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Tag: Black Collar Crime

Nanette Miles’ Civil Lawsuit Alleges IFB Preacher David Hyles Raped Her When She was a Teen

david-hyles-new-man

Nanette Miles, a former member of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, has filed a civil lawsuit against the church, Hyles-Anderson College, and David Hyles, the son of the late Jack Hyles.

NWI-Times reports:

A former Hammond resident claims in a federal lawsuit she was repeatedly raped as a young student more than four decades ago by the son of the then-pastor and president of the First Baptist Church of Hammond and Hyles-Anderson College.

Nanette Miles, who agreed to be named publicly for this article, said then-youth director David Hyles, who was son of then-Pastor Jack Hyles, called her into his office in September 1976 when she was 13. She alleges in the lawsuit she was given a drink and then blacked out.

She claims she woke up on the office floor while being raped by David Hyles.

Following the alleged attack, she was instructed to leave through the back door so she would not be seen by a secretary, the lawsuit claims. David Hyles said he would want to see her again, according the the lawsuit.

She was raped again by David Hyles in his office a week later, and he continued to rape her weekly “unless he was out of town on church business,” the lawsuit alleges. The sexual abuse allegedly continued for five years on church and college property.

“Defendants stole something innocent, sensitive and sacred from every minor they abused,” according to the lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Illinois by the Dallas, Texas, law firm of Forester Haynie.

….

The lawsuit is just the latest in a history of civil and criminal accusations of sexual abuse of underage girls by officials at the church, which was founded in 1887.

Joy Ryder, who now runs a support group for sex abuse victims, filed her own federal lawsuit earlier this year claiming David Hyles repeatedly raped her as a teenage girl in the late 1970s.

(Please see my post on Joy Ryder’s lawsuit.)

I have written numerous articles about David Hyles:

Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

David Hyles Says “My Bad, Jesus”

Is All Forgiven for David Hyles?

Disgraced IFB Preacher David Hyles Helping “Fallen” Pastors Get Back on Their Horses

The David Hyles Saga

IFB Preacher David Hyles’ Latest Sex Scandal

I have also written a number of stories about his father, Jack Hyles:

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

Sexual Abuse and the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen

The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

1991 Current Affairs Report: Jack Hyles Stole My Wife

Jack Hyles Tells Unsubmissive Woman to Kill Herself

News Stories About IFB Preachers Jack and David Hyles

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Findlay Catholic Priest Michael Zacharias Accused of Sexually Assaulting Minors

Michael Zacharias

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 Zacharias, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay Ohio, stands accused of grooming and sexually assaulting minors for years. (I attended high school in Findlay in the 1970s. Several of my friends attended St. Michael’s.)

The Toledo Blade reports:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, alleging that he groomed and sexually assaulted minors for years, beginning in Toledo.

Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said the Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, is believed to have groomed and sexually assaulted minors since the late 1990s.

The Northwest Ohio Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force took the priest into custody after he presided at a 7 a.m. Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Parish. Father Zacharias faces charges of coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion, according to court documents.

….

Agent Smith addressed the media at a morning news conference outside the priest’s residence on Greendale Avenue in Findlay, which abuts the parking lot of the parish grounds. He said the criminal complaint filed against the priest includes accounts from two victims, but his department believes there have been others.

….

“It’s imperative that those other individuals out there come forward,” he said on Tuesday. “Your contact with us will remain strictly confidential.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced that Father Zacharias was put on administrative leave effective immediately upon hearing word of his arrest. This means he cannot exercise public ministry, administer sacraments, or present himself as a priest. Administrative leave is a precautionary measure while an allegation is being investigated.

Bishop Daniel Thomas responded in a statement:

“I am profoundly shocked and grieved to learn of these charges against one of our priests,” he said. “The Church cannot and will not tolerate any such behavior and takes any sexual abuse or misconduct on the part of a cleric with the utmost seriousness. As we await the outcome of the criminal investigation, our prayers go out to anyone affected by this situation.”

The diocese indicated that these are the first allegations raised against Father Zacharias.

Father Zacharias was ordained in 2002, according to the diocese.

He is most recently the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay since 2017. The parish serves about 3,300 households, and is affiliated with St. Michael the Archangel School, which covers preschool through eighth grade.

The diocese identified his previous assignments as St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Toledo as a seminarian between 1999 and 2000; St. Peter Parish in Mansfield, Ohio as an associate pastor between 2002 and 2007; St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Van Wert as pastor between 2007 and 2011; St. Joseph and St. Ann Parishes in Fremont as pastor between 2011 and 2017; and St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay since 2017.

Investigators allege in court records that he began to groom two male victims, currently ages 32 and 26, while he was a seminarian and they were students at St. Catherine of Siena. One met Father Zacharias in the sixth grade, the other in the first grade, according to the complaint.

Each described to agents drug addictions that began in their teen years, and alleged that the priest would help fund their drug habits by paying them for oral sex. This began while they were underage and, in the case of one of the victims, continued until as recently as July.

The complaint indicates that these exchanges occurred at times in parish rectories, including Father Zacharias’ diocese-owned residence in Findlay.

The complaint also indicates that in the case of the victim with whom he was in touch as recently as July, Father Zacharias would request and at times pay for videos in which he performed sex acts on the victim and in which he confessed to grooming the victim. The complaint references multiple text messages between the victim and the priest.

….

Father Zacharias was one of several ordinands who spoke with The Blade in 2002, reflecting on their vocations amid seismic revelations of widespread clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church as reported by the Boston Globe.

Then-Deacon Zacharias said that his cohort of priests would bring with them an understanding of sexuality as a part of who they are.

“In the past I don’t want to say they denied it, but it seems as though they were told, ‘You’re going to be a priest, you’re going to be celibate,’” he told The Blade then. By contrast, he said contemporary seminarians were taught to have healthy and appropriate relationships.

Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn responded to the news in a statement on Tuesday.

“I am distraught by the news of the arrest of Father Michael Zacharias,” she said. “These allegations are not taken lightly, and the Findlay Police Department and our community at large will support the full and thorough investigation by the FBI. Such abuse of power, and perversion of sexuality is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by any organization, individual, or society.”

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Music Leader Edward Thompson Convicted of Sex Crimes

edward thompson

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.

Edward Thompson, a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Eugene, Oregon, and a former member of Eugene Faith Center, was convicted of “repeated acts of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child” that started when the victim was a toddler. Thompson was sentenced to life in prison.

KVAL-13 reports:

A jury found Edward Samuel Thompson of Eugene guilty after a week-long trial earlier this month.

The jury convicted Thompson on charges of: 4 counts of Rape in the First Degree,Sodomy in the First Degree, 5 counts of Sex Abuse in the First Degree.

Thompson was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to 125 years in prison.

Prosecutors say the charges stemmed from “repeated acts of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child.”

“The abuse began when the victim was a toddler, spanning from 2012 to 2018,” the Lane County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “The District Attorney’s Office appreciates Presiding Judge Debra Vogt’s recognition of the seriousness in this matter and reflecting that in sentencing Mr. Thompson.”

Thompson had been a leader in Eugene church communities.

“At the time of his arrest, it was reported that Thompson was a long-term member and a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Eugene and former member of Eugene Faith Center,” Eugene Police said.

In 2018, Thompson was arrested on federal child pornography charges. A FBI news release stated at the time:

FBI agents and Eugene Police officers arrested Edward Samuel Thompson, age 38, at his Eugene home on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, following the service of a federal search warrant. Agents filed a criminal complaint against Thompson, charging him with accessing, receiving, possessing, and distributing child pornography. The arrest was without incident.

At his initial appearance on Tuesday, August 21, a federal magistrate ordered Thompson held. He is currently lodged at the Springfield Municipal Jail.

Thompson is a long-time member and a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Eugene and former member of Eugene Faith Center where he still plays on a volleyball team at the church. The FBI offers this advice to concerned community members:

Parents who have a child who has come in contact with Thompson should let that child know that Thompson has been arrested for inappropriate behavior. Parents should tell that child that if Thompson did, or said, anything inappropriate to the child to let the parents know. If a child discloses an incident that did happen to him or her or that the child observed an innappropriate incident happen to someone else, the parent should not ask the child detailed questions about the incident. Instead, please contact Eugene Police Detective Chris Mackey at (541) 682-5175 or call the FBI at (541) 343-5222.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Mike Jenkins Found Guilty of Sexual Abuse

pastor mike jenkins

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.

William “Mike” Jenkins, pastor of New Season Church in Townley, Alabama, was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor (a misdemeanor) on Thursday, and sentenced to one year in jail and fined $5,000. Jenkins is also a transportation supervisor for the Jasper City Board of Education.

The Daily Mountain Eagle reports:

A transportation supervisor for the Jasper City Board of Education and pastor was found guilty Thursday of sexual abuse of a minor.

William M. Jenkins, 58, of Nauvoo, was sentenced by District Judge Henry Allred to one year in the Walker County Jail on the charge of sexual abuse in the second degree, a misdemeanor. According to a court order dated Nov. 19, Jenkins pleaded not guilty. 

In addition to jail time, Jenkins is ordered to pay $5,000 in fines.

….

Jenkins was initially arrested on Sept. 30, 2019, and charged with second-degree sexual abuse. 

A complaint, dated Sept. 26, 2019, alleges that on or about June 15 of last year, Jenkins had sexual contact with a 14-year-old female, inappropriately touching her genitals underneath her clothing. 

It is unclear where the alleged assault occurred.

In addition to working for Jasper City Schools, Jenkins is a pastor at New Season Church in Townley. 

Jasper City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson said she will be recommending to the school board that Jenkins be terminated of his position with the school system.  

Jenkins appealed his conviction, and is currently out of jail awaiting a jury trial.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Fraud Charges Against Evangelical Pastor Lent Carr, II. Dismissed

lent carr

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 October 2017, The Fayette Observer reported:

The minister of a Hoke County church is accused of writing a bad check and forging the signature on it, Raeford police said.

Lent Christopher Carr, 43, pastor of Emmaus Greater Pentecostal Assembly at 3300 Laurinburg Road, was charged Friday with felony worthless check and uttering a forged instrument with false endorsement.

In January, Carr moved into the location, established his church and took over the property, a police release said.

Carr then learned that a large sum was owed in back taxes on the property. The release did not say how much was owed to the Hoke County Tax Office. Carr began making payments to the tax office in May.

On Oct. 13, Carr wrote a check for $9,050 to the tax office. The check belonged to the previous property owner. Carr found it inside the building, which is also his residence, and signed the prior owner’s name on it, the release said.

Lent Carr, II. is the pastor of Emmaus Greater Pentecostal Assembly in Raeford, North Carolina.

In November 2017, Carr sent me the following email:

Thank you for the return email received last week regarding the piecemeal report as reported by the Raeford Police Department. As promised, below is my official statement and facts surrounding the lopsided report that my Attorneys are sure will be dismissed in the coming weeks. There’s only a few things I think is prudent as far as highlighting at this juncture per my Attorneys’ direction. they are as follows:

1. The check in question that was presented to the Hoke County Tax Office was presented at the direct instruction of my client Jannetta Jordan. She had previously given me supervisory authority over sparse tangible property of hers that was not removed or stored by her previous Power of Attorney. That included the checking account in which she stated was supported by funds to cover said taxes in which the check was presented and endorsed for. “I had no reason to believe that the funds were not supported as Ms. Jordan had affirmed to me on numerous occasions that she had rainy day monies in remote Banks here and elsewhere. Furthermore, Jordan had been for a number of years a licence Psychologist with Offices in Hoke County, Cumberland County and Wake County respectfully, along with other business ventures as was told me.”

2. Moreover, upon her own freewill and desire, Jordan employed the Services of Emmaus Corp. Legal/Domestic Briefing, Investigative, and collection, and research Service Firm of North Carolina, where Carr, is the Supervising Partner for said Service Firm. Not to mention Jordan’s employment contract for said firm to act under law, and on her behalf as her sole Property Manager for multiple properties, including the Gatlin Farm Road, and the 4160 Laurinburg Road Properties whereby the vast amount of the check funds were to cover at a tune of $6,000.00, plus, in contrast to that of what was owed following Mr. Carr’s diligent payments made to the tax office for taxes deliquent as a matter of Jordan’s failure to pay taxes for the fiscal years of 2014, 2015 and 2016. To date, Carr has personally paid out of his own funds to the Tax Office approx. over $10,000, with merely owing a small amount of $3,900.00. This is why any false allegation of his presenting a check for forgery, uttery and gainful purposes could never be supported by the Greater weight of the evidence, nor would it make sense when Carr has paid off Jordan’s tax debts to the smaller amount of $3,000.00 dollars owed.

3. Further, without having the benefit and knowledge that Carr possessed and was duly granted legal Power of Attorney to “…make deposits and withdrawals, negotiate or ENDORSE ANY CHECKS OR OTHER INSTRUMENTS with respect to any such accounts…” (See, Pg. 1, Para. 7, Durable Power of Attorney) and belonging to Jordan, a legal Durable Power of Attorney backed by the North Carolina General Statutes, the Raeford Police Department jumped the gun with its prepared, and fatally flawed charging instrument, even after being voluntarily presented the same at its precinct following the arrest of Carr. The Power of Attorney Contract was entered into on February 3, 2017, whereby Jordan did legally sign, and a Notary Public of the State of North Carolina contracting with the Wake County Jail, where Jordan is awaiting trial for Medicaid Fraud, Obtaining Property under False Pretense, Obstructing Justice amongst other charges, swore under oath before William Thomas, Notary, on the same Day of February 3, 2017, seal stamped. Now, for the Raeford Police to have been presented said power of attorney information, coupled by the Property Management Contract, at the very least, Carr should have never been charged with forgery of a check nor any other charge for that matter. Others similarly situated, who endorse, present for payment checks on a grantor’s behalf, only to later be apprised that such was not supported by funds are almost never treated arbitrarily as has been towards this Pastor of our Community, Lent Carr. If anything, the Detective, Detective P. Noce, leading this egregious reprisal campaign (as believed to be the case by Carr) on the legal side of this matter, that is however, outside of what Carr believes to be political pressure and influence, should at the very least halted the proceedings and done a more comprehensive investigation that would have shown that the Victim in this quagmire was not Jordan, but rather Carr who have over the past year taken on multiple battles for Jordan, including back taxes owed in which she never informed him about from the outset. Not only that, under circumstances as that of the check presented to the tax office in good faith on the part of Carr, even if the Detective felt pressured by other powers that be to arbitrarily charge me with a non-sequitur crime (since there is an actual power of attorney) then the charge should have been nothing more than a simple worthless check, since no set of facts can even remotely be proved of forgery, uttery, publishing, and as the charging instrument has so misled the general public to believe that Carr had somehow generated a false currency instrument as those nefarious who counterfeit.

4. As relating to the tax matter, there is a Judgment Order that has been duly and legally entered by the Clerk of Superior Court entitled “CERTIFICATE OF PAYMENT/SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT CREDITOR (PAYMENT IN FULL), filed by the Tax Office, and ratified, stamped and Sworn, specifically stating that there are no further taxes owed on the property at 3300 Laurinburg Road. Furthermore, Carr’s Deed of Transfer has likewise been filed, stamped by the Tax Office stating “This certifies that pin: 394130001005; is free of any deliquent ad valorem Tax liens charged to the Hoke County Tax Collector…” Said Deed was filed with the Register of Deeds Office on October 4, 2017. In accordance to GS105-357 Payment of Taxes, any and all prior taxes owed are now moot. The Law specifically states in pertinent part: “If the tax collector accepts a check or electronic payment in payment of taxes on realo property and issues the receipt, and the check is later returned unpaid or the electronic payment invoice is not honored by issuer, the taxing unit’s lien for taxes on the real property SHALL BE INFERIOR TO THE RIGHTS OF PURCHASERS FOR VALUE AND OF PERSONS ACQUIRING LIENS OF RECORD for value if the purchasers or lienholders acquire their rights in good faith…” GS 105-357 This among other political matters is what Is believe, in part was the motive of the gun hoe charging and arresting.

Finally, Pg. 4, Para. 6, of the Lawfully entered Durable Power of Attorney specifically states: “My Agent shall not be liable for any loss that results from a judgment error that was made in good faith…” Because Jordan instructed Carr to specifically pay back taxes on her two properties (being the one who gain the most) and the one property acquired whereby He was at the end of completing of just $3000.00, and because he had no knowledge that the check was not supported by funds, something the Tax Office should have done their dudiligence in verifying, and because at all times He acted in good faith representing the best interest of his client Jordan (Pro-Bono), her actions should have never been weighed upon Carr wrongfully seeing as Carr merely acted in accordance to NCGS Power of Attorney dictates as is granted others.

According to publicly available news stories, Carr has had previous brushes with the law. You can read one account here.

Yesterday (November 4, 2020), Carr emailed me and said that the charges against him had been dismissed. Carr sent me the following email:

Please be advised that upon my Civil Attorneys instructions, I am hereby providing you with copies of the final Dismissal had in relation to a story you authored regarding a false Check allegation against me, Lent Carr. Also attached hereto for your inspection is a News Article in which was released detailing the the egregious false charges levied against me in which you you wrote about third party wise.

Nevertheless, unlike a couple of Reporters who have already been sued for liable defamation of my character amongst other causes for civil action, I did want to exclude you from this suit as I believe you wrote your third party article for sensationalist reasons in which upon Information and belief you have against Clergy.

At any rate, I am hereby requesting that you 1) update and correct your story to reflect the truth of the matter, and secondly, that your entire falsely written story be immediately removed from your site and Google in the first instance, and any other online places that may be known or unknown to me at this time.

Failure to do so will result in enjoining you with several other News Journalist who failed to research the subject matter prior to their attempt to defame who and what I stand for.

Upon Your receipt of this email, I/We would expect you to have this matter resolved as Demanded above, or we will consider your refusal as an adversarial decision, and the appropriate actions shall ensue in accordance to North Carolina General Statutes.

While I could find no publicly available news stories that corroborate Carr’s claims, he did provide me me with PDF files that, indeed, say that the charges against him have been dismissed.

On June 24, 2020, Catharin Shepard, a staff writer for The News-Journal wrote (no public link available):

The two-and-a-half years the Rev. Dr. Lent Christopher Carr spent going to court and working with attorneys took a toll on his health and ministerial work, Carr said.

“They destroyed my life, they destroyed my reputation. No one’s come out and apologized, nothing,” he said.

Officers with the Raeford Police Department arrested Carr in October 2017 on the now-dropped charges of writing a worthless check and uttering of a forged instrument.

…..

The dismissal document filed June 1 in Hoke County Superior Court confirmed that prosecutors chose to drop the charges against Carr because he was acting as Jordan’s designated power of attorney at the time.

“Defendant was POA (power of attorney) for drawer of check, the dismissal states. Prosecutor Sean Kennally signed the dismissal May 29.

….

Now that the charges have been dropped, Carr describes the experience as “nightmarish” and said he is considering pursuing legal action.

….

“I’m just really lost for words because I really feel that that was a malicious prosecution. All of my attorneys felt the same way,” he said.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Atheist Agenda

value life

The Black Collar Crime Series — which details the criminal behavior of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other Christian leaders — draws a lot of vitriol from Evangelicals who believe there is some sort of “atheist agenda” behind these stories.

Recently, a self-righteous, indignant Evangelical took issue with my posts on Pastor Raymond Vliet (please see Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Raymond Vliet Pleads No Contest to Attempted Embezzlement). Here’s part of what he had to say:

Do you believe in truth in reporting? I would think putting your name on this article you would have some integrity. did you investigate any of this information you posted or are you just here to Bash any Pastor to push your atheism?

….

If you want the truth and you want to prove email me we will send you all you need to know the print the truth. Unless of course you’re not interested in the truth the Constitution gives you the right of free speech Integrity gives you the right of Truth in free speech.

This man suggests that I have some sort of “atheist” agenda driving my exposure of his pastor as a thief. He provided no evidence that my post was false or misleading. Instead, he accuses me of going after his pastor for nefarious reasons — as he does the sheriff and prosecutor in the case.

Let me state, once again, WHY I write the Black Collar Crime series:

The Black Collar Crime series is in its fourth year, having published almost eight hundred reports of clergy and church leader criminal misconduct. Using Google Alerts, I receive an immediate notice any time a news story about clerical malfeasance is posted on the internet. It is important that these stories receive wide circulation. Victims need to know that there are people standing with them as they bring to light that which God’s servants have done in secret.

I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s traffic and publishing these reports, I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.

Sadly, many clerics have enormous power over people. How else do we explain that alleged repeat abusers of children and sexual predators such as Lester Roloff, Jack Patterson, Bob Gray, David Hyles, and Mack Ford — to name a few — never spent a day in jail for their crimes? Mack Ford, in particular, spent decades physically and psychologically destroying teenagers, yet, thanks to his connections in the community, he was never prosecuted for his crimes. (Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for GirlsTeen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your SinWhat Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?)

Sometimes, these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not until the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is case in point. Decades of reports about abuse were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?

I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the twelve years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on one hand the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused — less than five, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct. The social and personal cost is simply too high for someone to falsely accuse a religious leader of criminal conduct.

People often believe that “men of God” would never, ever commit such crimes. One common thread in the crimes committed by Jack Schaap, Bill Wininger, Josh Duggar, David Farren, Naasón Joaquín García, and a cast of thousands, is that family and fellow Christians were absolutely CERTAIN that these men of God could/would never commit the crimes with which they were charged. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence, their supporters — with heads in the sand — refuse to believe that these servants of Jesus did the perverse things they are accused of. (Please see What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were Abused and Evangelicals Use ‘We Are All Sinners’ Argument to Justify Sexual Abuse.)

Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal and criminal behavior. I remember when the Catholic sex scandals came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know — with the recent Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) and Southern Baptist sex scandals — that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problem with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has a big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

I receive threats from people defending their religious heroes. Threats of legal action are common, even though all I am doing is republishing stories publicly reported by news agencies. A pastor featured in one of my reports contacted me and said that reporters had it all wrong. As I do with everyone who asserts they are being falsely accused, I told this preacher that he could give his version of the facts, sign his name to it, and I would gladly add it to the post. Usually, this puts an end to any further protestations. Most often, the accused want to bully me into taking down my post. In this preacher’s case, he provided me his version of events and I gladly added it to my post. After adding the information, I decided to investigate this pastor further. I found more information about his past indiscretions and crimes. I dutifully added them to the post. I have not heard anything further from the good pastor.

I am not immune from making mistakes, so if you spot a factual error in one of the stories, please let me know and I will gladly correct it. If you come across a story that you would like me to add to this series, please use the contact form to email me. Please keep in mind that I need links to actual news reports in order to add them to this series.

Today, my godless friend Brian Vanderlip — who happens to have advanced degrees in sarcasm, snark, and humor — asked me the following question:

I am interested, Mr. Gerencser, in understanding your ‘atheist agenda’, the one you are trying so hard to ‘further’ by publishing false stories about preachers. I keep hearing this ‘idea’ from Christians, how atheists want to turn the world into a moral and ethical cesspool, how they are involved in cultic practices, have sex with and eat babies and so forth.

I have not been able to verify this oft-repeated meme and wonder if you might, as a known perpetrator of atheism, reveal to me your ‘agenda’. Over time, it seems to me that non-believers simply don’t believe in God(s) but often say they are open to being provided proofs and that should these proofs stand scientific scrutiny, they are more than willing to change their position. Christians, on the other hand, firmly knowing their Saviour, actively shout protests when anybody offers them information that is not approved by their local pastor, their Christian club.

So, please, please, Mr. Gerencser, if you would be so kind, explain just what the atheist agenda is, pretty please?

Brian’s question gives me the opportunity to address the notion that atheists with public voices as writers and speakers, have some sort of “agenda.” While I can’t speak for all atheists, nor can I address the motivations of individual atheists, I can speak about my motivations, and what, if any, agenda drives my writing — particularly the Black Collar Crime Series.

Most Evangelicals, preachers included, make all sorts of false assumptions about atheism in general and atheists in particular:

  • Atheism is a religion.
  • Atheists hate God.
  • Atheists want to destroy Christianity.
  • Atheists are deliberately ignorant, refusing to see the “truth” revealed in God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word.
  • Atheists worship humans.
  • Atheists secretly desire to engage in sin, especially sexual sins.

I am sure there are more things I could add to this list. While some of these things might be true about certain atheists, I can categorically state atheism is not a religion, and most atheists don’t hate God, want to destroy Christianity, live in “denial” to the truth of God’s word, worship humans, or secretly desire to engage in sexual “sin.” All of these claims are assumptions made by Evangelicals without any credible evidence to prove their veracity. I have written about these claims several times over the years. None of them is true. Instead of engaging atheists on their own terms, fairly and honestly, Evangelicals construct a strawman, which they then gleefully burn to the ground. What Evangelical fail to understand is that what they have torched bears no resemblance to atheism and atheists. Sorry, but we are not the awful, vile, evil people you think we are. In fact, I would argue that atheists — who generally are humanists — are moral, ethical people who promote and value love, kindness, and goodness. Simply put, Evangelicals, just cuz you say it, doesn’t make it so.

Every atheist writer I know is a free agent. We don’t check in with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, or Atheist Pope Matt Dillahunty before we write on a particular subject. Some atheists don’t particularly like my writing. I have been accused of being too soft on Christianity. Atheist mythicists don’t like the fact that I believe Jesus was a real person. And atheist libertarians? Why they can be downright vicious, despising my liberal/socialist political views. The other day, we had a mother cat and four kittens eating at Gerencser Buffet for Feral Cats, Possums, and Racoons. The mother had black fur, but the kittens? Talk about genetic diversity. So it is with atheists. We are a diverse lot.

Let me conclude this post by taking a few steps back and viewing atheism as a whole. Are there some generalizations I can make about atheists? Sure.

  • Atheists want to live and let live.
  • Atheists want to live happy, prosperous lives.
  • Atheists want others to live happy, prosperous lives.
  • Atheists value science, believing the scientific method is the best way of explaining the world we live in
  • Atheists don’t hate God. How could they since they don’t believe deities exist?
  • Atheists don’t hate religion, per se. They do, however, strenuously object to what is done in the name of God/religion. If religionists keep their religions to themselves, atheists would have little to say about their practices. However, many religions aggressively proselytize, demand preferential treatment, and use the power of the state to force unbelievers to live according to the teachings of their Holy Books. In the United States, it is primarily Evangelicals who are pushing a theocratic agenda.

So, does atheist Bruce Gerencser have an agenda? Yes and no. I started blogging in 2007. My goal then and now is to tell my story; to detail my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. My target audience are those who have questions and doubts about Christianity or who have left Christianity. I am not an atheist Evangelist. I am just one man with a story to tell. If I can help someone in a small way, I have done my job.

The Black Collar Crime series was started to provide public exposure to alleged crimes committed by men of God. I often find this series hard to write. I feel as if I need to take a shower after writing a post about a predator preacher. But, if I don’t do this, I know some of these stories will not get the press they deserve. Victims deserve to be heard, and as long as I have the strength to do so, I intend to keep shining light on what’s done in darkness.

This blog is NOT my life, though some days it seems so, especially when I am not feeling well. I’ve been a writer for forty years. I write because I am passionately driven to do so. When I started blogging years ago, my goal was to provide an outlet for me to share my story. That thousands of people now read my writing is beyond my wildest expectations. Do I want more readers? Sure, who wouldn’t, right? But blog traffic has never been my goal. I am grateful for every person who reads my writing — including my Evangelical critics. But, regardless of the numbers, I plan to keep plunking the keys on my IBM Model M keyboard until my fingers drop off. If I have an agenda, it is this: to be an honest, thoughtful, engaging writer.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Robert Gilmore, Sr. Accused of Sexual Abuse

arrested

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 Gilmore, Sr., pastor of an unnamed Evangelical church in Casper, Wyoming, stands accused of repeatedly sexually abusing church girls . While the news story does not name the church Gilmore, Sr. pastors, a LinkedIn page for Robert Gilmore, Sr. says he is the bishop of New Life Tabernacle (no web presence) in Casper.

K2 Radio reports:

[Pastor] Robert Lee Gilmore Sr. often took on a father figure role for the girls — whose dads were in prison or absent for other reasons — before sexually abusing them, court documents state.

In one case, a victim took her own life after turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with the abuse in her adult life, court documents state.

Gilmore Sr. is charged with six counts of second-degree sexual assault and seven counts of indecent liberties with a minor. If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced up to 190 years behind bars.

He has not entered a plea to the charges.

According to a heavily redacted affidavit of probable cause, a man contacted Casper police in March involving Gilmore Sr. The man told police that Gilmore Sr. spoke at a funeral for a family member. As Gilmore Sr. spoke, a woman got up and left the chapel.

The woman told the man Gilmore Sr. sexually assaulted her when she was a child and Gilmore Sr. was the pastor, court documents state.

Court documents do not specify at which church Gilmore Sr. was a pastor.

A Casper police detective contacted the girl and described an incident in 2003. She told the detective that she was in Gilmore Sr.’s office preparing for her baptism into the church when Gilmore Sr. sexually assaulted her, court documents state.

Gilmore Sr. allegedly told the girl, who was 5-years-old at the time, that God had chosen her to perform those sex acts with him and that they were necessary to prepare her to be baptized and given “the holy ghost.”

According to the affidavit, a woman came forward and told investigators that she witnessed Gilmore Sr. sexually assault a friend of hers when he was in his 20s and the girl was 11.

As the girl in that instance grew older, the sexual relationship between her and Gilmore Sr. continued, court documents state.

“(Gilmore Sr.) would provide (the alleged victim) with methamphetamine and money as a way to keep her from disclosing the sexual abuse that (Gilmore Sr.) inflicted on her as a child,” the affidavit states. That alleged victim, as an adult, took her own life in 2009.

The affidavit goes on to describe an additional victim who disclosed to a friend that Gilmore Sr. sexually abused her as a child.

Charging documents detail an incident in 2018 when a woman was taking care of her parents who lived in an apartment. An alleged victim of Gilmore Sr.’s was also at the apartment helping out when Gilmore Sr. called and said he would stop by. The alleged victim panicked to the point that she jumped out a window and started running away.

According to the affidavit, yet another alleged victim came forward and described an incident that happened in the spring of 2004 or 2005. In that case, the alleged victim described being taken into the church basement after Sunday school to change into a baptismal gown. Gilmore Sr. allegedly accompanied the girl into a closet to change her clothing. He reportedly took the girl’s clothing off, including her undergarments, and molested her.

In that instance, Gilmore Sr. told the girl that the assault was God’s will and that God would be angry at her if she did not relent.

According to court documents, police spoke with a victim from 1998 who described preparing to be baptized when Gilmore Sr. brought her to his office and said it would “hurt” God if she didn’t let him sexually abuse her.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: United Methodist Pastor John Hackmann Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography

pastor john hackmann

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.

John Hackmann, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Marion, Illinois stands accused of soliciting child pornography.

KFVS-12 reports:

Reverend John S. Hackmann, Jr., 45, was charged with child pornography and intimidation.

The Williamson County sheriff said on Monday he had bonded out of the Williamson County Jail.

According to the State’s Attorney’s Office, Hackmann’s preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 19.

Court documents state Hackmann solicited a teen to get lewd photos of female friends that are her age. He’s accused of threatening to show the teen’s mother a private video of her and boyfriend.

Frank J. Beard, Bishop of the Illinois Area, The United Methodist Church, released the following statement:

Conference leadership has been notified of the arrest Thursday by Williamson County authorities of the Rev. John S. Hackmann II, 45, pastor of Marion First UMC.

In the best interest of all concerned, Rev. Hackmann has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties while an inquiry is made into the circumstances which led to the arrest.

An interim pastor will be assigned to serve Marion First during this time. It is our intention to cooperate with the criminal investigation as it unfolds.

The judgment of guilt or innocence regarding the criminal charges will come through that process. Our responsibility is to care for the welfare of the people involved and of the Church.

Please join us in prayer for Rev. Hackmann, his family, all parties involved and this congregation as we move forward guided by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.