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Category: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor Allen Jones Charged with Possession of Child Pornography

pastor allen jones

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.

Allen Jones, pastor of Lifeway Community Church in Loxley, Alabama, stands accused of child pornography possession. Lifeway Community is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

AL.com reports:

A 48-year-old pastor at a Loxley church has been arrested and charged with four counts of possession of child pornography, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Allen Kyle Jones of Loxley was taken into custody after a weeks-long investigation which began after the sheriff’s office received a tip Jones was downloading child porn.

After the initial tip, investigators developed enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant for Jones’ cell phone, with child pornography found on the device.

According to both his own LinkedIn profile and the church’s Facebook page, Jones has been a pastor at Lifeway Community Church since January 2015. The address listed for Jones on the Baldwin County Jail docket is the church’s address at 16373 Thompson Road in Loxley.

He attended Baptist College of Florida, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Jones has been formally charged with four counts of possession of obscene matter containing the visual depiction of a person under 17 years of age. He was booked into the Baldwin County Jail Tuesday morning and released later that day after posting $60,000 bond.

The sheriff’s office says the investigation remains open and more charges are possible after additional evidence is analyzed.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Baptist Youth Pastor Michael Fisher Sentenced to Twenty Seven Months in Prison for Sexual Assault

michael fisher

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 Fisher, a youth pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to twenty-seven months in prison for sexually assaulting a minor teen girl.

In 2019, CBC reported:

A former youth pastor at a Halifax-area Baptist church has been found guilty of sex charges involving a victim who was 17 at the time of the crimes.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Darlene Jamieson delivered her verdict Monday in the case of Michael Oliver Fisher, who was found guilty of sexual assault and sexual interference.

The victim is 29 now and testified against Fisher, 40, at his trial last month.

The woman told the judge that she considered Fisher to be a mentor and spiritual adviser. The two first met when she was 14.

At that time, Fisher was the youth pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hammonds Plains, northwest of Halifax.

It wasn’t until she turned 17 that they had a series of sexual encounters from January to July 2008 at his apartment in New Minas and at a house in the Halifax area.

Fisher testified in his own defence and disputed the notion that he was in a position of trust over the girl. He also said she initiated all of the sexual activity.

Jamieson had doubts about Fisher’s testimony.

“I find large portions of Mr. Fisher’s evidence to be inconsistent, implausible and evasive,” the judge said in her decision.

“For example, in relation to questions as to whether he considered himself an adult after two years of college in Bermuda and four years of university in Halifax [when he was age 25], his response was that he wouldn’t classify himself as an adult or as a youth and that he would not use such terminology.”

After the verdict, Crown prosecutor Rick Woodburn said the trial was not a “credibility contest.”

“But when you looked at Mr. Fisher, you found him to be very evasive and not truthful in his answers,” said Woodburn outside court.

“And on the other hand, the complainant was very credible and quite accurate with her memory of the events that took place.”

In November 2020, Fisher was convicted and sentenced to twenty-seven months in prison.

CBC reported at the time:

A former youth pastor at a Halifax-area Baptist church has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for sexual interference involving a 17-year-old girl.

At his trial, the court heard that Michael Oliver Fisher began grooming the girl when she was just 14 and by the time she was 17, contact between the two involved kissing, massages, nudity and eventually sexual assault.

The victim, who is now an adult, testified it was her first sexual experience and she had assumed that the first man she kissed would be the man she would eventually marry. Fisher, 41, is 12 years older than the woman.

The offence occurred in 2008 when Fisher was a youth pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hammonds Plains, N.S. He was fired from that job and subsequently lost a job as a youth counsellor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., when the charges were laid.

Fisher was found guilty last December. The sentencing was delayed almost a year by an accident involving one of the lawyers, an illness and COVID-19.

Prior to his sentencing Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Fisher addressed the judge.

“Everything about my involvement was wrong,” he told Justice Darlene Jamieson. “My choices placed her in a situation she should never have been in.

“I feel ashamed of what I did and how ignorant I was.”

Fisher’s lawyer had suggested that the victim had started the behaviour by kissing him. Jamieson dismissed that idea.

“He cultivated the relationship and used his position to sexually exploit a young person,” the judge said in her sentence. “Her participation simply does not matter.”

The woman testified at Fisher’s trial, but did not return to court for his sentencing. Instead, she had a victim impact statement read into the record by the Crown.

“I felt like the shell of a person whose worth and innocence had been taken,” she wrote. “Michael ensured that I isolated myself by telling me to keep everything with him a secret.”

….

In addition to the prison term, Fisher’s name will be placed on the national sex-offender registry for 20 years and his DNA will be recorded in a national data bank.

In 2021, Fisher appealed his conviction.

Saltwire reported at the time:

A former Upper Hammonds Plains pastor is appealing his conviction and sentence for sexually exploiting a member of the church’s youth group.

Michael Oliver Fisher, 42, was found guilty in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in December 2019 on charges of sexual exploitation and sexual assault, for engaging in sexual activity with the girl over a five-month period in 2008, before she turned 18.

Justice Darlene Jamieson sentenced the Dartmouth man to 27 months in prison on the sexual exploitation charge last November after staying the other charge.

The judge said Fisher used his position of trust as youth pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church to build a relationship with the girl starting when she was 15.

“It is clear that Mr. Fisher groomed (her) in order to sexually exploit her,” Jamieson said. “Mr. Fisher, as her youth pastor, youth leader and mentor, was responsible for (her) well-being when she was with him. … He was responsible for leading her on the right path, not on a path to satisfy his own sexual desires.”

Fisher told the court at sentencing that he knew everything about his involvement with the girl was wrong and he was sorry for his actions.

“I know that my choices placed her in a situation that she should never have been in, as someone who was not a grownup,” he said. “They resulted in great pain to her and her family and so many other people over the years, and I regret that she had to deal with that.”

But in his notice of appeal filed in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Fisher threw his trial lawyer, Michelle James, under the bus.

Most of his 14 grounds of appeal allege ineffective representation or, as he calls it, “misrepresentation.”

Fisher claims his lawyer was unprepared for trial and neglected to prepare him for the hearing “despite multiple asks” or call witnesses to rebut Crown evidence.

He criticizes the lawyer’s cross-examination of the complainant and says she neglected to “seriously consider” her motive.

Fisher says the lawyer also didn’t seriously consider his concerns about whether he was fit to take the stand at trial because his father was undergoing amputation at the time, and his concerns about “potential biases of the court.”

He claims the judge placed an “undue burden of proof” on his testimony.

Fisher, who filed his notice of appeal from the Springhill Institution, is asking that his conviction be overturned and a new trial ordered. If the conviction stands, he does not specify how he wants the sentence changed.

A date has yet to be set for the appeal to be heard.

The complainant’s identity is protected by a publication ban. She testified at trial that she met Fisher at the church when she was 14, joined the youth group when she was 15 and began attending its leadership meetings after she turned 17.

She said she had late-night and early-morning video chats and phone calls with Fisher and told the court she trusted him with everything and considered him a gift from God. He began telling her he had feelings for her, loved spending time with her and wanted to hug her.

While cuddling and watching a movie in February 2008, she said she gave Fisher a light kiss on the lips and it was like an explosion happened. She said the relationship quickly progressed to full nudity, sexual touching, oral sex and, by May 2008, intercourse.

Fisher was working part time at the church while attending university. He became a full-time employee in June 2008 after graduating from Acadia Divinity College and was ordained in November 2009.

The church fired Fisher in 2014 after receiving a complaint from the young woman. She went to police in 2016 and Fisher was charged in 2017.

At sentencing, prosecutor Rick Woodburn recommended three years in prison. James requested a conditional sentence of 12 to 15 months.

The judge said a conditional sentence would not provide adequate denunciation and deterrence. “Incarceration is the only suitable way to express society’s condemnation of Mr. Fisher’s conduct,” she said.

She ordered Fisher to register as a sex offender for 20 years and prohibited him from having firearms for 10 years. He also had to provide a DNA sample for a national databank.

The disposition of Fisher’s appeal is unknown.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Terry Reed Accused of Raping Two Teen Boys

pastor terry reed

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.

Terry Reed, pastor of Vessels of Christ Ministry in Terrytown, Louisiana, stands accused of raping and sexually molesting two teen boys.

Nola.com reports:

A pastor and registered sex offender pleaded not guilty Friday to raping and molesting two teenage boys that authorities say he preyed on through the church he operated out of his Terrytown home, according to Jefferson Parish court records. 

Terry Reed, 63, was charged Thursday with two counts of third-degree rape and four counts of molestation of a juvenile. 

Investigators allege Reed coerced the teens, telling them that sexual activity with him would provide them with the “covering of Jesus” and “help them become a man,” according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. 

The first victim, now 19, contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in June and revealed that Reed had been sexually abusing him since he was about 16, according to court records. They met through Reed’s church, Vessels of Christ Ministry, authorities said.

The alleged rapes occurred between 2020 and 2023, with other sexual interactions reported as far back 2019, according to authorities. 

A second alleged victim, a now-29-year-old man, came forward after Reed’s arrest on June 29, the Sheriff’s Office said. He, too, reported sexual abuse at Reed’s hands between 2010 and 2011, when he was about 15, according to authorities. 

Reed is accused of fondling the second victim, showering naked with the teen and other sexual activity, court records said. 

In a similar case, Reed pleaded guilty to molestation of a juvenile and indecent behavior with a juvenile in 2017, Jefferson Parish court records said. He was sentenced to five years of active probation after he admitted to inappropriately touching and sleeping naked with a 15-year-old boy. 

Reed completed his probation for that conviction in 2022 but must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, authorities said. 

The 2017 case, however, wasn’t the first time Reed faced allegations of inappropriate behavior with a minor. In 1997, he was convicted of indecent behavior with a male juvenile and was sentenced to five years of probation, Jefferson Parish court records said. 

Reed is a frequent flyer when it comes to sexual abuse allegations and convictions.

In 2014, Nola.com reported:

A Terrytown pastor convicted and later pardoned of sexually abusing a teenage boy 17 years ago has been arrested, again, on similar charges. The Rev. Terry Reed, 54, of 503 Marlin Court, was booked Saturday (Dec. 13) with indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery, according to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Reed is accused of abusing a 15-year-old boy whom he had taken in, according to the report. Reed slept naked with the teen and had inappropriate contact with him. The teen told investigators he was also forced to shower with Reed and wash the pastor, the report said.

In the initial sentence order, the judge barred him from any contact with minors, though it appears Reed later tried to appeal that portion of the sentence. Reed was also prohibited from participating in any programs with his church, including counseling.

Reed received an automatic first offender pardon in December 2002 after completing his probation, court records said.

Authorities were called to Reed’s Marlin Court home on June 30, 2002, to investigate the bizarre deaths of his adopted son, Christian Reed, 13, and a cousin, Jamichael Spencer, 12. A relative discovered the fully-clothed boys submerged in a hot tub inside the house.

The Jefferson Parish coroner’s office determined the boys died of electrocution complicated by elevated body temperatures and blunt force trauma, Chief Death Investigator Mark Bone said. A defective electrical extension cord that powered a nearby radio or television was stapled to the hot tub.

The boys’ bodies bore the signs of beatings, including older bruises and fresh welts on their arms, legs and buttocks. An 18-year-old woman who was described as their caretaker admitted whipping the boys as punishment.

Though the coroner’s office decided on a cause of death, investigators never made a determination on whether the boys’ deaths were accidental or homicides, according to Bone.

The Sheriff’s Office closed the investigation into their deaths, but continued to look into the disciplinary beatings the boys received, according to a report published by The Times-Picayune in 2002.

Reed was never a suspect in either investigation, said Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. The department did arrest an unidentified woman in the physical abuse case. It’s not clear if it was the woman who had admitted whipping the boys.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Robert Dell Accused of Operating a Theft Ring

pastor robert dell

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Robert Dell, the former pastor of The Rock Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, stands accused with his wife and others of stealing over $1.4 million worth of home improvement merchandise from Home Depot stores across Florida and reselling the goods on eBay.

The Tampa Bay Times reports:

Pinellas County pastor, his wife, and others are accused of stealing over $1.4 million worth of home improvement merchandise from Home Depot stores across Florida and reselling the goods on eBay, state officials said.

Robert Dell, 56, also “forced vulnerable people” to take part in the scheme, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced this week.

A news release from Moody’s office said Dell is a pastor at The Rock Church in St. Petersburg and the founder of a halfway house serving people recovering from drug addiction. But a note on the homepage of The Rock Church’s website says Dell hasn’t been pastor there for more than two years.

The news release names four other people as co-conspirators in the case: Jaclyn Dell, 39, who is Robert Dell’s wife; Karen Dell, 72, who is Robert Dell’s mother; Jessica Wild, 40; and Daniel Mace, 36.

Robert Dell, Jaclyn Dell, and Karen Dell were arrested on Aug. 1 after officers with the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement executed a search warrant at Robert Dell’s home on the 2600 block of 39th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. He is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and dealing in stolen property as an organizer.

Jaclyn Dell was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering and Karen Dell on a charge of dealing in stolen property.

Mace, of Tampa, was arrested Wednesday on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Wild’s booking and charge information was not available.

According to Moody’s office, the group shoplifted Milwaukee, DeWalt, and other branded products from Home Depot stores in Citrus, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties.

Mace and Wild stole a majority of the merchandise and, “on average, victimized stores five to six times a day,” the release said. The pair then delivered the products to Robert Dell, who sold them on an eBay storefront named “Anointed Liquidator,” the release said.

“According to the investigation, Dell demanded the crimes under threat of abuse and used the positions of being a pastor and founder of a halfway house to manipulate other vulnerable people to participate in the criminal scheme,” the release stated.

The release did not give the name of the halfway house.

Home Depot suspects Robert Dell operated this scheme for more than 10 years, and that the company has lost more than $5 million, the release said.

Pinellas court records show a judge sealed search warrants and other documents related to the case at the request of prosecutors who argued that making information public could compromise an ongoing investigation.

In 2019, police arrested Wild and Mace on a grand theft charge for attempting to take nearly $4,500 worth of hardware batteries from a Clearwater Home Depot, according to an arrest affidavit in that case. The pair placed the batteries inside a bin, closed the lid, and attempted to exit the store when one of them “became scared/spooked” after spotting a loss prevention officer. The two left the merchandise by the door and exited the store, the affidavit said.

The affidavit states loss prevention officers knew Wild and Mace because they were seen at a Port Charlotte Home Depot earlier, taking batteries from the location. The pair told police they thought someone was following them and so they left the merchandise in the store.

Prosecutors dropped the case less than a month later, court records show.

An eBay account with the name “annointedliquidator” that has sold tools matching the brands named in the release was created in August 2011. The account has sold more than 35,000 items, according to the website.

While The Rock Church states:

the rock church statement

Dell operated this theft ring for ten years, including the time period when he was pastor of The Rock Church. To the church I say, “Nice try, but no cigar.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Christian School Employee Todd Baldwin Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

todd baldwin

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.

Todd Baldwin, an employee for Valley Christian Schools in San Jose, California, stands accused of felony possession and distribution of child sexual material.

The Christian Post reports:

Police in California are calling on victims to come forward to assist a child pornography investigation into a San Jose Christian school system facility worker arrested for allegedly giving students money to send him explicit images and videos.   

Todd Baldwin, a 43-year-old employee at the Valley Christian Schools, was arrested last week and charged with felony possession and distribution of child sexual material.

On Aug. 16, the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force’s Child Exploit Detail was notified that a member of the facilities department at Valley Christian Schools was “in possession of explicit digital media of juveniles,” according to a public notice from the San Jose Police Department. 

Investigators identified Baldwin as the staff member who “allegedly paid students for providing the explicit images and video.” The task force arrested Baldwin the next day and served a search warrant for his campus office and San Jose residence. 

Baldwin was booked at Santa Clara County Main Jail. 

According to investigators, Valley Christian Schools immediately cooperated and assisted with the investigation. Authorities have not yet released information about where the alleged crimes took place or the ages of students involved.  

….

In a statement released to media, the school stated that it is “deeply disturbed by the actions outlined in these charges” against Baldwin and that those actions are “antithetical to our Christian faith, values, and standards.”

“Upon learning of the allegations, we fully cooperated with authorities,” the statement reads. “Additionally, we placed the individual in question on administrative leave.” 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jarod Mills Sentenced to Six Months in Jail for Attempted Sexual Contact with Minor

pastor jarod mills

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.

Jarod Mills, pastor of Clifton Flats Alliance Church in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and a part-time instructor at Butler County Community College was convicted of unlawful attempted sexual contact with a minor and sentenced to six months in jail.

In 2020, the Cranberry Eagle reported:

Ohio prosecutors recently filed a bill of particulars in the case, showing more detailed accusations against Jarod Mills, including the age and sex of the minor the undercover law enforcement officer portrayed in the sting.

Mills, a New Castle resident, faces charges of fourth-degree felony attempted unlawful conduct with a minor as well as fifth-degree felonies importuning, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and possessing criminal tools.

The prosecutors accuse Mills of soliciting a law enforcement officer posing as a 15-year-old boy, and specifically accused him of soliciting the officer for oral sex.

He was arrested Oct. 22 and a Mahoning County grand jury indicted him Dec. 17.

Other documents filed in the case indicate Mills may have come in contact with the undercover officer on Grindr, which describes itself as a “social networking and online dating application for gay, bi, trans and queer people.”

That other filing, a response to Mills’ request for discovery, indicates prosecutors have as evidence screenshots of chats on Grindr, which include pornography. Another charge, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, may relate to those screenshots, as prosecutors allege Mills sent a sexually explicit photograph to the officer posing as a 15-year-old.

In addition, on the charge of attempted unlawful sexual contact with a minor, prosecutors accuse Mills of attempting to engage in oral sex with the officer. For the final charge, of possessing criminal tools, the bill of particulars states Mills possessed a cell phone, condoms and lubrication, which prosecutors allege he intended to use in the commission of importuning and attempted unlawful sexual contact.

New Castle News later reported:

A New Castle man accused of child sex trafficking and corrupting children in Ohio has been found guilty by a jury in Mahoning County Court.

The Ohio jury’s verdict was delivered Wednesday against 35-year-old Jarod Mills of West Terrace Avenue of unlawful attempted sexual contact with a minor.

Mill was arrested in Mahoning County in May 2021 in a sex sting operation by the Operation for Child Trafficking and Sex With Children. His bond has been revoked and he’s remains in the Mahoning County jail, awaiting sentencing.

He was a pastor at the Clifton Flats Church at the time.

Mills was one of 14 people arrested in 2020 in what Ohio’s attorney general called the “largest anti-human trafficking operation in state history.”

Mills is charged with attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning or soliciting of an adolescent, possessing criminal tools and displaying matter harmful to juveniles.

….

Mills also had been a part-time instructor at Butler County Community College, which at the time of his arrest placed him on a leave of absence. He no longer is affiliated with the church or BC3.

WFMJ added:

A New Castle man caught in a statewide human trafficking sting will be spending some time in prison.

According to court employees, 36-year-old Jarod Mills was sentenced to six months in prison on one count of importuning.

The charge stems from a statewide sex sting, which led to Mills’ arrest in Mahoning County in October of 2020. Mills was one of 14 men arrested in Mahoning County during this sting.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Gabriel Geringer Sentenced to 60 Days in Jail for Misdemeanor Sexual Offense

gabriel geringer

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.

Gabriel Geringer, formerly a youth pastor at Fowler Christian Church in Fowler, Colorado, pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact in an Alford plea, meaning he entered a plea of guilty while still asserting his innocence in the case. Geringer was originally charged with sexual assault on a child, a Class 4 felony, as well as a pattern of sexual assault on a child, a Class 3 felony.

The Pueblo Chieftan reports:

After three previous jury trials went unresolved, a former youth group leader at a Fowler church pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor sexual offense.

Gabriel Geringer, 45, pleaded guilty Friday morning to unlawful sexual contact in an Alford plea, meaning he entered a plea of guilty while still asserting his innocence in the case. Geringer was originally charged with sexual assault on a child, a Class 4 felony, as well as a pattern of sexual assault on a child, a Class 3 felony.

He first stood trial in September 2021, then did so twice more in July 2022 and January 2023. The trials in 2021 and 2023 ended in hung juries, and the trial in 2022 ended in a mistrial after a witness stated in court that she was assaulted by Geringer in her youth, causing Geringer’s defense to motion for a mistrial on the basis that the statements would unfairly prejudice a jury in favor of Geringer’s accuser.

In court Friday, Geringer cited attrition, dwindling resources to continue with another trial, and the possibility of a life sentence if convicted of sexual assault on a child as reasons to accept the plea deal.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, both parties agreed that Geringer will not serve jail time and will receive probation. All felony charges against Geringer were dropped by 10th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner.

Chostner told the Chieftain there were a number of factors that played into his office’s decision to offer the plea deal.

“This was a case with three prior mistrials,” Chostner said.

“There were problems with the case in that it was not resonating with the various juries, composed of different individuals. We had to gauge the likelihood of success at yet another trial and the ability to get a conviction in this case. We’ve clearly been willing to fight on this case based on the fact that we’ve done three trials, but we have to evaluate the likelihood of success and the impact on the victim of having her prepare for yet another trial.

“In the interest of our victim, judicial efficiency and justice, I thought this was the best way to resolve the matter.”

Chostner said the person names as the victim in the case was fully consulted and agreed to the terms of the deal.

“The victim certainly wished he was convicted at trial, but we made this plea and consulted her about it,” Chostner said. “In her conversations with me, she expressed relief that she would not have to come back and testify yet again. We would never enter into such a plea without victim knowledge, and in this case, victim concurrence.”

Judge Amiel Markensen remarked that while the court does not generally accept Alford pleas in sex offense cases, the special circumstances of the case — namely that three previous trials ended without resolution and that mediation occurred between the prosecution and defense to make the plea possible — allowed him to accept the plea.

While maintaining his innocence, Geringer will still be required to register as a sex offender and submit to “evaluation for treatment, evaluation for risk, procedures required for monitoring of behavior to protect victims and potential victims, and an identification developed pursuant to statute,” according to the plea agreement.

Chostner noted that Geringer’s being required to register as a sex offender was important to both the DA’s office and the person named as the victim.

No restitution is being sought, according to the plea agreement.

Geringer was accused of initiating a sexual relationship with the then-14-year-old female in 2010 that lasted for about three years, according to the prosecution’s case. Geringer met the teen while he was a youth leader in their Fowler church.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Gary Arivett Accused of Sexually Molesting Family Members

pastor gary arivett

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.

Gary Arivett, pastor of Shiloh Apostolic Church in Henning, Illinois, stands accused of sexually molesting minor family members.

WCIA reports:

One woman is reflecting on a painful past. Now she hopes justice will be served for the Henning Pastor she says sexually abused her for years.

Last week Gary Arivett was arrested and is facing three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a family member under the age of 18. He has since been released after posting a $100,000 dollar bail.

The survivor says Arivett has been a pastor at Shiloh Apostolic Church in Henning for nearly 30 years. For her privacy, she does not want to be named, but says she and her sisters were abused for years.

“I would like him to not have access to children anymore in any capacity,” said the survivor.

She says the abuse first started for her at age 11, her younger sister was 6 years old.

“I just tried to move forward with my life and that point we hadn’t heard of anybody else having issues and so I kinda was hoping that deep down maybe he got over his sickness and maybe it was just us children, maybe it was us,” said the survivor.

But when she heard Arivett was arrested she wanted to stand in solidarity with the other survivors.

“There’s no telling how many are out there, and there is no telling how many little children in the church right now that don’t know what he is doing is wrong,” said the survivor.

That’s why Erin Morris started digging into this case.

“I was protected here as a child by all of the people that I grew up with and I want to continue to do that,” said Morris.

Morris says she heard the news about Arivett on social media and wanted to know more about the situation.

“So I made a small Facebook post and people started reaching out to me then with their stories,” said Morris.

….

“The fact that he is a pastor in a leadership position with access to as many young children with very trusting parents who aren’t aware of the monster they are allowing near there children, it needed to be public, it needs to get out there, they need to know,” said the survivor.

We did reach out to Arivett for a comment. Over the phone he said:

“First of all, the charges are unfounded. I was not forced out of the pastors position, I left on my own.”

VCF adds:

Former Shiloh Apostolic Church of Henning pastor Gary Arivett has been given a pre-trial date of September 18th, at 11 AM in Courtroom 4A of the Vermilion County Courthouse.  During his appearance on Monday (Aug 14th), Arivett waived his right to the full reading of the indictment filed against him on August 4th, and a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

Arivett faces multiple counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse with a family member, after serving for nearly three decades as pastor at the Shiloh Apostolic Church in Henning, located northwest of Route 136 and Henning Road

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Jason Shenk Steals Millions Meant for Bible Distribution and Missionary Work

jason shenk

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.

Jason Shenk stands accused of stealing over $30,000,000 meant for Bible distribution and missionary work.

WMAZ-13 reports:

A former Dublin resident is wanted on multiple federal charges for orchestrating a scheme to misdirect more than $30 million donated for a Christian ministry in China, according to a release from the US Attorney’s Office.

45-year-old Jason Gerald Shenk is charged in a newly unsealed federal indictment with four counts of Wire Fraud; three counts of International Concealment Money Laundering; 13 counts of Concealment Money Laundering; 21 counts of Money Laundering Involving Transactions Greater than $10,000; and one count of Failure to File Report of Foreign Bank Account, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

If convicted Shenk would face up to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of any property involved in or traceable to the offenses, substantial financial penalties, and a period of supervised release upon completion of any prison sentence. And he would not be eligible for parole, as it is a federal offense. 

Warrants have been issued for Shenk’s arrest. He is considered innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

“When people of faith donate money for evangelistic purposes, they reasonably expect those who solicit their donations to act as faithful stewards of those funds,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “This case alleges an egregious breach of that trust at the expense of multiple charities and individual donors.”

Shenk is alleged to have planned and executed a scheme in which he obtained more than $30 million from faith-based charities and individual donors, primarily from religious communities in Ohio and North Carolina, based on his promises that he would use the funds for producing and distributing Bibles and Christian literature in the People’s Republic of China.

The indictment alleges Shenk obtained approximately $22 million from one charitable organization and its donors, and approximately $10 million from another charity and its donors, along with other donations from individuals. The funds were directed to a variety of shell corporations.

The indictment says Shenk started the scheme in April 2010 until July 2019, and that Shenk renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2016 to avoid financial reporting requirements under federal law.

Shenk allegedly used the money for his own use for the following purposes: 

  • Payments of approximately $1 million to an online sports gambling website;
  • Purchases of equity shares of approximately $850,000 in a privately held nuclear energy company;
  • Approximately $4 million in purchases of at least 16 life insurance policies in various people’s names;
  • Purchases of diamonds, gold, and precious metals in amounts totaling approximately $1 million;
  • Purchases of domestic and foreign stocks totaling more than $188,000;
  • Payments of approximately $7 million to the company running Shenk’s family farm;
  • Purchases on at least 10 personal credit cards totaling more than $820,000
  • Purchases of $320,000 in real estate in the “Galt’s Gulch” development in Santiago, Chile.

The Daily Beast adds:

Federal authorities have launched an international manhunt for a Georgia everyman-turned-fugitive who is being sought for an alleged scheme that redirected more than $30 million from Christian charities meant to be spent on Bible distribution in China.

According to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday, 45-year-old Jason Gerald Shenk took more than $33 million in donations from charities and individuals—money that he allegedly promised to use for producing and distributing Bibles and Christian literature—and spent it on a slew of expensive personal purchases.

Shenk allegedly spent about $1 million on diamonds and precious metals, $7 million on his family farm, $320,000 on real estate in Chile, $4 million on 16 life insurance policies, $850,000 on shares of a private U.S. nuclear company, $820,000 on credit card payments and $1 million deposited in an online sports betting site—which was subsequently shut down for fraudulent activity.

He also went to great lengths to cover his tracks, the indictment claims. Shenk allegedly directed the funds to a variety of shell corporations that had bank accounts stationed around the globe to “conceal the nature of the transactions.”

He even sent completely fabricated spreadsheets—containing phony statistics about how many Bibles were distributed to different Chinese provinces—to the charities he was scamming, according to the indictment.

All the while, prosecutors say he continuously lied to international banks about who he was and how much money he and his family had. Shenk even renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2016—a move that the indictment claims was motivated solely by his desire to avoid financial reporting requirements under federal law.

Shenk’s efforts allegedly kept the elaborate scheme afloat for nearly a decade. Prosecutors say it may have started as early as April 2010, running all the way until July 2019.

Warrants have been issued for Shenk’s arrest, which will likely involve extradition given the international nature of the search.

“He could be anywhere,” Barry Paschal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia told The Daily Beast. “We think we might know where he is. We aren’t at liberty to say where we think he is, but we think we might know.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Steve Sumner Charged with Sex Crimes, Flees State of Indiana

pastor steve sumner

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.

Steve Sumner, former pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Anderson, Indiana (an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist congregation), and a former Madison County Councilman was charged in 2022 with rape and other sex crimes.

The Herald Bulletin reported at the time:

The trial of former Madison County councilman Steve Sumner has been continued until Oct. 3.

Sumner, 52, is facing a total of 13 criminal charges for alleged sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16.

If convicted Sumner is facing a possible sentence ranging from 10 to 57 years and maximum fines of up to $120,000.

The most serious charge is rape, a Level 3 felony.

Sumner is currently free after posting a $5,000 bond.

Special Judge Jeffrey Todd of Grant County granted a continuance of the trial that had been set for May 16.

The charging information for the rape charge states that between July 1, 2020 and Aug. 4, 2020, Sumner did knowingly or intentionally have sexual contact with a girl under the age of 16 when the person was compelled by force or the imminent threat of force.

Following his arrest in December, Sumner said he was innocent of the charges.

He was arrested initially on criminal charges of child solicitation and possession of child pornography, both Level 6 felonies.

Sumner was elected to the Madison County Council from District 2 in 2018 and resigned from his seat on the council in 2021.

He also served as a pastor with the Lighthouse Church in Anderson.

The probable cause also states that on multiple occasions, Sumner would open the shower curtain when the girl was taking a shower and at one point he climbed into the shower and asked the girl to wash the soap off of him.

Investigators obtained forensic information off of both Sumner’s and the girl’s cell phone. On Sumner’s cell phone investigators found numerous images and videos of a young nude female.

The girl said all but two of the photographs were of her taken in 2019 or the beginning of 2020, according to the charging information.

The girl told investigators Sumner indicated to her he looked at the images and it “turned him on.”

She also said that in August 2020 Sumner entered her bedroom, asked her to get on the bed and touched her upper thigh with a vibrator while everyone else was in the house was sleeping.

Facing an upcoming court date and trial, Sumner decided to flee the state of Indiana.

The Herald Bulletin reports:

It is believed that former Madison County Councilman Steve Sumner has fled the state of Indiana.

An informed source that didn’t want to be identified said Monday that Sumner has left Indiana after failing to appear at a court hearing last week.

The Madison County Prosecutor’s Office charged Sumner with a felony count of failing to appear.

Once he is apprehended, Madison County officials will seek to return Sumner to Indiana.

Sumner, 52, was supposed to appear Thursday in Madison Circuit Court Division and did not appear.

A warrant for his arrest was issued by Special Judge Jeffrey Todd of Grant County.

“I have no idea why my client did not show up,” Sumner’s attorney Cody Cogswell said.

Cogswell was recently appointed to represent Sumner after attorney Bob Summerfield withdrew from the case.

“That Counsel has not made contact with the Defendant since being appointed on the case and has tried every avenue to do so,” Cogswell’s motion for the continuance states.

Sumner is facing a total of 13 criminal charges for alleged sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16.

If convicted Sumner is facing a possible sentence ranging from 10 to 57 years and maximum fines of up to $120,000.

The most serious charge is a rape as a Level 3 felony.

The charging information for the rape charge states that between July, 1, 2020 and Aug. 4, 2020, Sumner did knowingly or intentionally have sexual contact with a girl under the age of 16 when the person was compelled by force or the imminent threat of force.

Following his arrest in December, Sumner said he was innocent of the charges.

Sumner was elected to the Madison County Council from District 2 in 2018 and resigned from his seat on the council in 2021.

He also served as a pastor with the Lighthouse Church in Anderson.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser