On October 7, 2014, Lonny Remmers, pastor of Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona, California was sentenced to two years in state prison for “assaulting the 13-year-old son of a church member.” The Press Enterprise reported:
Corona pastor Lonny Remmers, head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, faced an audience of one Friday as he fought to stay out of prison for assaulting the 13-year-old son of a church member.
Remmers, 56, told Superior Court Judge Richard T. Fields how he had mended marriages in his approximately 20-member church and broken children free from years of abuse.
In explaining why he grabbed a pair of pliers and pinched the boy’s nipple during a Bible study – a punishment for the boy raping his sister – Remmers conceded that “I wish I had thought different in the moment to pick a different route.”
Fields was only partly impressed, however, and sentenced Remmers to two years in state prison, the maximum allowed under a plea deal Remmers had agreed to. Fields rejected a request from defense attorney Peter Scalisi to allow Remmers to turn himself in at a later date, and the gray-haired pastor was bound in chains on the spot.
“I recognize the gentleman has done great things,” Fields told Remmers’ supporters and detractors in the courtroom.
But Fields noted other aspects of the punishment that occurred in March 2012 after the boy’s mother brought him to Remmers to be disciplined. Co-defendants Darryll D. Jeter Jr. and Nicholas Craig, who previously had pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a minor, had taken the boy known in court records as John Doe to the desert near Barstow, forced him to dig a mock grave, threw dirt on him and told the boy that his answers to questions would determine whether he lived or died. The boy was then taken to a group home, where he was stripped, zip tied to a chair and Maced, according to court records. The boy was then taken to the Bible study.
“The ultimate consequence of that was unimaginable to me,” Fields said. “That is not an acceptable form of punishment to me, plain and simple. That’s more than a minor misjudgment that I simply cannot ignore.”
Scalisi had urged Fields to grant probation. He said Remmers was remorseful and has helped many people in his ministry.
Friday’s hearing in Riverside provided a stunning conclusion to a case that Fields described as “very unique in many, many ways.”
For one, people who had avoided speaking out during the case that began in March 2012 decided to speak publicly Friday, and they didn’t leave anything out as they tried to persuade Fields to give Remmers probation instead of prison.
The victim in the case and his mother – she moved in with Remmers after his arrest on charges that originally included kidnapping – spoke on the pastor’s behalf Friday.
The boy, now 16, said Remmers “is the best father I have ever known. He means the world to me. He doesn’t deserve any of this. He’s done more to help me in my life than anyone else I’ve ever known. I love this man.”
The boy’s mother, who is not being identified because it could identify the boy, spoke next. She said Remmers pleaded guilty so the boy wouldn’t have to testify about molesting his younger sister. But then she told the court what her son did to her daughter.
She said the incident should have been taken care of in “the family” and not involved police. Remmers taught her son that when it comes to rape, “No means no.”
She claimed that the plea deal was made because of a lack of evidence. Fields interrupted her, reminding her that Remmers voluntarily pleaded guilty.
Corona Pastor Lonny Remmers was sentenced to a year and a day in federal custody Tuesday, April 4, in connection with an Ohio wire-fraud case.
In Toledo, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Helmick also sentenced Remmers, 59, to three years’ supervised probation and ordered him to pay $95,000 restitution. Remmers was sentenced on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; two felony counts of wire fraud were dismissed. Two other counts of wire fraud were dismissed when Remmers pleaded guilty in August.
Twenty-four Remmers supporters submitted letters to the court, vouching for his character.
Remmers, Robert Milam and Mark O. Wittenmyer were accused of soliciting $2 million from an Ohio developer as seed money for an investment fund but instead using the money for their own purposes. Milam was sentenced to 14 months in prison in January. Wittenmyer is scheduled to be sentenced April 18.
Remmers is head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, which has about two dozen members, many of them recovering drug addicts or others who sought refuge with Remmers from their troubled lives.
Astoundingly, Remmers’ church continues to stand behind their man.
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.
The following story will leave you shaking your head, wondering how the pastor in question was able to do what he did.
Last April, Loren Copp, an Evangelical pastor, owner of DoJo Pizza, and all-round con-artist was arrested on charges of producing child pornography. The River Front Times reported:
Loren Copp, the Dojo Pizza owner targeted in a long-running criminal investigation, was arrested Thursday afternoon on charges of producing child pornography.
Federal agents took the 47-year-old into custody about 3:45 p.m. outside the Bevo Mill church where he once taught karate, ran a pizza restaurant, operated a school and raised four teenage girls, according to a witness and his attorney.
The federal complaint claims investigators searched “multiple types of digital media” and discovered an image of a minor performing oral sex on Copp and another of Copp having vaginal sex with the girl. The minor, listed as “Jane Doe 1” in the document, identified Copp as the man in the photos, according to the complaint. She says she was about twelve in the first photo and fifteen or sixteen in the second.
Copp was lured on Thursday to the dojo, which had been boarded up since a law enforcement raid in October, by a city building inspector who called to say someone had broken in, Copp’s friend John Albrecht tells the Riverfront Times.
Copp had asked his friend to drive with him, because he worried he was being set up, Albrecht said.
Copp was the subject of an RFT feature story in December after a series of federal raids on Dojo Pizza. He was taken into police custody for a couple of days in October on suspicion of child endangerment, but he was released without charges.
He has maintained his innocence, blaming the investigation on a disgruntled former live-in volunteer who he’d ejected from the dojo. Court documents filed in support of the early raids revealed police were investigating accusations of human trafficking, alleging Copp forced the teens to work for free in the pizzeria. He denied the charge. The girls were staying him because their parents were on drugs, imprisoned or otherwise unable to care for them, he said. Two of the girls had lived with him so long, they called him their father, and he considered them his daughters.
Parents, visitors to the dojo and one of the girls interviewed by the RFT supported him.
The charges of production of child pornography are new.
Agents who’d previously raided the dojo, a former church in October and November, had been seen taking evidence boxes and computers from the building.
In interviews, Copp has suggested investigators have been trying to set him up and possibly planted evidence. He noted neighbors claim to have seen men who appeared to be law enforcement officers climb in through a back window before one of the raids.
Dojo Pizza owner Loren Copp arrived handcuffed and shackled at the ankles on Friday in federal court for his first appearance since his arrest on child pornography charges.
His attorney had dropped him overnight. Some of his strongest supporters have backed away now that the FBI says it has photographic proof he sexually abused a girl over the course of several years, starting with a stomach-churning snapshot of the two of them in a sex act when she was just twelve years old.
Until a series of law enforcement raids in October and November, he’d lived with four teenage girls in a converted church at 4601 Morgan Ford Road in Bevo Mill where he taught karate, established a school and operated a pizzeria.
Federal authorities claim they found the pornographic photos on a computer hard drive seized during one of the raids. Investigators showed the pictures to the girl on Wednesday, and she identified herself and Copp, according to the criminal complaint released on Thursday following his arrest.
Tauna Cowin, whose two oldest daughters lived with Copp most of their lives, says she cried all night after reading the newly revealed allegations.
“If he did do this, I hope he rots in jail,” she told the Riverfront Times. “I’m sorry, but I hope he rots in jail.”
Cowin knew Copp, a former pastor, through her kids’ school and church. When she was losing her home about a decade ago, she sent a son and the two girls to live with him and his wife at the time. The boy eventually moved on, but the girls stayed and began calling Copp “Dad” even though he wasn’t their biological father.
Cowin says the girls previously told her Copp never abused them, but she hadn’t talked to them since his arrest. They have been in foster care since the Dojo Pizza raids last fall.
“I just don’t know how to freakin’ take this,” Cowin said through tears. “It’s hitting me hard. I thought I knew this man, he was my pastor.”
Copp was the subject of an RFT feature story in December and has claimed he was just helping kids whose parents couldn’t take care of them.
Attorney Justin Meehan, a longtime martial artist, had advised Copp for free in the months after the raids. Law enforcement affidavits had described Copp as the target of a “Labor Trafficking and Sexual Abuse” investigation, allegations that the lawyer thought lacked much in the way of support.
He has a policy of not taking on clients who are accused of hurting kids, but a fellow martial artist vouched for Copp, and Meehan eventually agreed to get involved — with the caveat that he’d walk if there was more to it than a weak trafficking case.
Meehan felt “blindsided” Thursday when he learned prosecutors were now pursuing a charge of producing child pornography, he said. True to his word, he has decided to cut ties with Copp.
Yesterday, Federal prosecutors additionally charged Copps with:
two charges of using interstate facilities to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity [and] three counts of transmitting information about a minor with the intent to encourage sexual activity.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a new indictment accuses Dojo Pizza’s Loren Copp of two charges of using interstate facilities to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity. It also added three counts of transmitting information about a minor with the intent to encourage sexual activity.
The indictment alleges Copp tried to get two girls to convince an underage girl to expose her breasts online.
Copp already was facing charges of production, attempted production and possession of child pornography.
Copp pleaded not guilty to the original indictment. His attorney wants a judge to throw out evidence obtained or statements made during searches of Copp’s restaurant and home.
Copp also owned and operated Ma-ji Ryu Christian Karate Association. City officials seized DoJo Pizza’s building to satisfy a $13,940 tax liability. The building was bought at sheriff’s auction for $35,714.
Bargain hunters snapped up 40 years of Southwest Christian Church’s history last weekend. Tables, chairs — even pots and pans used for countless fellowship meals — were sold off as part of the church’s closure.
Southwest Christian has been wrangling with a tangle of debt tied to a failed $2 million church expansion that congregants helped finance. The project sits unfinished at 1694 Smizer Station Road, near Highway 141.
Now the remaining congregants who haven’t scattered will gather Sunday for one final service at a church some have attended for two generations.
At first glance, it seems like a tragic but familiar tale of a church getting too ambitious, growing faster than it ought.
But Douglas Lay, a former pastor at the church, is among those who tell a different story.
By his account, Southwest Christian historically played it smart, avoiding debt and making do with its aging and modest building.
At least it did until it ran into Loren Copp — a pastor and builder with a history of failed financial dealings.
“He left them up a creek without a paddle,” said Lay, who led the church in the late 1990s. “There are good people there.”
Copp, who became the church’s pastor in 2007, was the pastor when Southwest Christian decided to support the expansion project that would include a Christian high school, even though similar efforts in St. Louis County had failed in recent years. It started out at $1.5 million, then grew to $2 million.
Church members helped pitch in on the expansion by buying bonds, using the existing building as collateral.
Today, the project is stalled, mired in mediation with the original developer and lien holders claiming they haven’t been paid.
Copp has since moved on.
Church leaders knew that the building project would be a major undertaking. But they believed they had a plan that would both underwrite the expense and satisfy the church’s goal to expand its outreach.
Under the plan, the new Christian high school would lease the expanded church building during the week.
And to help funnel students to the school and broaden the church’s ministry, some members supported an existing K-8 school Copp was involved with in south St. Louis. Both schools are called Living Faith Christian Academy and are governed independently from the church by Copp’s own nonprofit — Ma Ji Ryu Christian Karate Association. Copp uses his martial arts skills to minister.
In 2011, Copp touted the high school project, saying it would open that fall. He brushed off skeptics, who pointed to other failed school projects in the area.
The schools would be funded by tuition, not church donations.
“This is a school that is going to be run as a business,” he told the Post-Dispatch at the time, adding: “If it doesn’t work, you’ll have a story to write.”
The high school did open. But students could only meet in certain sections of the building because the project was incomplete.
His [Copp] past, however, is marked with bankruptcy, unpaid bills and allegations of deception and poor management.
Illinois records show he owes nearly $10,000 in child support. When he moved to St. Louis in 2003, lawsuits and unpaid bills from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois followed, nipping at his ankles. Most stemmed from construction projects Copp started and never finished.
Problems continued here at Stocker Construction, which fired him from a residential construction manager position in 2006 for severe losses on projects Copp oversaw, said a representative of the now-defunct company.
A year earlier, a judge approved a negotiated settlement of $203,400 to satisfy a suit brought against Copp by the Illinois attorney general. The sum was said to be a portion of what nine customers were owed.
Copp filed for bankruptcy in St. Louis around that time and has repaid just a token amount.
“If he is so conscientious about a soda, how does he feel about our house and other people’s houses that he walked out on with hefty sums of money?” said Ofelia Nikolova, 54, a party in the lawsuit and a former assistant professor in French at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “Tell him to come back and pay me. I’ll take $50,000.”
A March 3, 2018 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story reports:
A former pastor and owner of a St. Louis pizza restaurant and martial arts studio facing federal child sex charges will represent himself at his trial next week.
Loren “Sensei” Copp will have standby counsel, but told U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig Monday that he wanted to represent himself. He faces nine counts in all, including production, attempted production and possession of child pornography and the use of interstate facilities to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Copp has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He also provided a list of five alibi witnesses in a court filing that says they will testify that he was not “at the scene of the crime” on specific dates.
That scene, according to prosecutors, was a combination pizza shop, martial arts studio and youth shelter at 4601 Morganford Road that was raided multiple times in the fall of 2015 after claims that Copp was not adequately caring for or paying underage employees.
DoJo Pizza operated as a nonprofit to support free karate classes, its website once said.
Investigators said they found child porn during the searches, and subsequent charges claim Copp sexually abused multiple young girls.
One was between 10 and 13 when Copp first fondled her, prosecutors say in court filings. He later raped her, they say, and she couldn’t accurately count the number of times she was abused. Filings say Copp also made videos of the sex acts, and she witnessed him abusing another resident of the shelter. He had child porn featuring the first teen and another underage girl, and also tried taking photos of two girls undressing, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors have also said they will use statements Copp made to a fellow inmate at the St. Charles County Jail and phone calls and emails from his time behind bars awaiting trial.
On April 111, 2018, Copp told the court he is innocent and that there’s an explanation for the child porn on his computer.
Last June, James Love, pastor of New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Brooklyn, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl. The New York Post reported:
James Love, 45, was arrested Friday at 10 p.m. and slapped with criminal charges for sexually abusing the girl at an apartment in Woodside, according to a criminal complaint.
Police sources said Love, who told cops he was a pastor at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Manhattan, assaulted the girl “on several occasions.”
The church didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment, so his status couldn’t be confirmed.
The girl’s mother told cops that Love exposed himself to the girl, placed his genitals in her hands and rubbed her privates over her clothes between March and June, according to the criminal complaint.
A 7-year-old girl bravely testified in Queens court Tuesday against a Manhattan pastor on trial for sexually abusing her.
The child told jurors that James Love, formerly a minister at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Harlem, had fondled her several times when she was just 6-years-old between March and June of 2016.
Love’s wife ran a daycare out of the couple’s Woodside, Queens, apartment where she watched the victim and seven other children.
The 46-year-old minister was making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his son when the young girl, wearing her school uniform, went into the kitchen to get a glass of water.
“He touched me,” she said at the first day of Love’s trial in Queens Supreme Court. She told him to stop, but he persisted then led her into a bedroom, pushed himself against her and tried to kiss her.
“It was kind of disgusting,” she said as Love, wearing a tan suit, sat at the defendant’s table with his hands clasping his walking cane.
It wasn’t the first time Love had put moves on the child. On another occasion, he opened his zipper and told her to touch him, she said.
Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Rizk told jurors in opening statements that the girl finally told her mother “in between muffled sobs” what had happened, which led to Love’s arrest.
Defense lawyer Todd Spodek insisted that the girl made the story up because her account kept changing.
He questioned how Love could have pulled off the alleged crimes when there were two other adults and seven children in the apartment.
Further, even after Love’s arrest, two parents continued to entrust their children in his wife’s care because they didn’t believe the allegations, he argued.
“Children can lie for a number of reasons,” he said.
Love is charged with one count of sex abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Other victims came forward, but he’s only charged with crimes relating to the young girl, according to a source.
A former church pastor recently convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday, the Queens District Attorney announced.
James Love was found guilty of sexually assaulting the young child, who was a ward at his wife’s Woodlawn day care, earlier this month.
Love, the former pastor of New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Harlem, sexually assaulted the little girl numerous times over the period of a year from June 2015 to June 2016, prosecutors said.
The now-seven-year-old bravely testified against Love during the ten-day trial.
The 46-year-old fallen man of God must also register as a sex offender.
“The victim’s mother dropped off the youngster at a trusted babysitter’s home, she had every expectation that her daughter would be cared for and protected,” Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement. “Instead the husband of the sitter took advantage of the girl’s proximity and repeatedly violated her for his own sexual gratification.”
Defense attorney Todd Spodek called his client’s conviction “a perfect example of the uphill battle victims of false allegations of sexual abuse face at trial, and ultimately at sentencing.”
A 24-year old pastor who is accused of “fingering” a three year old girl and using his penis to “brush” her vagina, on Wednesday appeared before a Circuit Court in Accra.
Wisdom Kusorgbor, the Head Pastor of Soldiers of the Cross Ministries at Korle-Gonno, charged with indecent assault pleaded not guilty.
The court presided over by Mrs. Marian Affoh admitted Kusorgbor to bail in the sum of GHC 8,000 with three sureties to reappear on April 11 for trial to commence.
Prosecuting Detective Inspector Kofi Atimbire said the complainant, a businesswoman resides at Santana at Chorkor in Accra with the victim who is her daughter while the accused also resides at Korle Gonno.
Detective Inspector Atimbire said the accused person’s mother and the complainant are co-tenants.
According to prosecution Kusorgbor has therefore been visiting his mother and whenever he visits he gives his mobile phone to the victim to watch cartoons.
On December 28, last year, the prosecutor said at about 6:00pm the accused person visited his mother but on reaching there his mother had gone to town.
Prosecution said Kusorgbor, however, carried the victim into his mother room to watch the cartoons on his laptop. Whiles watching the cartoon, accused person inserted his finger and used his penis to “brush” the victim’s vagina. According to prosecution the accused person did not penetrate the victim’s vagina.
Texarkana fire fighter and United Methodist David Akin has been charged with sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl. THV-11 reports:
Texarkana fire captain and pastor has been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
According to the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office, 49-year-old David Michael Akin turned himself in after a warrant for his arrest was released.
On January 28, deputies responded to reports of a sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl. Her parents said on November 12, 2016 their daughter was being watched by Akin’s daughter as a babysitter.
A week later, the mother of the 5-year-old noticed her daughter had an infection near her vagina. The mother took her daughter to the doctor where it was later found the 5-year-old had contracted gonorrhea.
The mother contacted the Morris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. Deputies in Morris County closed the case because they couldn’t develop a suspect but had a sexual assault kit as well as an interview with the daughter.
Later in the investigation, the father of the child said she had told him that Akin pulled a blanket over her head and touched her.
Akin, a captain with the Texarkana Arkansas Fire Department, has been put on administrative leave from the fire department. He has been with the department for 23 years.
Andrew Jackson, youth pastor for The Victory Tabernacle of Hot Springs United Pentecostal Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas was convicted Thursday of rape. Jackson could face up to eighty years in prison for his crimes. Steven Mross with the Hot Springs Sentinel Recorder reports:
A former youth pastor accused of raping two teenage girls in 2014 in Hot Springs was convicted Thursday after a four-day trial in Garland County Circuit Court and could face up to 80 years in prison.
Andrew Lee Jackson, 31, who lists a White Hall address, was found guilty of two felony counts of rape, with the eight-man, four-woman jury recommending a sentence of 40 years on each count. Jackson, who was taken into custody after the verdict and is being held on zero bond, is scheduled to be formally sentenced April 11. Judge Marcia Hearnsberger will decide at the sentencing hearing whether to run the sentences concurrently or consecutively.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding Jackson guilty and less than 30 minutes to recommend the sentence. Lawrence noted Hearnsberger did not instruct the jury to decide on consecutive or concurrent and would be making the decision herself.
Jackson was originally charged with 13 counts of rape, with 10 involving one victim, who was 16 at the time, and three involving the younger victim, who was 13 at the time, one for each incident of rape, but Lawrence said they amended it to two counts, one for each victim, before the trial since each count is punishable by up to life in prison.
The jury heard three days of testimony beginning Monday, including testimony from both victims, Garland County sheriff’s investigators, the girls’ therapist, Jackson, his wife, and his pastor from childhood during the guilt phase.
Lawrence said they also presented cellphone evidence involving text messages sent between Jackson and the two victims that corroborated the victims’ allegations, and she noted that she felt it was a significant factor in the jury’s decision.
They also presented witnesses who “saw various things” which also corroborated the victim’s story, including one who “walked in” on Jackson and the 16-year-old “under the covers” and another who testified about being involved in a three-way phone call with Jackson and one victim.
She said the victims, who each went through three years of counseling and therapy, were both “able to take the stand and talk about what happened to them,” and it was clear the jury believed them.
While the charge involving the 13-year-old was based solely on her age at the time, Lawrence said she used a different approach with the 16-year-old, arguing Jackson was essentially her guardian because she was living with Jackson and his wife at the time the rapes occurred.
“Even though he wasn’t her parent or foster parent, he still qualified as her guardian because she had moved in with him and his wife,” she said, noting that under the law he was then guilty of rape if the victim was younger than 18 years old.
She told investigators she would often spend the night at the Jackson home, sleeping in the living room with Jackson and his wife on a sectional sofa separated into three pieces. She said at one point Jackson told her he “felt like a monster” for what he had done, although she was uncertain what all happened during the encounter because she was asleep.
She said she knew she and Jackson first had sexual relations about a week before the start of school in August on the sectional in the living room while his wife was asleep on the other section.
Jackson was arrested on Dec. 22, 2014, and charged with three counts of rape.
The victim’s sister, 16, was interviewed at that time about any possible sexual contact she had with Jackson, but initially denied anything had happened between them.
The sisters shared a cellphone and had both communicated with Jackson on the phone. In reviewing text messages from the phone, investigators felt confident the 16-year-old was also a victim of sexual abuse.
On Sept. 21, 2016, the sister was interviewed again at Cooper-Anthony and disclosed she had sexual intercourse with Jackson “at least 10 times,” beginning in August 2014 and continuing through October 2014.
She stated the rapes occurred in a bedroom at Jackson’s home and the first time he had covered her mouth while he raped her. She punched him at one point during the rape trying to get him off her. She said Jackson threatened her, telling her if she told anyone he would burn up her family’s house with her and her family inside.
She said Jackson continued to have sex with her almost weekly for nearly three months and that she was scared what he might do if she told anyone.
When questioned, Jackson confirmed he and his wife would sleep in the living room on the sofa sections, but denied the victim’s accusations and insisted his only relationship with her was that of youth pastor.
Wright noted that in mid-December 2014, he viewed “inappropriate text messages” extracted from the victim’s phone, which indicated Jackson had “much more than a youth pastor relationship” with the victim.
In the texts, Jackson made such comments as “I love you so much” and “I missed you this weekend terribly” and “I’m sorry I can’t be with you.”
Fourteen months ago, Jacob Malone, pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Downington, Pennsylvania was arrested and charged with raping and impregnating a teenager who lived with his family. Since his arrest, Malone has remained in jail awaiting trial. On Wednesday, Malone appeared in court expecting the judge to approve his plea deal. Instead, Judge Jacqueline Cody rejected the plea, saying, “Given the facts of this case, I’m not going to accept this plea.”
Calling the circumstances “way too serious,” a Chester County judge Wednesday rejected a plea deal that would have imposed a two-year jail term on a former pastor accused of raping and impregnating an 18-year-old who considered him a surrogate father.
Jacob Matthew Malone, 34, had been a pastor at Calvary Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Downingtown, when he gave the teen alcohol and had sexual intercourse with her while she was intoxicated, he admitted. Sexual contact, which also included touching and kissing, occurred almost daily during the teen’s senior year in high school. The teen, who met Malone at age 12 when he was her youth pastor in Arizona, did not have a father in her life, and Malone invited her to stay with him and his wife in their home in West Whiteland Township. She helped look after Malone’s three children.
In March 2016, the young woman gave birth to Malone’s daughter, whom she called “a sweet, beautiful, and intelligent little girl,” in a statement she read at the Chester County Justice Center on Wednesday. Now 20 and living in Arizona, she addressed “Jake” and said he took advantage of her “mentally, physically, spiritually.”
She recounted regular occurrences before school and before Malone left for work at the church, “as I lay in bed not moving hoping you would get the message that I didn’t want it.”
She said she wanted more than a two-year sentence for Malone, whom she said she had thought was a “godly man,” but “you were something else when no one was watching.”
The girl had told police Malone began to sexually assault her in the fall of 2014.
Under terms of the rejected agreement, Malone would have pleaded guilty to corruption of minors, institutional sexual assault and endangering the welfare of children.
When the judge asked District Attorney Emily Provencher why the plea did not include the more serious rape charges, she said there was a question as to whether the commonwealth could prove the absence of consent.
On Wednesday, Malone, wearing shackles, bowed and shook his head while the woman read her statement before he addressed the courtroom. He did not say he forced himself on her, but he said he had made “mistakes” and should be held responsible for the sexual contact.
Malone resigned in November 2015 after church leaders confronted him about the teen’s pregnancy and he admitted he had impregnated her. He had worked at the church for about 18 months.
In January 2016, police in West Whiteland Township asked for help locating Malone, who they believed fled to avoid arrest. When he returned to the United States from Ecuador, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested him on Jan. 18, 2016, at Newark Liberty International Airport.
It was unclear whether plea negotiations would continue or the case would proceed to trial.
Previously, I reported that Malone planned to admit raping the girl. Evidently, the good pastor had a change of heart.
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.
Larry Holley, pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, Michigan, stands accused of defrauding people out of millions in a sketchy investment scheme. The Washington Post reports: (link no longer active)
Federal regulators are accusing a pastor in Michigan of fraud, saying he used the Bible to persuade retirees and laid-off auto workers to invest more than $6 million with him.
The Securities and Exchange Commission says the Rev. Larry Holley and his Treasure Enterprise LLC owe 43 Michigan investors about $2 million. The government believes Holley also owes investors in 13 other states.
He has not been criminally charged.
The government said Thursday that Holley promised risk-free returns from real estate. He is pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, Michigan. A Detroit federal judge has frozen his assets.
The government says he told investors that he was more credible than a banker because he prayed for their children.
Jeffrey Goss, principal of the Christian Education Alliance — “a unique education ministry to home school families in the Tulsa metro area” — in Tulsa, Oklahoma was arrested Tuesday on child pornography charges. Tulsa World reports:
Jeffrey Richard Goss, 56, is accused of using a video conference chat room to share and view sexually explicit pictures and videos of underage boys and girls, according to a complaint filed in Tulsa federal court Wednesday.
Court documents state that Goss is a principal at a Tulsa school, but they don’t specify which one. Goss’ Linkedin profile states that he is a principal at Christian Education Alliance, 840 W. 81st St.
Christian Education Alliance is a “unique education ministry to home school families in the Tulsa metro area” for grades one through 12, according to its website.
The allegations against Goss were discovered during an undercover operation by Homeland Security investigators in 2015, according to the court documents.
On Tuesday, law enforcement investigators served a search warrant at Goss’s south Tulsa home.
While being interviewed, Goss told investigators that he used the chat room at least five or six times since November 2015 with the intent to view child pornography, according to the complaint. He said he accessed the materials from the school where he works in an effort to hide it from his spouse, the document says.
Unitarian pastor Ron Robinson was arrested on a federal warrant alleging he received and/or distributed child pornography. Robinson is the director of A Third Place Community Foundation in Turley, Oklahoma.
Ronald Eugene Robinson, 62, director of A Third Place Community Foundation, was arrested at his Turley home on complaints of distribution or receipt of child pornography and possession of and access with intent to view child pornography, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.
Tulsa Christian home school alliance principal Jeffrey Richard Goss, 56, was arrested Wednesday on similar allegations in connection with the same investigation, though the cases aren’t connected, according to a news release from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.
Federal investigators reportedly found both men using an online video conference chatroom that allows users to both broadcast video of themselves and watch video of others.
On Nov. 10, 2015, investigators in the chatroom observed various videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Federal agents noted someone with the username “Ed” making comments about raping and hurting the children, according to court documents.
Later, the man showed video of his face. Investigators described him as in his 60s with gray hair and a gray beard. Investigators used the IP address associated with “Ed” to find his account holder information, which led them to Robinson, court documents state.
Federal authorities and the Sheriff’s Office began working together on the investigation last September and arrested Robinson after serving a search warrant at two homes Thursday, according to a news release.
Agents arrested Robinson and took electronic devices from one of the homes, located in the 7000 block of North Cincinnati Avenue. They also served a warrant at a home in the 500 block of East 63rd Street North and discovered a man and two minor children staying in “unsanitary conditions,” the release states.
Law enforcement referred the children to the Department of Human Services for a welfare check, the news release states. After his arrest, Robinson reportedly told investigators he had received child pornography on multiple occasions. He also said he fantasizes about raping and hurting children, the news release states.
Dale and Kaylee Graham, Robinson’s neighbors, had this to say about the good pastor’s arrest:
Dale: It’s very surprising. It’s shocking knowing that we lived there for so long and that there was a potential for somebody to hurt my child that’s been there since she was two. Kids go in there and they had a special station inside that church for kids to go in and color, and he had a whole bunch of kids in there, and that’s even more scary. “It floored me. I was like, what. I mean he’s done a lot of great things, and I know Bonnie is his wife, and Bonnie’s done a lot of great things, you know. It’s shocking. It hurts.
Kaylee: Me and his wife got along really well. I used to say hi to him from across the gate but I never really talked to him that much. He just seemed like a nice guy. I didn’t really think that he would do anything like that,
A pastor of a Baptist church in Old East Dallas has been indicted on a charge of misappropriating over $300,000 of his church’s money.
A grand jury indicted the Rev. Wade C. Davis on a theft charge on March 22, according to court documents.
The 65-year-old pastor of Munger Avenue Baptist Church turned himself in to Dallas police, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported. He posted a $10,000 personal recognizance bond Tuesday.
Davis, who was hired as the church’s senior pastor in 1999, is also accused in a lawsuit of misappropriating church funds beginning in 2012 and continuing through February 2016.
When the church’s board began reviewing its bank accounts, it learned that Davis made numerous withdrawals and charges for personal expenses and without any oversight from the church, according to a lawsuit brought in March 2016.
Davis also attempted to sell property owned by the church without any approval from the board, according to the suit.
The investigation found that numerous purchases had been made on the church’s only debit card, which was in Davis’ possession, the suit stated.
In all, Davis is accused of wrongfully withdrawing about $400,000 from the church’s accounts.
“I mean, just to think that the man of God could possibly have done something this heinous to his members,” Richard Greagor, who said he’s speaking on behalf of the church’s deacons and trustees, told KXAS-TV (NBC5).
Greagor said that some members feel there’s a “cloud of suspicion” around the church.
“Two-thirds of the church decided that they no longer want to be here, so for the past year we’ve been worshipping at Black and Clark Funeral Home in Oak Cliff,” Greagor told the station.
As of today, Davis is still listed as the church’s pastor on its website. Some reports say the good pastor misappropriated upwards of $500,000.
High end shopping sprees, personal car payments and unexplained hotel room rentals.
They are among the allegations made against Dallas Pastor Wade Davis, who’s accused of funneling half a million dollars in church money to his own pocket.
Lifelong church member Erica Williams said the locks were changed on the doors to Munger Avenue Baptist Church when members began wondering why the 123-year-old house of worship was running out of money.
“It was broke, the church was just flat broke,” said member Richard Greagor, who examined finances inside the historically black church last year and says what he found was unimaginable.
“There were liquor purchases an in-town hotel stays and shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and Cadillac repairs it was disheartening,” said Greagor.
Greagor and authorities accuse Pastor Davis of funneling as much as $500,000 to a personal account from a church annuity fund he wasn’t supposed to have access to.
“I think he has lost his way I think it one point he may been a man of God,” said Erica Williams.
But a year before his arrest, Davis, who was hired in 1998, denied the allegations in a letter to the congregation saying, “I am not guilty of committing any crime. I have not broken any laws,” wrote W.C. Davis, Senior Pastor.
Members said the pastor then moved into the church and changed the locks to drive away his critics who have been meeting for months at a funeral home while Davis was still preaching here last Sunday to a handful of loyal supporters.
But he faces a civil lawsuit from those longtime members who want to drive him from the pulpit so they can return.
“My personal goal is that we get back in this church by Easter this year,” said Williams.
If convicted he could face between 5 to 99 years in prison.
Christians suing Christians. I vaguely remember the Apostle Paul condemning such behavior in I Corinthians 6:1-8:
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Why is it that many Evangelical Christians have a hard time believing that pastors, evangelists, parachurch leaders, Christian university presidents, and other notable Christian leaders commit crimes such as sexual assault, rape, child abuse, murder, and fraud or otherwise engage in behaviors deemed by faithful Christians to be sinful? Every time I write a post about a pastor or some other Christian leader committing crime or behaving in ways that make them out to be hypocrites, I end up getting comments and emails from people objecting to my publicizing the story. Often, these objectors leave comments that suggest that they have some sort of inside knowledge about the matter, and once the “truth” comes out the accused will be vindicated. Other objectors will take the “they are innocent until proven guilty” approach, subtly suggesting that these kinds of stories should not be publicized until there has been a trial and a conviction. With righteous indignation they attack me, the messenger, for daring to publish anything about the stories, warning me that God is going to get me for causing harm to his servants and his church. And when the trials are over and convictions are handed down, do these same people return to this site with heads humbly held low, confessing that they did not know these men and women as well as they thought they did? Of course not. If anything, they will demand forgiveness for the offender. After all, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, right?
Last year, I remember a number of people getting upset with me over my publicizing on Facebook their pastor’s criminal behavior. He didn’t do it!. I KNOW this man! I’ve been friends with him for 20 years! He led me to Jesus! It’s just the word of a confused teenager against the word of an honorable, devoted man of God. It was interesting to watch all these outraged people disappear once multiple girls came forward from several churches and said that this pastor had taken sexual advantage of them. Why is it these church members had a hard time believing that their pastor committed felony sexual crimes?
When Jack Schaap was accused of carrying on a sexual affair with a teenage girl he was counseling, scores of outraged members and supporters of First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana came to this blog and declared Schaap’s innocence. These are the same people who, to this day, believe that Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, never carried on with his secretary, and these same people, while not condoning David Hyles’ heinous crimes, demand that he be given favorable treatment since God has forgiven him. Who are we to condemn, if God has forgiven him, they said. He that is without sin let him cast the first stone! Judge not!
Bob Gray, the one-time pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville Florida, was accused of sexually molesting young children. Countless Gray supporters said that their pastor could never do such a thing, yet we now know that it is likely he had been a sexual predator for most of the fifty years he spent in the ministry. How is it possible that a pastor who was considered by many, including myself, to be a Holy Ghost-filled man of God, could, for decades, sexually harm children, yet no one know about it (or at least was willing to report it)?
Last week, Justin White, pastor of First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Come to find out, White was a heroin addict. I found myself asking, how is it possible that a man could preach three times a week and lead a large church while on heroin? Those must have been some pretty awesome and inspiring sermons. Did church leaders know that White had a heroin problem? It seems likely that they did. In 2015, White went out of state for thirty-two days to a rehab center, returning clean to a none-the-wiser church congregation. If news reports are to be believed, White’s recovery was short-lived, resulting in him committing insurance fraud to pay a $11,000 debt he owed to a drug dealer. Despite the evidence and White’s subsequent resignation, there are congregants who believe that their pastor is innocent of all charges. Why do these church members, and others like them, have such a hard time believing that the man who stands in the pulpit on Sunday can be someone other than who he says he is?
These same people have no problem believing that non-Christians commit all sorts of crimes. When newspapers report the crimes of unbelievers these followers of Jesus shake their heads and say, if they only put their faith and trust in Jesus all things would become new for them. In their minds, Jesus is an antidote for bad and criminal behavior. And, to be honest, he often is, or least the idea of Jesus is an antidote for behavior deemed sinful or unlawful. Countless alcoholics and drug addicts clean up after having a come to Jesus moment. While I could write much about why this is so, the fact remains that in some instances having some sort of conversion experience leads people to change their ways. If Jesus really is the antidote for sin and the answer for what ails us, why then do so many Christians fall (or run) into behaviors that are considered sinful or criminal? Why is there no difference behavior-wise between nonbelievers and believers?
The reason then that Evangelicals have a hard time believing their pastors could ever commit the crimes they are accused of is because they think — despite evidence to the contrary — that people are protected from moral and ethical failure by their Christian salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside them. This is why the Black Collar Crime series is so important. The series is a public reminder of the fact that religion, in and of itself, does not make anyone a better person. It can, and perhaps at times does, but there are countless people who are nonreligious or who are members of religious sects Evangelicals have deemed false who live exemplary lives. Religion is not a prerequisite to goodness. And because Evangelicals refuse to understand this, they find it difficult to accept that the men and women they hold up as pillars of morality and virtue can really be perverts and criminals in disguise.
While we should generally trust people, we should not do so blindly, and therein lies the problem for many Evangelicals. They are taught to obey those that have authority over them. They are reminded that gossip is a sin and that church members should not believe an accusation against an elder (pastor) unless it can be firmly established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Jack Hyles was fond of saying, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Countless Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have used this very line to turn back whispers about their sexual infidelity or criminal behavior. You keep your mouth shut now. If you didn’t see it happen, you have no business talking about it. I’m sure former IFB church members can remember blistering sermons about gossip and about the dangers of speaking badly about the man of God. Remember those boys who mocked the man of God in the Bible? Why, bears came out of the woods and ate them. Best keep your tongue quiet, lest God send bears to eat you. How often do Evangelicals hear sermons about not touching God’s anointed? Mind your own business, church members are told, and let God take care of the preacher. If he is sinning, God will punish him. But here is the problem with this kind of thinking: God doesn’t punish sinning preachers. They just keep on sinning and sinning and sinning. They will keep on molesting little boys and girls, raping teenagers, and sleeping with vulnerable congregants until real flesh-and-blood human beings make them stop.
Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, yet did nothing. They were more concerned about the testimony of the church than they were the victims. Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, conducted their own investigations, and once finished, buried the accusations or elicited a promise from offenders that they would never, ever do again that which they were accused of. After all, since Jesus has forgiven them, shouldn’t the church? The short answer to this question is HELL NO! When clergy commit criminal acts that harm other people, they must be held accountable. This is why states have mandatory reporting laws. When church leadership hears of reports of possible criminal sexual misconduct they are required to immediately report these actions to law enforcement. It is not their responsibility to investigate or mete out punishment. We have a legal system that is responsible for investigating crimes and bringing offenders to justice. I wish more churches would be prosecuted for failing to report. If a handful of church deacons or elders had to spend time in jail for not reporting or covering up crimes, perhaps this would put an end to these men and women placing their religious institutions reputations above the welfare of those who have been victimized.
I spent twenty-five years in the ministry. From the time I was fifteen to the age of fifty-one, I was a member of the preacher fraternity. I know what went on behind closed doors. I know about scandals, sexual affairs, fraud, and suspected criminal behavior. I know where the bodies are buried. I know the real story behind Pastor So-and-So’s abrupt call to a new church. I know why certain missionaries had to come home from the field, never to return. I know that preachers are not any different from the people they pastor. Yes, most pastors are good people. Yes, most pastors generally desire to help others. What is also true is that some pastors are lazy and see the ministry as a way to make a quick and easy buck. It is also true that some pastors watch pornography and have sexual affairs with people in and out of their churches. People are people, and the sooner that church members understand this, the better. Stop putting pastors on pedestals. Stop thinking that pastors and their families are in any way better than anyone else. They are not, and I wish that pastors would stand before their congregations on Sundays and be honest about this.
The reason they don’t, of course, is because few congregants want honesty and transparency. Instead, they want pastors who are victorious over sin. They want pastors who are above the fray. They want winners! They want men and women they can look up to as examples of moral purity and virtue. Years ago, I remember admitting in a sermon that I knew what it was to lust after a woman. My objective was to let congregants know that I was just like them, that I was not in any way morally superior to them. After the service a man came up to me and told me that he was upset over my confession. In no uncertain terms, he let me know that he didn’t want to hear about my sins or failures. He wanted a pastor who was a shining example of holiness and righteousness. In other words, he wanted me to be God. Needless to say, this man did not last long in our church. He quickly found out that I was, like the apostle Paul, the chiefest of sinners.
Have you ever attended a church where the pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other revered leader in the church was accused of criminal behavior or sexual misconduct? How did the church respond to these accusations? Were some of the members unwilling to believe that the accused could do the things he or she was accused of? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.