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Category: Black Collar Crime

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

scott christner

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

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

The Goshen News reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WSBT-22 adds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Anglican Lay Pastor Mark Rivera Charged with Sex Crimes

pastor mark rivera

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

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

The Religion News Service reports:

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

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

….

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

….

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

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

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

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

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Michael O’Brien Accused of Sexually Molesting Boy

father michael o'brien

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

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

The Vail Daily reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

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

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Former IFB Principal Laverne Fox Sentenced to Prison For Sex Crimes

laverne fox

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

The Press-Enterprise reported:

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

La.com reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

UPDATED:Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Samuel Emerson Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Assault

samuel-and-madelaine-emerson

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

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

The Surrey-Now Leader reported:

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

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

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

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

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

The alleged assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017

….

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

The Kimberley Bulletin reported on October 13, 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masur is haunted by the youth she left behind.

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

Masur’s allegations took Wall by surprise.

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

….

Masur has not reported her complaint to the RCMP.

On March 15, 2018, The Free Press reported:

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

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

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

….

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

The Surrey-Now reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Leader James Dunn II Accused of Sexually Abusing Church Girl

james duran II

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.

James Dunn II, a youth leader at The River Community Church in Ventura, California, stands accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old church girl. Dunn’s father is the pastor of the church.

VC Star reports:

Ventura police arrested a local youth pastor Tuesday after investigating claims of sexual abuse involving a girl who was then 14 and attended the same church.

The accusations date back about eight years, although police said they were only recently made aware of the allegations. Prosecutors have since filed felony charges.

Authorities said they believe there may be more victims.

The Ventura Police Department launched its investigation on Nov. 11 when its special victim’s unit learned of a woman, now 21, who described sexual encounters with the suspect starting in 2013, when she was 14. The case had been referred to police by Ventura County’s Children & Family Services unit.

The case involves The River Community Church, 889 E. Santa Clara St., where the head pastor’s son, Ventura resident James Duran II, now 30, worked as a youth pastor, authorities said. The victim was a member of the church, according to police.

Duran allegedly took the teen girl to “various locations to engage in various sexual activities,” according to the department’s account. The two had a sexual relationship over a two-year period, with some of the sexual encounters taking place during River Community Church activities, authorities allege.

Police officials say the victim developed feelings for Duran and “never reported the events until recently.” Despite the delay, detectives were able to corroborate the victim’s account of her interactions, authorities said.

KTLA-5 adds:

James Edward Duran II, of Ventura, faces a count of oral copulation of a minor under the age of 16 by a person over the age of 21, and one count of oral copulation of a minor under the age of 18, according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Duran was allegedly involved in ongoing sexual activity with a minor from 2013 to 2015, when the victim was was 14 to 16 years old. He had access to the minor while working at the River Community Church, where he was involved with the youth ministry, officials said. The Ventura County Star reported Duran worked as a youth pastor at the church.

Duran was arrested by detectives with the Ventura Police Department on Dec. 8. He was released after posting a $50,000 bail bond, authorities said.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday and is scheduled to appear in court for an early disposition conference on Jan. 20.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Tyler Swaggard Accused of Exploitation of a Child

tyler swaggard

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.

Tyler Swaggard, a youth pastor at Pinelake Church in Flowood, Mississippi, stands accused of exploitation of a child.

ABC-16 reports:

A Rankin County youth minister has been arrested for child exploitation.

Tyler Swaggard, 21, was arrested and charged with two counts of felony exploitation of a child. Flowood police said multiple complaints from youth members of the church, later determined to be Pinelake, prompted the investigation between the church and police.

Pinelake released the following statement:

We are aware of the recent arrest and charges involving a former Pinelake staff member. When the allegations were first brought to our attention, we quickly reported it and began working closely with authorities to assess the situation. These charges are very serious and deeply disturbing. It is a heartbreaking betrayal of our standards, especially from someone in a position of trust. Our priority is to shepherd and care for our church family, and we will continue to work diligently to provide care and support to all those affected by this situation.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Dr. David Smock Accused of Molesting Child at IFB Boarding School

dr david smock

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.

Dr. David Smock, the physician for Agape Boarding School in Stockton, Missouri, stands accused of sodomizing and molesting a fourteen-year-old boy. Other alleged sex crimes in other states are currently being investigated. Agape Boarding school is a “ministry” of Agape Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution. Agape Baptist is pastored by James Clemensen. (Please read the school’s Parent Handbook. Be prepared to weep.)

The Kansas City Star reports:

Longtime Agape Boarding School doctor David Smock groomed the young male student he is accused of sodomizing and molesting, buying him a cellphone, taking his family on trips and throwing him birthday parties, according to court records obtained by The Star. Those details, including child sex allegations against Smock from two other states that go back decades, are outlined in a probable cause statement The Star received Monday. The affidavit describes three felonies filed by Greene County prosecutors on Thursday, the same day a judge signed an arrest warrant for the 57-year-old doctor.

Authorities confirmed to The Star that Smock was still at large Monday afternoon. “For years, David E. Smock groomed Juvenile by inviting him over to his (Smock) home located in Jerico Springs where he could play video games, use the gym and basketball court, purchasing a cell phone for him, providing gifts, money, and promised cars once he turned 16 years of age,” the affidavit says.

Smock also “took Juvenile and his family on outings to arcades, trips to places such as Silver Dollar City and Incredible Pizza and hosted birthday parties for Juvenile,” the document says.

According to the affidavit, Smock provided medical treatment — including physicals — for the students. The boy and his mother began having contact with Smock in 2013-2014, it says. Her son first met Smock during a gym night. The investigation began on Oct. 7, 2020, when Heidi Fox, an investigator with the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team, received a request from an investigator with the Missouri Department of Social Services’ Children’s Division regarding a child molestation case reported to the Cedar County Sheriff. The case involved a 14-year-old male who disclosed to the Children’s Division in 2020 “that he was touched inappropriately when he was thirteen years of age by a fifty six year old white male identified as David E. Smock,” the affidavit says.

Cedar County Sheriff James “Jimbob” McCrary did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Agape leader Bryan Clemensen also has not responded to requests for comment. Smock began spending more time with the boy to be a “father figure” to him, according to the affidavit, and then began taking him to and from school. He threw birthday parties for the boy’s 12th, 13th and 14th birthdays and eventually convinced the boy’s mother to allow her son to move into Smock’s home. The boy lived with Smock, the affidavit says, from age 13 until just before his 15th birthday. When the boy was 13 and in Smock’s care, the doctor took him from Cedar County to Springfield to help clean a rental property Smock owned, the document says. “Juvenile disclosed while at this location, he was instructed by David E. Smock to pull his own pants down, when Juvenile did not, David E. Smock instructed him to pull his pants down two additional times,” according to the affidavit. “David E. Smock touched Juvenile’s penis with his hand and held Juvenile’s penis with his hand.” Smock was charged Thursday in Greene County Circuit Court with three felonies — one count of second-degree statutory sodomy regarding a child; third-degree molestation of a child younger than 14 years of age; and enticement or attempted enticement of a child younger than 15.

….

As a physician, Smock is required by law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Smock came to Missouri from Arizona and in 2006 built an 11-bedroom mansion with an indoor pool and gymnasium in rural Cedar County between Stockton and Jerico Springs. That location at 6360 E. 1570 Road, which Smock uses as his home and business addresses, also houses Legacy Academy Adventures, a Christian boarding school for boys ages 9-15. Legacy is run by Brent Jackson, who has close ties to Smock and was an Agape staffer for 18 years, part of that time serving as its dean of students. Jackson left Agape in 2018. According to the probable cause statement obtained Monday, while interviewing people about the Missouri allegations, the state investigator said she received police reports about Smock from California and Arizona dating back to the late 1980s.

In a June 6, 2007, document from Gonzales, California, police interviewed Smock regarding a child cruelty case. At that time, Smock told authorities that he and his six children — some of them adopted — slept in the same room but he slept in his bed alone. The report also indicated there was an empty second bedroom and that an adult female and her young children were staying in a third bedroom, the probable cause affidavit says. “The adult female had ended a relationship with David E. Smock previously due to David E. Smock’s ‘controlling behaviors,’” the affidavit says. “And at the time of this report (she) was an employee at his clinic. She reported being fearful of David E. Smock and that she may lose her job, as she was informed by David E. Smock if any of his employees speak to the police, he would terminate their employment. “One of the juveniles provided information to the police regarding the sleeping arrangements of the children, specifically David E. Smock sleeping in bed with one of the juvenile boys aged fifteen years old.” At the time of the police report in 2007, Smock was a licensed physician and surgeon in California.

The Gonzales, California, Police Department also discovered four more reports about Smock. Those reports were made to other law enforcement and state agencies regarding sexually inappropriate behavior with children under 16, the affidavit says. Gonzales officers discovered that a report was made to the San Diego Police Department in 1988 regarding David E. Smock being identified as a suspect in a child molestation investigation. Details of that case were not included in the Greene County affidavit obtained Monday. In another case discovered by California authorities, the Marine Family Advocacy in Yuma, Arizona, told Gonzales police about a 1997 report that two juvenile males alleged Smock walked around the house nude in front of them during a visit to his residence in 1994-1995. The report said Smock showered with the two juvenile boys in 1996. The Gonzales officer contacted Yuma, Arizona, Child Protective Services and was informed of a report made in 1998 alleging Smock altered the use of the hot water heater and stove in a home he owned that was being occupied by his estranged wife. “The report documents David E. Smock made comments regarding selling his daughters because he only wanted to keep the juvenile son,” according to the Greene County affidavit. “The male child was interviewed and stated he sleeps in a bed with David E. Smock.”

A 1996 case out of the police department in Yuma, said that two 12-year-old boys and their mother reported Smock for “sexually inappropriate behavior.” It said Smock was their neighbor and had purchased several expensive items for the boys and provided “vitamins” for them to take. “The two juvenile boys reported to the Police Department that while spending the night at David E. Smock’s residence, he informed them they can sleep naked and offered to give one of the juvenile boys a ‘physical,’” the Greene County affidavit says. “The mother of the two juveniles reported to the police that she observes several children at David E. Smock’s residence because he has a pool.” That mother said tarps had been placed over the fence tops surrounding Smock’s back yard in Arizona. “When David E. Smock was interviewed by the Police,” the affidavit says, “he is reported to have stated he tried to tell the mother of the boys ‘that he really loved children.’”

In September 2021, five workers at Agape Boarding School were accused of assault.

KY-3 reported:

The Cedar County prosecutor filed charges against several workers of the Agape boarding school near Stockton after accusations of abuse.

In all, five faces charges. They include:

-Seth Duncan: 5 counts of third-degree assault

-Scott Dumar: 4 counts of third-degree assault

-Trent Hartman: 2 counts of third-degree assault

-Christopher McElroy: 1 count of third-degree assault

-Everett Graves: 1 count of third-degree assault

Former students accuse workers of the school of assault and other abuse. Former student Colton Schrag says he’s disheartened to see only five people charged in this investigation.

“The message should’ve been we hear you, we’re gonna try to protect you and help you get out of this situation and then we’re gonna shut it down,” Schrag says. “But the message we received was we’ll do the bare minimum to get you off our backs but we don’t actually really care about you guys.”

Operators advertise Agape as a national boarding school for at-risk or unmotivated boys. The campus is also home to Agape Baptist Church. When it comes to troubled teenage boys, Schrag says they’re often overlooked and people may not be as open to hearing their stories.

”If I was to speak out at that time like I did, ‘Hey they’re beating on us,’ it kind of just fell on deaf ears,” Schrag says. “You automatically think like what did that kid do. He’s there for a reason he’s not a good kid.”

Schrag spent three-and-a-half years at Agape. During his time there, Schrag says students endured physical, mental, and psychological abuse.

“From getting drug out of your bunk into the hallway with staff members elbowing you, hitting you, kneeing you, and slamming you onto the ground,” Schrag says. “Even also some of them withholding meals from you or putting you on a small portion so you can’t eat like the rest of the students.”

Boyd and Stephanie Householder face 100 criminal abuse charges as the owners of the Circle of Hope Ranch. Their daughter, Amanda Householder, says the couple worked at Agape before opening their school.

“My dad learned at Agape how to restrain the students, how to withhold their food, their water,” Householder says. “Basically, Agape is the blueprint for Circle of Hope.”

The Missouri Attorney General’s office identified 65 criminal counts against 22 co-defendants. Those charges included abuse of a child, failure to report child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child, tampering with a victim, and assault. However, the Cedar County prosecutor charged five defendants with multiple counts of assault.

“It’s not even a slap on the wrist for Agape,” Householder says. “It’s a slap in the face for the victims of Agape.”

The Missouri Highway Patrol says it began its investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect at the facility in late February.

According to Householder, some of the people charged were former students at Agape.

“They were just doing what they were brainwashed to do from childhood,” Householder says. “They were students and then they turned staff. It’s very angering to me that the people who forced the people to act the way they’re acting are not being charged.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Muslim Tutor Muhammad Hasan Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Two Girls

muhammad hasan

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

In 2018, Muhammad Hasan, a Muslim business owner who offered private Quran instruction, was accused of sexually abusing two female students.

The Oregonian reported at the time:

Investigators have arrested a man who’s accused of abusing two girls who were clients of his religious instruction business, Tigard police say.

Muhammad L. Hasan ran AICQ (American Islamic Center for the Holy Quran), a Tigard business that offered private Quran instruction, the city’s police department said in a news release. He was indicted last week and arrested Wednesday.

Hasan’s indictment lists six counts of first-degree sex abuse and a single count of third-degree sex abuse. He’s accused of kissing one of the girls on multiple occasions and touching another’s breast or breasts, according to the document.

In January 2019, Hasan pleaded guilty to two child sex abuse charges involving two girls who were his students. One was 17 years old, the other was 9 years old. Hasan was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

KGW-8 reported:

A man who taught children about the Quran at his private business in Tigard is going to prison for four years after pleading guilty to sex abuse charges.

Last month, Muhammad Hasan pleaded guilty to two child sex abuse charges involving two girls who were his students. One was 17 years old, the other was 9 years old.

Megan Johnson, senior deputy district attorney for Washington County, said the 17-year-old felt “shocked, confused, guilty, stuck, and frozen” during the abuse. Before the investigation, the two girls did not know about what was happening to the other. Both studied Quran memorization with Hasan for a year or two at his business, the American Islamic Center for the Holy Quran (AICQ). The abuse occurred in Hasan’s office in 2016.

Tigard police heard about the incidents involving both girls around the same time in 2017 and began investigating.

Johnson said through the course of the investigation, detectives found similar reports against Hasan in Vancouver, Washington. Detectives were met with road blocks. The situation had been handled within the community. Hasan was no longer teaching in the Vancouver Muslim community, and it seemed no one wanted to officially go on the record to make a report.

Now, investigators are worried that there could be more victims.

Johnson said this particular child sex abuse case is the most difficult one she, her office, and the Tigard Police Department have encountered. People have been hesitant to speak out about such a well-loved person.

But on Friday, Judge Theodore Sims handed down Hasan’s sentence: four years in prison. He is now a registered sex offender for life. Hasan is not allowed to have contact with any minors, with the exception of his 16-year-old daughter.

Throughout his sentencing, Hasan sat stoic with an interpreter beside him.

“This is a sad case for so, so, many reasons,” said Johnson as she began speaking in court.

“The pain [the victims] have suffered at his hands is remarkable,” she said.

The pain is from both the abuse, but also the violation of trust. Hasan was adored and trusted in the community.

“That enabled you to victimize some kids and got you into a position of trust in the community, which you violated,” said Judge Sims told Hasan.

Hasan’s lawyer, in court, asked the judge to factor in the good he has done in the community in trying to bridge the gap between Muslims and people of different faiths. Hasan briefly spoke through his interpreter.

He said he would make his best effort to be a good citizen and serve the community when he is released from jail. Hasan touched on his religious goals, that people of different faiths live in harmony.

He also requested that he serve out his time in the Washington County Jail, and if he had to go to prison, he wanted to have his own cell.

Johnson said it’s unlikely he’ll get what he wants. At no time did Hasan apologize.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser