Tag Archive: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor James “Ronnie” Messer Accused of Rape

james ronnie messer

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 “Ronnie” Messer, pastor of Crossway Worship Center in Newport, Tennessee allegedly raped a church teenager. Messer, of course, says the girl consented to their sexual encounter in the church. WCYB-5 reports:

The report said the girl stated she and Messer entered the back door of the church and went to a room across from the men’s room where Messer allegedly began flirting with her and asked her to take her clothes off three or four times but she refused.

She said she felt scared and so she took her clothes off and laid on the floor where Messer reportedly had sex with her, according to the incident report.

Then, she told investigators he took her to the Hartford area to swim but the water was too muddy and swift so they left.

So, let’s see…in Pastor Messer’s delusional mind, taking sexual advantage of a church teenager is okay because she “wanted” it. Really?

Black Collar Crime: Highpoint Church Gives Chris Conlee a Standing Ovation

wtf

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.

Last week, I wrote a post titled, Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal. I detailed the fall out from Andy Savage’s admission that he sexually assaulted a church girl twenty years ago. Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee, received a standing ovation from congregants after he oh-so-humbly admitted the “sexual incident” twenty years before. Savage later resigned after public outrage over his tone-deafness and lack of true repentance and sorrow.

Yesterday, Savage’s fellow pastor Chris Conlee (who resigned last week) had an oh-so-touching parting moment with his church. Afterward, Conlee received a STANDING ovation, thus proving that the entire Highpoint congregation is deaf and blind, oblivious to how such crass behavior appears to outsiders. It’s evident that Highpoint and its leaders do not take sexual abuse seriously. Had they done so, they would have never hired Savage — the church new about the sexual abuse allegation when they hired him — and after hiring him anyway, the church should have fired Conlee for giving Savage cover. Instead, both men received ovations. Yes, both Savage and Conlee are gone, but there’s no sign from Highpoint that they understand their own culpability in this sordid story of sexual abuse and cover-up.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: Savage and Conlee will resurface somewhere, ready to shear more sheep on their road to personal fame and glory.

Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal

andy savageThe 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.

Earlier this year, Andy Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee admitted to the church that he had sexually assaulted a teen girl years ago at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Savage called the assault a “sexual incident.” Afterward, the Highpoint congregation gave Savage an ovation for being so open and honest — feel free to puke. And with that, Savage continued to work for Highpoint Church. Sin confessed, onward, upward Buzz Savage. Highpoint, by the way, knew of the sexual assault before hiring Savage. What’s a little sexual assault among friends, right?

Several weeks later, after outrage over Savage’s tone-deafness and lack of true repentance and sorrow, Savage resigned. Jules Woodson, the woman Savage sexually assaulted years ago, reported the assault to pastor Larry Cotton, then pastor of Woodlands Parkway Baptist. Cotton, as Evangelicals are wont to do, did nothing. In February, Cotton, now pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, resigned, admitting that he should have reported Savage’s misconduct to law enforcement authorities. Savage will not be prosecuted for his alleged crimes due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Today, another domino fell in the Andy Savage scandal. Chris Conlee, the lead pastor and founder of Highpoint has resigned, saying that it was time for him to pass the baton to someone else.You can read Highpoint’s board’s statement: here. Again, prepare to puke. No mention is made of the Savage scandal.  Instead, the church plans to give Conlee a grand send-off, thanking him for all he has done for Highpoint.

The Andy Savage scandal is sickening from start to finish. No one, I repeat NO ONE, acted on behalf of the victim. Instead, what we see is cover-your-ass moves and attempts to move on without honestly and fully dealing with Savage’s criminal behavior. And here’s the thing: all of these “men of God” will land somewhere on their feet, ready and willing to WOW new churches. And the beat goes on, one victim at a time.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Sunday School Teacher Jonathan Young Accused of Rape

jonathan young

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.

Jonathan Young, a Sunday school teacher at Firstborn Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — in Benson, North Carolina stands accused of raping several church girls.  WRAL-5 reports that Young has been charged with ” six charges of first-degree rape of a child, three charges of statutory rape, two charges of first-degree sexual offense and two charges of indecent liberties with a child.” The charges against Young cover alleged crimes committed between 2004 and 2014.

Several former church members allege church leaders knew about Young’s crimes and covered them up. The church denies doing so. Durwood Young, pastor of Firstborn Baptist, had this to say:

I’m heartbroken by it all because it’s unbelievable. I hate if anyone is hurt on either side but the young man is ruined now. I hate it and I don’t know what else to say about it.

What’s unbelievable is that Pastor Young’s first statement is about being concerned for the “young man” whose life has been “ruined.”  The victims aren’t even mentioned outside of Young “hating [the] hurt on either side.” What is this, a sporting event where you have two opposing teams?

Both the pastor and the perpetrator have the same last name. I was unable to ascertain if they are related.

Updated

A reader with intimate knowledge of this church and the parties involved has told me that Durwood Young is Jonathan Young’s great uncle. This reader also told me that other people in the church have, in the past, been accused of sexual improprieties. If anyone has information regarding these allegations, please contact me.

Black Collar Crime: So Many Crimes, So Little Time Issue

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.

I’m way behind in every area of my life except eating, so I thought I’d do a Black Collar Crime catch up post. One thing is for sure, Evangelical preachers don’t take a break from committing sex crimes.

Evangelical Pastor John Scheline Pleads Guilty to Attempted Second Rape of a Child

John Scheline, former director of Ignite Youth Mentoring in Richland, Washington and former pastor at  Faith Assembly in Pasco, Washington and  Bozeman Christian Center in Bozeman, Montana pleaded guilty earlier this week to attempted second degree rape of a child.

The Tri-City Herald reports:

Investigators found an advertisement Scheline had placed June 13, 2017, on Craigslist suggesting that a married dad was looking for a young boy, according to court documents.

A detective responded July 5 as a father offering up his 13-year-old son for sex acts. Scheline then discussed in explicit detail what he would do with the boy, documents said.

Scheline went to the designated apartment, but turned and left when “the (undercover) son” answered the door, documents said. He was arrested as he tried to get out of the complex.

In his plea statement, Scheline said he “took a substantial step toward having sexual intercourse” with someone between ages 12 and 14.

Sentencing is scheduled for August if a presentencing report is completed before then.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Howell said in the plea statement that he will recommend a mandatory minimum of four years and 11 months, but Scheline is free to argue for less time in prison.

You can read my original post about Scheline here.

Evangelical Pastor Brad Waller Admits to Having Disturbing Foot Fetish

Brad Waller, pastor of Grace Church of the Islands in Savannah, Georgia, stands accused of massaging the feet of adults and minor children during counseling. Several victims believe these massages were sexual in nature.

According to a statement released by the church, Waller admitted his foot fetish:

Grace Church of the Islands placed Brad Waller, then the church’s Senior Pastor, on leave when the governing Session learned of his inappropriate conduct. As Waller ultimately admitted, he abused his role as a Pastor, rubbing the feet of men and male youth in his care. The Session asked for Waller’s resignation. Waller is no longer the Pastor of Grace Church of the Islands, and he is no longer a minister in our denomination. Our congregation has been grieving. We have experienced shock, denial, pain, guilt and anger.

In Christian hope, our goal now is to heal our church. We want to better understand what happened, who was harmed, and how we can help.

Waller should have used water. Then he could have claimed he was washing feet just as Jesus did during his public ministry days.

Evangelical Church Administrator Carlyle Sparrow Receives Slap on Wrist for Inappropriate Sexual Relationship with Teen Girl

Carlyle Sparrow, administrator for Hope Community Church of the Nazarene, (formerly known as Gloryland Nazarene Church) in Carroll, Ohio, pleaded guilty to sexual battery and contributing to unruliness or delinquency of a child. Fairfield County Common Pleas Judge David Trimmer sentenced Sparrow to complete five years of community control and to register as a Tier III sex offender. According to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, Sparrow had a sexual relationship with a minor church girl. The Eagle-Gazette reports:

About a year and a half into the friendship, the victim said Sparrow expressed romantic feelings for her, even though he was married, and the abuse began. He also became her mentor for her senior project while she attended Fairfield Christian Academy, gaining more access to her and time alone.

“Throughout the abuse, he said to me, ‘If this ever stops, if I ever stop doing what I am doing to you, it is because you stop it. I am unable to control myself. I will keep doing this until you say so. This is all on you,’ she recalled. “He made me believe that it was up to me. I was the one who allowed it. He told me he, ‘was not strong enough to stop himself.’

“Who says that to a kid? He was telling me that a 50-some-year-old married man did not have enough willpower or self-control to keep himself out of a young girl’s panties.”

Linehan said Sparrow only gave four piano lessons to the victim. However, the victim alleges there were more.

In her statement, she explicitly described the abuse. She said Sparrow disrobed her in a church youth room, performed oral sex on a pastor’s desk, groped her in a church prayer room and committed other sex acts in a church parking lot and at Sparrow’s home.

Fairfield County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Reamer said Sparrow operates Sparrow Academy of Music and is not employed by Fairfield Christian Academy, but his students had performances there.

Some of the sex acts, Reamer said, were carried out at Hope Community Church of the Nazarene, formerly known as Gloryland Nazarene Church, in Greenfield Township where Sparrow worked as a church administrator. Pastor Kevin Seymour said Sparrow worked at the church for about 30 years until he resigned in 2017. The resignation was unrelated and occurred before the church was aware of any criminal allegations. Reamer said at no time was a sexual allegation reported to or ignored by church officials.

It was one of the victim’s teachers that realized something was wrong and notified authorities in fall 2016. The victim said she was thankful for her school’s involvement, including the administration acting quickly and banning Sparrow from school grounds.

At first, she said she was apprehensive to speak out against Sparrow because he had told her a story of another adult getting in trouble for having a sexual relationship with an underage individual. Knowing the severe implications of telling her story, she said she kept their relationship a secret.

I am familiar both with the church and school, having pastored a Baptist church in nearby Somerset, Ohio.

Evangelical Pastor Mike Ulmer Pleads Guilty to Sexual Battery, Assault, and Two Counts of Attempted Rape

Mike Ulmer, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Henderson,Tennessee and a volunteer teacher, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual battery, assault, and two counts of attempted rape. Bethlehem Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church.

WBBJ reports:

The former Henderson pastor and Chester County High School teaching assistant is accused of tying up and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old at his home in 2017, according to court documents.

Donahoe said Ulmer will serve one year in the Chester County jail and spend 10 years on probation. “He will report, and part of the agreement was that he would be on the sex offender registry,” Donahoe said.

According to the plea agreement, Ulmer also cannot have any contact with witnesses or the victim.

Previous news report on this case.

Evangelical Youth Pastor Courtney Biggs Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

In 2015, Evangelical youth pastor Courtney Biggs was indicted on federal child pornography charges. At the time of his alleged crimes, Biggs was employed by Mountain Church in Medford, Orgeon.

The Mail Tribune reported:

Biggs, 36, was arrested by Medford police Jan. 15 in connection with an alleged burglary three days prior at Mountain Church, 1 E. Main St., where he had been employed as an administrative and youth pastor. Police said they believe Biggs, who previously had been under investigation for inappropriate text messages he allegedly exchanged with a juvenile congregation member, was attempting to steal computer hard drives from the church.

Police later served a search warrant at Biggs’ Jacksonville home, where investigators from the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force said they recovered 28 videos from a hidden camera in the bathroom depicting women and young girls in various states of nudity. County prosecutors then added additional charges of first-degree encouraging child sex abuse, using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and private indecency.

Use of a child in a display of a sex act is a Class A felony under state law, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 70 months in prison without parole under Measure 11 guidelines. Under federal law, transporting a minor across state lines for a criminal sexual offense carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, while using a minor to produce a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct carries a minimum sentence of 15 years.

In February, Biggs pleaded guilty to one count of transporting with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor. According to persecutors, Biggs is facing a fifteen-year sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for August 20, 2018.

Evangelical Pastor Jody Hilliard Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison on Sex Crime Charges

In  January 2018, I wrote a post  that stated: Jody Hilliard, assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Duncan,Oklahoma and a high school teacher and principal, will stand trial March 21, 2018 for allegedly sexually molesting a ten-year-old girl. Hilliard later pleaded no contest to five counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under the age of twelve.

On Wednesday, Hilliard was sentenced to seven-years in prison for his crimes.

Michael Terui Sentenced to Twenty-Five Years in Prison for Manufacturing Child Pornography

Michael Terui, an Evangelical pastor’s son, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to manufacturing child pornography and was recently sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for his crimes. According to news reports, Terui used his position an outreach resource at his father’s church to troll for potential victims.

KHON-2 reports:

A Kauai man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for manufacturing child pornography.

Michael Terui, 38, was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Terui pled guilty to the offense on December 12, 2017.

According to court documents, Terui repeatedly sexually abused numerous young children, ranging in age from seven to 13 years old, over a period of more than a decade.

Fifteen minor victims have been identified. Terui acted as an outreach resource for his father’s church, which held services in the homes of members of the congregation and offered outreach programs to families that lacked a father figure in the home. Terui would often host “sleepovers” and other gatherings at his home, where he kept video games and movies, which he used to “groom” the children and gain their trust.

Terui engaged in sex acts with the children, often while they were sleeping (or pretending to sleep). Terui recorded his conduct using hidden and handheld digital video cameras. Terui also lured his victims on vacations.

….

At his sentencing, Chief Judge Seabright said that this was the “worst type of breach of trust possible.” In imposing the 25-year sentence, Chief Judge Seabright noted several aggravating factors, including that Terui had groomed the children to gain their trust; taken advantage of his position in the church in order to gain access to the children; and engaged in the egregious sexual abuse over a period of more than 10 years. Chief Judge Seabright also
highlighted that Terui had recorded the abuse of the children in order to use the recordings for his future sexual gratification. Four parents of the minor victims participated in the sentencing.

The parent of one victim told Terui that he was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and accused him of “hiding behind the ministry.”

Evangelical Children’s Church Worker John Carter Convicted of Sexual Assault

John Carter, a former children’s church worker at Harmony Hills Baptist Church in Lufkin, Texas, and an employee of several local Texas school districts and a private academy, was found guilty earlier this week of sexually assaulting a ten-year-old girl. In 2015, Carter pleaded guilty in an unrelated case to “attempting possession of child pornography and attempting an improper relationship between an educator and a student.” He received probation.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Henry Clarke Admits to Sexually Abusing Boys in the 1960s

black collar crime

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.

Retired Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor Henry Clarke found himself with some explaining to do after it was reported that sexually abused three boys in the 1960s. Clarke admitted his crimes, saying that he abused the boys, but after moving from Ireland to Canada in the 1970s, he has not abused any children.  I assume Clarke was not prosecuted for his crimes, not an uncommon outcome in the 1960s.

The Interior News reports:

Henry Clarke, who served in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church for over 30 years, admitted in interviews with BBC North Ireland and CTV Saskatoon that he had abused three young boys in the late 1960s.

Clarke claims the abuse took place in his home country, and he has not abused any children since immigrating to Canada in the late ‘70s.

He moved to Smithers in 2001 and served at the former Alliance church until 2006, when the district shut the church on Upper Viewmount Road down due to “internal disagreements.”

….

He moved to Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, where he now lives in retirement.

Documentation of a confession Clarke made to the North Irish authorities in 1985 resurfaced in 2016, and BBC North Ireland tracked him down to his Saskatchewan home in March of the following year.

“They arrived at my door without any warning and handed me a letter and… you know, I had already spoken to the [North Ireland] police in the 1980s, and was quite surprised about the way the thing was handled,” Clarke told The Interior News.

“I mean, I said yes,that I had behaved in such a way. But the [BBC North Ireland] interviewer put his own slant on the whole story. He had suggested that I’d used coming to Canada to run away from everything; that was not true at all.”

….

“I put in over 30 years as a pastor, and I believe that I’d done an honest job. It has been difficult. Certainly there have been those that have been very supportive, and there have been a number of people who have not been supportive. But I belong to a very supportive church here, and the community here has been very supportive.”

“I’m surprised that it’s well over a year now that this is coming up again, you know? I certainly am very sorry that I’ve hurt anybody, but I certainly take responsibility for my behaviour, which is over 50 years ago,” Clarke said.

“I mean, it’s one of those situations in life, if you had it to live over again you’d know better, but … that’s where I’m at, and I’m trying to live my life now the best I can.”

Only Clarke knows whether he has abused children since the initial report of abuse. At the very least, Clarke should have told the churches he pastored about his past, and he should never have been permitted to be around children. What I want to know is this: Did the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination know of Clarke’s past? If they did, I would love to hear their explanation for allowing him to pastor.

Black Collar Crime: Sex Crimes Abound at The Church of Jesus Christ in South Haven, Michigan

black collar crime

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.

Jeffrey McGehee, youth pastor for The Church of Jesus Christ is South Haven, Michigan, stands accused of sexual misconduct with a fifteen-year-old church boy.

The Chicago Times reports:

McGehee is accused of sending naked pictures and videos of himself to a then-15-year-old boy. He also is accused of soliciting nude photographs and videos of the teen, engaging in kissing and touching and offering the teen alcohol. The activity took place for approximately a year beginning in January 2017, the documents state.

Authorities said the victim told investigators “that this touching made him uncomfortable, but he just accepted it.”

The boy also told investigators he was told to keep quiet about his relationship with McGehee by Westmoreland and others, according to the charging documents. He also told investigators McGehee “used to be gay” and was away in rehab. He said McGehee set up a private Snapchat account to exchange photos and videos.

According to news reports, McGehee’s father-in-law — pastor of The Church of Jesus Christ, McGehee’s wife and father were aware of his alleged sexual misconduct with the boy. Not only were they aware of this incident, they were also aware of similar conduct when McGehee was at another church in Tennessee.

valerie clabaugh

Last week, church member Valerie Clabaugh was charged with having sex with a fifteen-year-old church boy. The Chicago Tribune reports:

A 29-year-old South Haven, Indiana, woman has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old boy in what is expected to be a growing case linked to churches in South Haven and Michigan.

Valerie Clabaugh is charged with a felony count of sexual misconduct with a minor, according to court records.

….

The boy reportedly told police he and Clabaugh had sex multiple times at her home on Capitol Road in South Haven last summer when she was 28.

The incidents came to light when the boy’s mother reported it to police and said her former husband had been dating Clabaugh until their son became involved with her, according to charging information.

….

Leaders at the churches reportedly told police they were advised of some type of relationship between Clabaugh and the boy, and responded by telling them to “knock it off” and washed their hands of the incident, according to court documents.

An investigator said the claim is contrary to text messages he read from Clabaugh’s cellphone, which said a leader at the Michigan church was attempting to persuade the boy’s mother not to go to police.

Clabaugh’s phone also contained messages from others in the church who allegedly knew about the sexual relationship and who were encouraging Clabaugh “not to speak with the police and that investigations such as this one are hard to prove,” according to charging information.

The phone also contained text messages alleging another coverup in the church of an adult sending nude photographs to an underage boy, according to charging information.

Randy Westmorland, pastor of The Church of Jesus Christ, allegedly knew about these allegations and did not report them. He now faces two misdemeanor charges for failing to report.

The underlying story in the McGehee case is the fact that The Church of Jesus Christ believes that homosexuality is a sin. This is why McGehee was sent away to get “fixed.” Evidently, the “fix” didn’t take.  The Chicago Times reports:

“Pastor Randy advised that Michael has had problems (homosexual activity, which is a sin in their religion) in the past,” document state, and that Westmoreland preaches weekly against homosexuality.

Westmoreland also told investigators he told McGehee “not to attempt to make (the victim) gay.”

The Church of Jesus Christ has no web or social media presence. I have, however, been able to discern by looking at their building and those of churches they are affiliated with, that the church believes it is the “true” church of Jesus, founded AD 33.

Black Collar Crime: Christian Counselor Daniel Staats Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

daniel staats

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.

Daniel Staats, a Christian counselor at Helping the Hurting and fill-in pastor in Dalton, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to sexually assaulting a female client. The Times Free Press reports that Statts fondled a client’s breast, exposed himself, and received oral sex during a July 2017 visit.

Numerous women have accused Staats of inappropriate behavior, but the police do not consider his behavior criminal. Creepy, yes. Criminal, no.  Staats was given a twenty year sentence, with eighteen years suspended. Staats is no longer permitted to work as a counselor.

Staats should never have been a counselor to begin with. Because Staats was a Christian counselor, neither licensure or state oversight was required. Thus, other victims have no path by which to report Staats behavior. I guess they could take their allegations to the Lord in prayer or leave their burdens at the altar. I am sure most reader will agree, church counseling ministries and counselors should be required to operate under the same laws and regulations as secular counselors. Jesus should not be grounds for exemption from government regulation.

Victims of Daniel Staat have set up a web page detailing Staat’s crimes and inappropriate behavior.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Allen Lehmann Avoids Jail Time for Sexual Assault

allen lehmann

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

Allen Lehmann, pastor of Trinity Chapel Assembly of God in Louisville, Kentucky, entered an Alford Plea on sexual assault charges. The plea agreement recommends a suspended sentence and probation. According to the Courier Journal:

A former Louisville pastor has accepted a plea deal on multiple sex offenses stemming from the abuse of three young sisters.

Prosecutors alleged Allen Lehmann, 80, abused the girls over the course of a decade when they visited his Louisville home. At the time, Lehmann worked as a pastor at Trinity Chapel Assembly of God church.

Lehmann entered an Alford plea, which allows defendants to maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors may have sufficient evidence for a jury to convict.

He will be sentenced on five of the 17 counts against him, including sexual abuse and third-degree rape and sodomy.

….

The case was originally scheduled for a jury trial Tuesday, the second attempt to try the former pastor.

Lehmann faced trial in July 2017, but on the second day of testimony, the judge declared a mistrial at the request of defense attorneys after concerns one of the sisters may have revealed inadmissible information to jurors while on the witness stand.

Willett had previously ruled that prosecutors were not allowed to introduce at trial evidence of other allegations of sexual abuse by Lehmann.

Prosecutors interrupted the witness during her testimony, fearing where she was heading, but the damage was done.

…..

Based on my understanding of news reports, Lehmann has previously faced accusations of sexual assault. If this is true, it troubles me that Lehmann will serve no jail time for his latest crimes. In Lehmann’s first trial, prosecutors wanted to admit into evidence a letter in which Lehmann admitted to abusing children all the way back to 1957! The judge for the first trial refused to permit prosecutors to use the letter. WKLY reports:

Prosecutors said a Louisville pastor once wrote a letter admitting to sexually abusing children, and now they want to use that letter in court.

Allen Lehmann faces charges of sodomy and sexual abuse. The alleged incidents took place between 1993 and 2000.

The 76-year-old Lehmann was a substitute teacher in Valparaiso, Indiana, when the charges were filed last year. He was also a minister at an Assembly of God Church in Louisville.

Lehman’s defense attorney said the letter doesn’t involve the cases in which he is charged, and that it can’t be used as evidence against him.

Prosecutors said it shows how Lehman preyed on children.

What this does do is give context to who the defendant is, and why we are here today,” Courtney Straw said. “He wrote this himself, confessed to these other crimes, and ends the letter begging for the church to let him continue to minister because, ‘Here, I confessed, I’ve absolved myself, I’ve told you just enough to try to keep my license.'”

Prosecutors said the letter, dated March 8, 2011, was handwritten by Lehmann.

The letter said “during the approximate time frame of 1970 to 1978, (he) sexually molested” the victims.

He also said “during the late winter of 1957, (he) sexually molested” another victim.
Lehmann is on trial for abuses police said occurred in the 1990s.

Lehmann’s attorney never attacks the letter’s authenticity but said his client has never been charged in any other sexual abuse case.

….

According to court records, Assembly of God officials investigated abuse allegations against Lehmann in the 1960s and 1980s. It is astounding, then, that Lehmann was permitted to remain in the ministry; permitted to continue sexually assaulting children all the way into the 2000s.

First trial story, First trial story

Black Collar Crime: Christian School Teacher Stephen Ward Tries to Seduce Minor Girl

stephen ward

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.

Stephen Ward, a gym teacher at Stetson Baptist Christian School in DeLand, Florida, was arrested Saturday on charges of using a computer to lure a child and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.  The school is a ministry of Stetson Baptist Church.  The victim is a fourteen-year-old girl.

The New York Post reports that Ward has been placed on administrative leave.

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Doug Edwards Charged With Sexual Abuse of a Minor

pastor doug edwards

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.

Doug Edwards, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ketchikan, Alaska and a recently retired home economics teacher at Ketchikan High School, was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor.  According to KRBD, Edwards allegedly sexually assaulted a fourteen-year-old church girl. According to police, Edwards has admitted his crimes.  Additionally, KDRB reports that Edwards assaulted the girl in the church basement, at his home, and at school. Edwards was an equal opportunity abuser.

Edwards was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Edwards’ church bio page states:

Born on October 30, 1958, Doug was raised in a military family and was able to live in many places including Morocco and Japan.  He graduated high school in Alabama in 1977 and moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1978.  In 1995 he received a Master of Divinity Degree from the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and has served as a senior pastor since the fall of 1988.

Doug moved to Ketchikan, Alaska in May of 1997 to be the pastor of First Baptist Church, a position in which he is still serving.  He also teaching Culinary Arts in Ketchikan High School.

Doug has been married to his wife **** since 1980 and has three ****, all who are graduates of Ketchikan High School.

Black Collar Crime: Focus Church and Pastor Garry Mitchell Shun the Victims and Embrace the Abuser

clarence willie white

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.

Garry Mitchell is the pastor of Focus Church in Lewisburg, Kentucky. In April, a grand jury indicted associate pastor and bus driver Clarence “Willie” White  on charges of sexual assault. The victims were children White picked up for church with Focus Church’s van.  Since then, three more alleged victims have come forward. You would think having six allegations leveled against a congregant would cause a church and its pastor to distance themselves from the alleged abuser, especially considering that he previously was convicted in 1980 of third-degree rape. Not Mitchell and the folks at Focus Church. They are resolutely standing behind their man.

Mitchell appeared as a character witness for White, asking that his bond be reduced from a $10,000 cash bond to a surety bond which required no outlay of cash. The judge rejected the bail reduction request.

When Logan Circuit Judge Tyler Gill asked Mitchell:

You understand exactly what the allegations are and you’re confident to put him right back into that same position and drive the bus and be associate pastor pastoring 15- and 16-year-old girls? You’re okay with that?

Mitchell replied,”Yes, we have no issue with him.”

When asked whether congregants felt safe around White, Mitchell replied:

Yes, and the women of our church. He has proven to be a Godly man or I wouldn’t be standing here saying these things and I wouldn’t be putting my reputation on the line.

When asked about White’s previous conviction on rape, Mitchell replied, “It wasn’t until I was here in court the last time and heard the brevity of the conviction 40 years ago.”

When asked about whether the victims would be allowed to return to church, Mitchell told the judge that one of the victims had tried to return to church several times, and he asked her to stay away due to the allegations she made against White.  Mitchell stated, “We asked them until things were worked out not to be involved with us.”

The News-Democrat & Leader reports:

White’s wife bailed him out of the Logan County Detention Center May 18.

Soon after the ND&L spoke with the three additional alleged victims found on Facebook, the newspaper contacted Mitchell via email to inform him of the new information and to ask if he and the church had changed their stance on White, which Mitchell detailed in court.

Mitchell released a statement to the ND&L on behalf of the church’s leadership team and also posted that statement on the Focus Church Facebook page.

Mitchell asked the ND&L to publish the statement in its entirety and “not to change it in any way that includes editing and or deletions without an agreement between (the NDL) and our church leadership first. If you agree, then you will publish this written statement separate from any other articles relating to this issue.”

The ND&L explained to White through email there were a few claims within the official statement that were not mentioned at the bond hearing and appeared to be contradictory. One included the church asking White to step down from any contact with the children and youth ministry, removing him from any leadership role he had with the church children and youth six months before the case came out to the public. This was never brought up at the hearing and questioning by the judge.

Mitchell said the church leadership team had decided they no longer wished for the statement to be printed by the ND&L and wished to listen to the scripture “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

….

Focus Church released the following statement. As you will see, their cover our ass press release contradicts what was said in court:

“Let me begin by saying we made a mistake that you would understand our intentions as a community of faith at Focus Church concerning our stand with Clarence White. We need your help to see and understand our decision to support someone accused of such a terrible thing.

“At the time Lead Pastor Garry appeared in court on behalf of Clarence White. Our ministry had already been dealing with the accusations close to six months. During that period of time, we had implemented safeguards for those who attended each week. We ask Clarence to step down from any contact with the children and youth ministry, removing him from any leadership role he had with our children and youth. After the accusations he was removed from all activities related to children and youth including if he was to be a substitute van driver with his wife.

“Our next course of action was to immediately follow up by asking parents, children and youth if there was any behavior that was a threat to their well being. The answer we got was an absolute ‘no.’ Even though we got that answer we continued to monitor the activity of our children and youth ministry.

“Our church defines itself as ‘a church without walls.’ It is not our nature to ban anyone who desires to attend our services and ministries, nor have we ever placed a banned on anyone. Our desire is to offer Jesus, His salvation, healing and deliverance. We offer an open door policy and we open our hearts to anyone who seeks Jesus and a new life in God.

“Lets make this clear, we did NOT use any money given in our church for ministries to be use to bail anyone out of jail including Clarence White. We understand the true purpose of tithes and offerings they are intended for the building the Kingdom of God.

“Since Clarence posted bail FOCUS church leadership, Clarence and his lawyer have agreed that he would not return to FOCUS church, or any activity or event until the matter of the accusations would be settled once and for all.

“Our decision as a church to support Clarence White was decided on the basis that no proven evidence had been given to justify the accusations. These accusations had not been proven at the time of Pastor Garry’s courtroom appearance. Believing everyone should be treated without judgement we stand with him until proven guilty. If he is proven guilty, then we fully expect judgement and accountability. But like anyone else we will be redemptive and offer forgiveness of God in Jesus name to any person.”

Last month, the Kentucky New Era reported:

A Logan County Grand Jury indicted Willie White, 60, on April 27 for subjecting a 16-year old to sexual contact when he allegedly placed his hand in her back pocket and touched her buttocks for sexual gratification between November and December of 2017.

The jury also indicted White during the same time period for subjecting two more victims to sexual contact. One when he allegedly touched a 15-year-old’s vagina for sexual gratification and another when he allegedly touched the buttocks of a 12-year-old for sexual gratification.

This is one of those stories that just blow me away. I hope, if and when White is convicted, that the victims sue Mitchell and Focus Church. Mitchell and his fellow church members are oblivious to what they should be doing, so perhaps losing everything will help them see the error of their ways. Of course, White could be innocent too, but I doubt it. The previous rape conviction and multiple current allegations tell me that White is a man that shouldn’t be around children — ever.

When asked about reducing White’s bail, the judge replied, “You’ve got all those people at the church, I’ll let them post that bond. Go for it. I have some serious questions about judgment here, but it’s not my judgment I’m worried about.”

Yep. And people wonder why sex abuse victims are hesitant to come forward.