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Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Kevin Lonergan Convicted of Indecent Sexual Assault

father kevin lonergan

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, Kevin Lonergan, a priest at Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors. Longerhan later pleaded guilty was sentenced to 1-2 years in prison.

In 2021, Penn Live reported:

A Roman Catholic priest who groped a teenage girl and sent her nude photos and a video of himself wasn’t punished too harshly with a 1- to 2-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has decided.

That ruling, outlined in an opinion by Judge Megan King, comes little more than a year after Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos told Father Kevin Lonergan, “You have made families feel that church is no longer a safe place.”

King rejected Lonergan’s contention that his punishment, the maximum jail term allowable on his guilty plea to an indecent assault charge, was “manifestly excessive and unreasonable.”

Lonergan, now 32, fondled the 17-year-old girl’s buttocks in February 2018 while serving at the Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown. Before that, he sent the girl multiple inappropriate messages and nude photos of himself and a video that showed him masturbating in a shower, investigators said.

The girl told another priest about the incidents several months later and the diocese immediately suspended Lonergan from public ministry.

When he pleaded guilty in the case, Lonergan had no deal with prosecutors concerning his punishment, King noted.

Lonergan argued on appeal that the sentence Dantos imposed was far greater than probation officials recommended. He claimed as well that the county judge considered improper factors, including that he had been transferred to Saint Francis after a report that he had molested another teen girl in another county.

The Allentown diocese said Lonergan was transferred in 2016 only after a children and youth services investigation of that other allegation determined the report was unfounded. Diocese officials said they had promptly reported the earlier allegation to authorities.

In backing the prison sentence Dantos imposed, King found the county judge appropriately focused on the fact that the victim was “particularly vulnerable” because she was a parishioner at the Allentown church and he was a priest, a figure who was supposed to represent religious authority.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Robert Woodrum Accused of Raping Two Minors

pastor robert woodrum

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 Woodrum, former pastor of Oakfield Baptist Church (affiliated with the American Baptist Convention) in Corning, Ohio stands accused of raping two minor girls (one of whom is related to him).

The Perry County Tribune reports:

When the former pastor of a Perry County church was sued by his adult granddaughter for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a child, he flatly denied the charge and suggested the lawsuit was just part of an attempt to extort money from him.

Earlier this month, however, a Perry County grand jury issued an indictment against 71-year-old Robert A. Woodrum, charging him with 24 counts of first-degree felony rape involving two underage victims.

The indictment, filed Nov. 24 in Perry County Common Pleas Court, indicates that the two victims were both under the age of 13 when the alleged crimes occurred. The victims are designated in the indictment only by initials, ALK and MRF.

There are 12 charges relating to each of the two victims, and in each case the rapes are alleged to have taken place during the summer months – in June, July and August of 2002 through 2005 for ALK, and June, July and August of 2003 through 2006 for MRF.

The indictment indicates that ALK was under 10 years old throughout the period of the alleged sex assaults in that case, and that MRF was under 10 during the alleged assaults that took place prior to 2004.

In July a woman identifying herself as Woodrum’s granddaughter, but using the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” filed a lawsuit against him in Perry County Common Pleas Court. The complaint said that the plaintiff was now a Marion County resident under 30 years old. It alleged that Woodrum had engaged in sexual conduct with her from the time she was 9 until she turned 13.

The woman claimed that while she was growing up, “particularly in the summers,” she would “regularly spend the night with her maternal grandparents.” She alleged that during these visits, her grandfather engaged in sexual conduct with her, in the form of inappropriate touching, “dozens of times.” The type of activity she describes in the suit would qualify as rape under Ohio law because of the age of the alleged victim.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff’s attorneys indicated that the woman had also filed a complaint with the Perry County Sheriff’s Office about the alleged sexual assaults. At that time The Perry County Tribune contacted Perry County Prosecutor Joseph A. Flautt, who confirmed that his office been informed of the woman’s complaint, and was investigating

Woodrum, a former pastor of Oakfield Baptist Church, reportedly lived in Crooksville until June 2021, when he moved to Zanesville. In late July he answered the lawsuit and countersued the plaintiff for defamation.

In his answer and countersuit Woodrum denied “that he has ever engaged in sexual conduct with any person under the age of 13.” He accused his granddaughter of filing a frivolous lawsuit “brought merely to harass (him) and extort money.” He claimed that before the suit was filed, the law firm representing the woman had sent him successive letters, each “requesting a large confidential settlement under threat of litigation.”

Woodrum also asked the court to either dismiss the woman’s complaint, or require her to proceed under her real name. “Plaintiff should not be permitted to proceed in this action under a pseudonym,” his attorneys argued in a motion. “Permitting plaintiff to proceed anonymously in this action while forcing defendant to face the onslaught of public humiliation and scorn is unjust and inequitable.”

In October, however, Common Pleas Judge Tina M. Boyer ruled in the woman’s favor, saying that she will not dismiss her suit, and will allow her to continue to be identified in court records as Jane Doe.

Following Woodrum’s indictment, a nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest.

I pastored near Oakfield Baptist Church from 1983-1994.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor David Rowan Accused of Raping Teen Girls Commits Suicide

pastor david rowan

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.

2018

David Rowan, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, stands accused of raping two teen girls.

ABC-2 reports:

A high-profile church pastor was charged with sexually assaulting two young sisters while he was in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for a religious conference.

Florida pastor David Rowan was arrested there Tuesday. He’s was indicted on rape, unlawful sexual contact and sexual battery by an authority figure.

The arrest stemmed from an alleged incident here in Middle Tennessee back in 2014. Rowan was a guest speaker at a religious convention in Murfreesboro.

Sex crimes detectives said he convinced the parents of two girls to let him take them to lunch. The family was seeking spiritual guidance from Rowan and trusted him.

Police said he brought the 14 and 15-year-old sisters to a local hotel where he took advantage of the situation and molested them.

Rowan is a well-known pastor in Milton, Florida, not far from Pensacola.

Rowan’s church bio page states:

The atmosphere in my childhood home was semi religious, leading to my philosophy by the time of my Navy enlistment in 1973 that all paths led to God—though because of my sins, I felt I could not go to heaven

My high school sweetheart and I were married in 1975, and by 1980 deteriorating circumstances in our home motivated us to take our two baby daughters and begin attending church.

Following Bible principles, our marriage improved, and I became a better man. My pastor told me that in light of these changes, coupled with the fact that I had gone forward in a church service as a nine year old boy, I must be saved. Further Bible study and application of the truths I learned brought me so much enjoyment that I began sharing these things with others.

Finally, in the fall of 1981, I enrolled in Tennessee Temple University to pursue pastoral studies and learned more wonderful truths, the two most notable of those being who Jesus really is and His wonderful gift of salvation. (Neither as a nine year old boy nor as a 25 year old man had I known these truths, but I concluded that God knew I would learn them later in life, so He went ahead and saved me when I was nine.)

After finishing my studies at Tennessee Temple University in 1985, I began my first pastorate, still clinging to that “nine-year-old” profession (whatever that was).

(During this time, two Bible passages kept bothering me: Matthew 7:21-23 in which the Lord disclaims certain individuals performing works in His name, and Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” “What did I believe when I said I believed?” was the recurring question haunting my mind.)

Through the Scriptures, God revealed to me that I was a lost sinner. He then used them further to give me additional knowledge I desperately needed and opened my understanding to the point that I rested in the finished work of Christ for mankind’s redemption.

After 10 years of church and ministry, I was truly “born again” and have never doubted or questioned the sufficiency of the suffering of Christ Jesus on my behalf.

Like Apollos in Acts 18, my “calling” is to keep preaching that Jesus is the Christ who died and paid for the sins of the whole world.

2021

Rowan’s case eventually went to trial. While awaiting the jury’s verdict, Rowan drove to a parking garage in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and killed himself.

ABC-3 reports:

A Milton pastor who was on trial this week for multiple sex crimes against two teenage girls was found dead in a parking garage Thursday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, according to the Murfreesboro Police Department.

David Rowan, 66, appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the preliminary investigation.

Murfreesboro PD responded to the Rutherford County Justice Center Parking Garage on 223 Maple Street at around 11:43 a.m. where they found Rowan dead from a single gunshot wound.

Rowan was awaiting a jury’s verdict regarding his charges for multiple sex crimes involving two teenage girls in 2014.

Rowan was arrested by Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 16, 2018.

A report from the MPD in 2017 states that two teenage sisters were victimized in 2014. They said Rowan was the suspect involved.

Rowan was booked into Santa Rosa County Jail on Feb 16, 2018 and was held on no bond. (why was he out of jail?)

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Genesis 1-3: Who Was “God” Talking To?

creationism

The night before October 23, 4004 BC, God, you know, THE God, the one and only God of the King James Bible, decided to create the universe. For the next six literal 24 hour days, God created the sun, moon, stars, planets, earth, animals, insects, fish, and plant life. Oh, and don’t forget God’s super-duper, special creation on day six:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Wait a minute . . . what’s this US thing all about? Do I detect polytheism? Whoever US is, they created a human man and woman in their image. (Genesis 2 says it was the LORD God that created Adam and Eve) After creating Adam and Eve, the Gods closed up their creation shop and went on vacation. Next October 23rd we will celebrate the 6,026th anniversary of the first day of creation. Time for a new Hallmark card, yes?

Now I am being a bit silly here, but let me point out something very important. It is clear, based on Genesis 1:27, that there was more than one God involved in creating humans. Once we get to Genesis 3, we see that there is one God called LORD God. It is this LORD God that comes to the Garden of Eden to talk to Adam and Eve. It is this LORD God that tells Adam and Eve their punishment for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. An interesting point here is that Adam and Eve can see God and talk to him, yet the Bible says that no man has seen God at any time.

After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened and both knew, for the first time, that the other was naked. While we don’t know how long the time span was between the creation of Adam and Eve and their act of disobedience, it’s hard to imagine that neither Adam or Eve paid any attention to their partners’ nakedness. Surely they were created with a sex drive. Sooooo . . . I don’t know about you, but I think I would notice that the only other living person, the person who snuggled up to me around the Camp Eden campfire, was naked.

The LORD God, being the prude that countless Fundamentalist preachers have said he is, was quite disturbed over Adam and Eve’s nakedness. The LORD God took it upon himself to get some clothing for Adam and Eve. He spotted a bear or maybe a buffalo or mountain lion, and in the first act of violence on earth, the LORD God killed the animals so he could make Adam and Eve clothes to wear. Using a process that humans to this day have not discovered, the LORD God killed the animal(s), dried and tanned the skin, and sewed the skins into clothing quicker than a Chinese sweatshop worker sewing a shirt for Walmart.

The LORD God then had a conference call with the other Gods. He said, look, remember those two humans we created? Remember the one rule we gave them? Yeah . . . those dumb asses picked fruit off the tree and ate it. Now they are like us, knowing good and evil. We need to do something immediately lest they eat from the Tree of Life. We don’t want them to do that, right? If they do, they will live forever, just like us. Can’t have humans living forever.

So the LORD God, acting on behalf of the other Gods, evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Of course, they didn’t want to go. After all, they only had one set of clothes in their dresser. But the LORD God was insistent and he drove them out of the Garden of Eden. To make sure that Adam and Eve could not eat from the Tree of Life, the LORD God put a flaming sword that turned every which way near the tree.

Reading Genesis 1-3 without importing Trinitarian theology into it presents a very different creation story from that which countless Evangelicals have been told. Go back to the text and read it for yourself. Is what I have written here plausible? On what basis do we say there was just one God? Is it not just as plausible to say that there was more than one God, a LORD God, and other Gods that were perhaps subservient to him/her?

But Bruce, in the first five days of creation the Bible says God (singular) created. True, but since humans weren’t created until day 6, who was God talking to on the first five days when the Bible says, and God said? Was he talking to himself? Perhaps he was talking to the other Gods, just like he did in Genesis 1:26 and 3:22?

And I am just getting started. Go back to the text, take off your Trinitarian, orthodox Christian glasses, and read it again. Is my story any less plausible than the one Evangelical children are taught in Sunday school?

Notes

There is textual evidence for God creating Eve AFTER the six days of creation in the second creation story found in Genesis 2. This conflicts with the first creation story in Genesis 1.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Freedom without Jesus

jimmy carter lust quote

According to Evangelicals, we live in a world inhabited by fallen, broken, sinful people. All humans are sinners, from the moment they come forth from the womb speaking lies to when they draw their last breath. Numerous Bible verses reinforce the notion that there is something seriously wrong with every one of us. We have a disease called sin and it is killing us.

According to Evangelicals, we are helpless, hopeless, and empty. We lack purpose, direction, and meaning. Simply put, we are fucked. There is no hope for any of us. From the first man and woman to the baby born just a moment ago, all of us are wretches in bondage to our wants, needs, and desires. Sure sucks to be us, yes?

But wait, Preacher Billy Mays says. All is not lost. God sent his son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for sinners. Through his shed blood sin is expiated, and by putting faith in him we can have our sins forgiven and find purpose, meaning, and direction. And as an added bonus, at no extra charge, those who pray and ask Jesus to forgive them will be given eternal life and a home in God’s Trump Hotel after they die.

Millions and millions of people call the 1-800-salvation number only to find out that there is a catch. Yes, the salvation is free; yes, the eternal life and hotel room is free, but there is a small shipping and handling charge. How much, you ask?

Just your life. If you buy what Preacher Billy Mays is selling, the cost is your life. Every moment of every day will belong to Jesus until you die. Your life will be governed by an ancient, largely irrelevant religious text called the Bible. This text has hundreds and hundreds of laws, rules, regulations, and precepts you will be expected to obey. While technically you can still get eternal life and a Heavenly hotel room after you die even if you don’t obey, surely you don’t want the room at the back of the hotel — the room where the plumbing never seems to work and the couple next door are loudly fucking day and night.

Sold a fantastical story about sin and brokenness, and emptiness and forgiveness, and healing and fulfillment, Evangelicals give the operator their credit card numbers and order God’s Eternal Life Package® — free, just pay shipping and handling. This shipping and handling charge, as they will find out later, will be charged to their credit card every month until they die.

Evangelicals love to point out the awesome freedom they have now that they have bought God’s Eternal Life Package®. Are they really free, the non-Evangelical asks? Bound to the words of an antiquated, contradictory book, are Evangelicals really free?

According to Evangelicals, God created everything, including every human. God gave us sexual desire, the Evangelical says, but the Bible says we can only act on this desire if we are married to someone of the opposite sex (and Christians are only allowed to marry Christians). Acting on our sexual desire outside the boundaries of heterosexual marriage is sin, a sin that some verses in the Bible say will result in us forfeiting our Eternal Life Package® and room at God’s Trump Hotel. Instead, we will get Satan’s Eternal Death Package® and a room in Beelzebub’s Motel Six.

Not only does the Bible condemn any sexual behavior except married heterosexual intercourse, it also says that if we just look at a person and desire him or her sexually, we are sinning against God; so much so that God calls it “committing adultery in our heart.” Don’t touch, unless it is your spouse, and don’t look lest you burn in Hell. And Evangelicals call this freedom?

I watch five NFL games a week — Monday, Thursday, and three on Sunday. Attractively dressed cheerleaders are often part of the games. Sometimes, one or more of the cheerleaders catches my attention. I say, nice, and I hit the replay button so I can confirm my observation. Yep, nice. On to the game.

No guilt.

No fear.

No quick prayer asking forgiveness.

Like a road trip on a beautiful fall day, I was just enjoying the scenery.

Here’s the difference between the “freedom” the Evangelical thinks he has and the true freedom I have as an atheist. The Evangelical has to feel guilty over being a healthy, normal heterosexual (or bisexual or homosexual) man. He dare not hit the replay button lest he lust and commit adultery in his heart. If he does hit the replay button, he must later confess his sin to God and promise to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again. And come football season, because he is a man with a normal, healthy libido, he will once again, with one eye covered, gaze upon the cheerleaders’ comeliness or the tight end’s nice ass. And as every time before, he will claim 1 John 1:9 (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) and promise God to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again.

Me, the godless atheist? I am free to enjoy life with all its pleasures without feeling guilty over being a normal, healthy (normal and healthy being subjective terms) heterosexual man.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser