s wife, Madelaine Emerson, 37, has also been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

Court documents show most of the offences are alleged to have taken place in Surrey, where until his arrest, Emerson was a pastor at the Cloverdale Christian Fellowship.

One alleged sexual assault, according to court documents, occurred in or near Cowichan Bay between July and August 2014.

Duncan resident Alexis Masur attended Cowichan River Bible Camp on River bottom Road for four years starting when she was 15. She alleges she, and others, were assaulted at the camp and at the affiliated Oasis church by an adult that was not Emerson.

“It started out with really long hugs, then their face would get closer to me and they would start giving me kisses on the cheek and then they’d start kissing me on the lips and then the next thing you know they’re caressing me to the point where they’re touching my genitals,” she explained.

She said she knew what they were doing was wrong but she felt powerless.

“They were a really well respected leader in the church and respected at the camp too,” she said. “This person was smart, they knew how to make me take blame. I was so afraid that if I said it out loud that I would never be loved again. This person had power, and if I said a peep, almost everyone I respected would turn on me in an instant.”

Masur is haunted by the youth she left behind.

“When I left that church, I ran, and I never looked back. But I always feel guilty because I know if I had stayed, and fought that I could prevented other people from having the same thing happen to them,” she said.

Masur’s allegations took Wall by surprise.

“This is news,” he said Tuesday morning. “I won’t respond to that right now. All I know is that we do have protocols in place for our staff and that this comes out of left field. I have no prior knowledge of this. Until we have some confirmation through the RCMP, I won’t respond any further.”

….

Masur has not reported her complaint to the RCMP.

On March 15, 2018, The Free Press reported:

Samuel and Madelaine Emerson have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including sexual assault, sexual touching a person under the age of 16, and threats to cause death and bodily harm, in court on Thursday (March 15).

Samuel Emerson, 34, was formerly a pastor of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church. In early October, Surrey RCMP announced that he had been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Madelaine Emerson, 37, was charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

….

In 2020, Emerson was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to two years in prison. His wife was found not guilty.

The Surrey-Now reported:

The former Cloverdale youth pastor who was convicted of sexual assault last year was sentenced this week to two years in jail.

Samuel Emerson received his sentence, which includes a 10-year firearm prohibition, Tuesday at Surrey Provincial Court.

Emerson, who grew up in the South Surrey and White Rock area, was found guilty last November on one charge of sexual assault, but not guilty on a majority of other charges that were laid two years prior, after young members of his congregation approached police.

His wife Madelaine, who was also charged in 2017, was found not guilty.

In finding Samuel Emerson guilty of one count of sexual assault in November, Judge Mark Jetté concluded that the complainant’s apparent consent to have sex with him was induced.

RCMP announced charges against the couple in October 2017. The following March, both accused entered pleas of not guilty. A trial, set for 12 days, got underway this past April in Surrey Provincial Court. It concluded Sept. 4.

Samuel Emerson was tried on five counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual interference of a person under 16.

The assaults were alleged to have happened between 2013 and 2017, at the Emerson family home and at the Cowichan River Bible Camp.

In finding the Emersons not guilty of the other charges, Jetté said reasonable doubt was raised by inconsistencies in some of the six complainants’ evidence; in finding Samuel Emerson guilty of the one count, the judge cited the former pastor’s “calculated effort” to distance himself from the complainant while testifying, including the accused’s insistence that he was never alone with her.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Bruce Gerencser