Tag Archive: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Jerred Peacock Accused of Having Sex With Minor

jerred peacock

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.

Jerred Peacock, a youth pastor at Living Waters Church in Estero, Florida, was arrested last October on charges of sexually assaulting a minor church girl. Peacock was released on a $100,000 bond and ordered not to have any contact with the victim.  Unable to keep his dick in his pants, Peacock violated the judge’s no-contact order, and now he’s back in the slammer with his bond revoked.

The Naples Daily News reports:

A warrant affidavit from the State Attorney’s Office alleges Peacock, 34, was in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl between March 2018 and August 2018 while he was still a youth pastor at Living Waters Church in Estero.

Lee County deputies arrested Peacock on Oct. 12 and he was released the next day on a $100,000 bond. On Oct. 13, Lee Circuit Judge John Duryea issued a no-contact order, court records show.

On Jan. 28, Lee Circuit Judge Bruce Kyle denied a motion to set aside the no-contact order.

….

A hearing to revoke Peacock’s bond was held Monday at 1:30 p.m. and Peacock was arrested later that afternoon. Peacock remains in custody at the Lee County Justice Center.

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Special Victims Unit detectives interviewed the girl in August, and she at first denied any sexual relationship. In a second interview later that month, she told detectives that Peacock on several occasions had touched her genitals and made her touch his, including at his home when his wife was at work.

After Peacock’s original arrest, Wink News reported:

A former youth pastor in Lee County, who once hosted an event preaching purity to teens, has been accused of sexually assaulting a girl. The pastor led the spiritual lives of children at his church for months. He has been released from jail and faces trial this month.

….

Living Waters told WINK News in a statement, “[They are] extremely saddened and express our deepest sympathy to any and all victims of sexual misconduct. All employees at [Living Waters Church] go through an extensive background check with character references.”

Dustin Lotz, a congregation member at the church, is looking for more evidence to be made public before he makes a personal judgment call on the actions the former pastor is being accused of.

“I don’t know anything about the facts,” Lotz said. “I know lately there’s been a lot of media, a lot of sexual accusations, so it’s hard … It’s really hard just to have a knee-jerk reaction to the news.”

Lotz and his family attend the church, and he is worried about how it may impact the congregation.

“If it is true, it’s not something that would be good for the church,” Lotz said. “It’s something they would have to talk against.”

Peacock’s attorney spoke to WINK News and said the allegations against his client are not true. He is “pretty convinced [Peacock] will be absolved of any wrongdoing in the end.”

Gotta love the church member who is reserving judgment about Peacock’s arrest, not wanting to have a “knee-jerk reaction to the news.”  Worse yet, this man is more concerned about the news hurting the church than he is the damage done to the victim.  Always protect the church, right?

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Nicholas Lynch Accused of Sex Crimes

nicholas lynch

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.

Nicholas “Nick” Lynch, a research assistant and curriculum writer at Highview Baptist Church in Lousiville, Kentucky, was arrested yesterday and accused of sending sexual photos and videos to a police officer posing online as a minor. The Lexington Herald Reporter reports:

Lynch, 33, admitted he discussed sex and sent explicit photos to a minor (the undercover detective) , according to the attorney general’s office. Lynch also allegedly asked details about the “minor’s” sexual history, asked for sexual images and live-streamed videos of himself masturbating, according to court records.

Some of the communication took place while Lynch was at the church, the attorney general’s office said.

Lynch was arrested at the church and charged with engaging in the prohibited use of an electronic communications system to procure a minor or peace officer for sexual offenses.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Gregory Reese Charged With Sex Crimes

busted

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.

Gregory Reese, pastor of Mountain View Assembly of God Church (in Missouri?), was arrested last week and charged with three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one count of fourth-degree child molestation. Reese is accused of sexually molesting a minor girl.  Last year, one of the church’s youth workers, James Lindsey, pleaded guilty to statutory sodomy of a child less than 12 years old.

The West Plain Daily Quill reported at time:

A Mtn. View man charged with one count of statutory rape of a person less than 14 years old and three counts of statutory sodomy of a person less than 12 years old was sentenced to 18 years in prison after entering a plea agreement Thursday in Howell County.

James Adam Lindsey, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree statutory sodomy with a person less than 12 years old and was sentenced by 37th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Don Henry.

Lindsey was charged Jan. 5, 2017, with statutory rape and two counts of statutory sodomy. On Jan. 23, an additional charge was filed against him after discovery of an alleged second victim.

According to probable cause statements, Lindsey allegedly had sexual intercourse with a child less than 12 years old between Nov. 5, 2016, and Dec. 28, 2016, while he and his girlfriend were babysitting several children in Lindsey’s apartment. During the same time period, he is accused of having deviant sexual intercourse with the girl.

The other alleged incident, deviant sexual intercourse, took place with a boy less than 12 years old during July 2016. He reportedly told both victims the assaults were a secret between them.

Lindsey was reportedly named as a suspect in several Division of Family Services (DFS) reports of child molestation with five victims ranging in age from one to nine, most of them under the age of five. According to the reports, Lindsey is reportedly a serial pedophile who had been sexually assaulting children for six years prior to the charges. Three different reports from DFS in Dent County allege he had sexually abused four other children from 2011 to 2014.

(The church has no web presence.)

The West Plains Daily Quill later added:

A family member of one of the victims, who read about Reese’s charges in Friday’s edition, contacted the Quill to ask why it wasn’t made public that Reese was a pastor at the Assembly of God Church in Mtn. View. During the phone call, the woman also reported that Reese wasn’t the first church member to have been charged with sexual assault against a child.

The family member said she was concerned because church members had not been informed of charges against either Lindsey or Reese and she wondered if there might be other victims.

The information that Reese was a pastor at the church was released by the Associated Press after the Quill had gone to print.

The family member said Lindsey had reportedly served as a youth pastor in the church. However, after Reese was made aware of an allegation from a young girl that Lindsey had touched her inappropriately, Reese removed Lindsey from contact with children as a youth pastor.

According to the woman, Lindsey was later reinstated by Reese after his replacement didn’t work out. He and Reese were close friends, she added, and she tried to avoid any personal interaction with Reese after the case was resolved.

In an effort to avoid Reese, she said she spoke with officials with the Ava Assembly of God Church while seeking rent assistance but was directed back to Reese. She said she told church officials why she didn’t want to speak to Reese, telling them he had “covered stuff up,” and offered them information from police reports and court records about Lindsey’s case. However, she said they still directed her to Reese.

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Bishop David Moss Arrested on Sex Crime Charges

david moss

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.

David Moss, a Mormon bishop at the Mill Pond Ward in Lehi, Utah, was arrested last month in a human trafficking sting.

Fox-13 reports:

Detectives say 51-year-old David N. Moss, using the alias “Pilot”, contacted women he believed to be prostitutes on social media. Moss told the women he could manage them, which he claimed was different from being a pimp.

Officers say Moss told the women he could protect them, help them avoid police, and book their clients on their behalf. He told the women he had “run” other girls in the past.

Moss ultimately met with the two undercover officers, and during that meeting he showed them cash and said he was “not opposed to paying” for services, detectives allege. He also detailed ways to avoid police and at that point forcibly grabbed one woman’s hand and placed it on his genitals.

The document states Moss then unzipped his pants and exposed himself to the two undercover detectives.

….

Detectives wrote that Moss’ current position as a religious leader and his prior work as a vice squad cop in St. George gave them reason to worry there may be more victims out there.

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Moss was booked into jail for the Lehi incident on charges of exploiting a prostitute, patronizing a prostitute, sexual battery, and two counts of lewdness.

Moss was a former police officer. He was in charge of the vice squad for the St. George Police Department. According to Fox-13:

Capt. Mike Giles, St. George Police, said Moss previously supervised their vice squad but resigned his position in their department seven years ago. He said Moss was involved in a consensual sexual relationship that had “an on-duty component” but was not in any way related to the current allegations Moss faces.

Giles said Moss resigned after his case went to a pre-determination meeting but before any recommendation for termination was made.

 

Black Collar Crime: Canadian Politician Don MacIntyre Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

don macintyre

Don MacIntyre, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Canada, pleaded guilty to to one count of sexual interference involving a child and was sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. In a letter to the victim, MacIntyre blamed “Satan” for his actions. No, Mr. MacIntyre, YOU alone are to blame for your despicable actions. Prosecutor Julie Snowdon said of MacIntyre’s “Satan” claim, “It’s easy and convenient to deflect blame to an external force such as Satan.” Snowdon went on to say that this was yet another way MacIntyre manipulated the victim.

The CBC reports  MacIntyre told the victim that God had approved the abuse; that God said touching her was okay. He also told the girl that he had prayed about the matter. Well that’s good to know. As long as this asshole prayed about it, right?

 

 

Black Collar Crime: Not One, Not Two, Not Three, But FOUR Alleged Sexual Predators at NewSpring Church

how-newspring-handles-sexual-abuse

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.
NewSpring Church — a fourteen campus megachurch pastored by Brad Cooper, Clayton King, and Dan Lian — located in Anderson, South Carolina has a bit of problem on its hands; one that church leaders are desperately trying to explain away. (NewSpring was previously pastored by Perry Noble. Noble was fired in July 2016 due to alcohol abuse and neglecting his family. In 2017, Noble and his wife divorced.)

According to a bombshell news story by The Post and Courier, NewSpring has had FOUR alleged sexual predators in their midst over the past three years. Yet, NewSpring refuses to take responsibility for their culpability in the matter.

The Post and Courier reports:

After telling detectives in November that he had sexually assaulted young boys in the North Charleston church where he volunteered, Jacob [Jake] Hazlett made another troubling revelation: this wasn’t the first time.

As a teen in Ohio, Hazlett had been jailed for molesting a younger boy. And when he later moved to North Carolina and began volunteering in churches there, his interactions with young people drew concerns from two congregations he joined, according to a recent lawsuit.

NewSpring Church leaders insist they knew none of this when Hazlett began volunteering in the children’s ministry at their North Charleston campus last year. They expressed shock when he was accused of sexually assaulting at least 14 children during his nine months there. They said they had taken every precaution to prevent such crimes from occurring.

But this wasn’t the first time that NewSpring — a Southern Baptist megachurch with 14 campuses across South Carolina — had counted accused child predators among its ranks.

It also wasn’t the second time. Or even the third.

Since 2016, at least four men working in varying capacities for NewSpring have been accused of sexual misconduct with youngsters.

Each time NewSpring reckoned with the fallout from these allegations, the church was consistently measured in its response. Its leaders offered nearly identical explanations in every case: NewSpring vetted its staff and volunteers through an extensive screening process. The accused individuals had been removed from their posts. Evil was to blame.

Hazlett’s case, however, raises fresh questions about the church’s process for screening those who work with children and the systems it has relied on for pinpointing possible signs of abuse. Meanwhile, police and lawyers for the victims are investigating, trying to piece together how this accused molester was able to infiltrate the church and carry out his alleged crimes for so long undetected.

….

On Nov. 25, Hazlett was watching over a group of children — none older than 5 — in a portion of NewSpring’s KidSpring ministry called the Tree House. During the session, Hazlett escorted a 3-year-old boy to the restroom. During that visit, he sexually assaulted the boy, affidavits show.

The following day, the boy’s parents complained to NewSpring that Hazlett had an “inappropriate interaction” with their son, the church would later tell worshipers. Church officials decided to check their video surveillance system to see what had happened.

More than three dozen security cameras are situated in the rooms that comprise the children’s ministry, according to court filings, including at least one camera that is trained on panel doors that open to the restroom where Hazlett took the boy. Footage from that camera showed Hazlett looking around to make sure no one was watching before he sexually assaulted the boy, according to an arrest affidavit.

Church leaders reviewed footage from the cameras dating back three months — as far back as their surveillance system has storage. After observing what NewSpring staff described as “inappropriate conduct by Hazlett,” the church reported their findings to law enforcement, according to a letter the church sent to worshipers.

When Hazlett sat down with North Charleston detectives on Nov. 27, he told an investigator that he photographed and filmed many of the assaults.

Multiple attorneys and law enforcement officials who have reviewed footage of the acts characterized Hazlett as “impulsive.” There were times, they said, where multiple children were pursued and assaulted in one day — some more than once.

Feeds from the security cameras are supposed to be monitored in real time by volunteers who are on the North Charleston campus, said Josh Slavin, a Charleston attorney representing several of the victims’ families in a civil suit. That suit states that volunteers “either failed to monitor the live feeds or ignored the abuse that played out on the screens.”

….

In April 2016, 20-year-old Leo La Salle Comissions admitted to investigators that he had fondled and kissed a 15-year-old boy “in a dark room” at NewSpring’s Florence campus, according to a Florence Police Department incident report and affidavit obtained by The Post and Courier. He was initially charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor but later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assault and was sentenced to three years of probation.

A month after that incident, 23-year-old volunteer Chaz McKinsey Wood admitted to molesting a 10-year-old boy who he met through his duties at the NewSpring campus in Anderson County, according to reports from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Wood was charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor and committing a lewd act on a minor. He later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assault and received a 10-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. He also was required to register as a sex offender.

Another NewSpring Church associate, Caleb Lide Jordan, was ousted after he was charged with soliciting sex with a minor in February 2018. Jordan, who was a full-time employee at the North Charleston campus from August 2011 to September 2015, served as a church volunteer after stepping down from his paid position, a church spokesperson said.

Please take the time to read the entire story at The Post and Courier website.

Black Collar Crime: Was Pastor Robbie Conn Found Not Guilty on Fraud Charges?

busted

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 July 2017, I wrote a post detailing alleged social security fraud  by William “Robbie” Conn, pastor of Jeffersonville Assembly of God in Jeffersonville, Kentucky, and his wife Tonya.

Lex-18 reported at the time:

A federal grand jury indicted a Montgomery County pastor and his wife. Both are accused of committing fraud involving the Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare programs.

The indictments for William “Robbie” Conn and his wife Tonya came down earlier this month in United States District Court for the the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington.

They allege Conn and his wife defrauded the government programs of more than $100,000 over six years.

The court documents said William Conn, a longtime pastor at Jeffersonville Assembly of God, learned he had a heart problem that required surgery in May 2009.

According to the indictment, Conn applied for Social Security Disability, and it was granted.

The indictment alleges the church board then agreed to pay William Conn’s salary to his wife Tonya. In doing so, “William ‘Robbie’ Conn could receive social security benefits, while still receiving a salary from Jeffersonville Assembly of God,” the indictment states.

It goes on to allege Conn continued to receive benefits while working until 2015.

Conn and his wife both face seven counts each with a possible five years of prison time or more for each count.

We reached out to Conn and his wife several different times but never heard back.

Churchgoers said off-camera that they were shocked by the allegations. One said Conn called the accusations “not true” at a service Wednesday night.

Late last year, a commenter said the charges against the Conn’s had been dropped. I asked her for evidence of this, but she never responded. In December 2018,someone sent me evidence that clearly refutes what the aforementioned commenter said. In September 2018, Robbie Conn signed a plea agreement, admitting his guilt. As part of the plea agreement, the charges against his wife were dropped. You can read the plea agreement here.

On September 28, 2018, the Mt. Sterling Herald reported:

William “Robbie” Conn, pastor at Jeffersonville Assembly of God Church, pleaded guilty last week to a federal charge against him.

Robbie Conn and his wife, Tanya D. Conn, were charged in a seven-count indictment in July 2017 with defrauding the government of more than $100,000 over six years.

At a pretrial conference Sept. 19, Robbie Conn agreed to be rearraigned and pleaded guilty to one count, according to court documents. He also waived the right to appeal the guilty plea and conviction and except for claims of ineffective counsel, he waived the right to attack collaterally the guilty plea, conviction and sentence, those documents show.

Sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court before Chief District Judge Karen K. Caldwell.

Robbie Conn was allowed to remain free on bond until sentencing.

He faces a potential sentence of not more than five years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000 and a term of supervised release of not more than three years.

The charges against Tanya Conn are to be dismissed.

As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, Robbie Conn admitted that he made a false document and in that document contained a statement that was false, according to court documents.

In the plea agreement, Robbie Conn confesses that he acted “knowingly and willfully” and that the document pertained to a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the U.S. government, namely the Social Security Administration and Medicare, court documents show.

As part of the plea agreement, Robbie Conn admitted to a set of facts set out by prosecutors, according to court documents. They include:

  • That Robbie Conn was a pastor at the Jeffersonville Assembly of God from a period of at least 2009 through the date of the indictment.
  • In May 2009, Robbie Conn applied for disability benefits related to a heart condition.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) approved Conn’s application and paid him monthly benefits for himself and his three children from then until the date of the indictment.

Two primary factors for SSA disability benefit eligibility are a disabling condition and inability to work as a result.

  • In February of 2010, Robbie Conn received a heart transplant. He returned to the Jeffersonville Assembly of God as early as May 2010. Part of his return included performance of funeral and other miscellaneous, religiously affiliated services for which he was compensated, but never informed SSA of his change in status, that is, his ability to return to work.
  • On Aug. 14, 2015, Robbie Conn visited the SSA office in Lexington. He completed a SSA Statement of Claimant or Other Person Form (Form SSA-795), wherein he falsely stated that he does not work or do anything that could be perceived as work such as volunteer. He signed this document under penalties of perjury.
  • At the time he signed this document, Robbie Conn knew he had been regularly preaching at the Jeffersonville Assembly of God, as well as at other religious-based gatherings, since at least May of 2010.
  • As a result of Robbie Conn’s conduct, he and his children received $111,382 from the SSA, to which they were not entitled. Conn also received $26,808.87 in medical services funded by Medicaid, the funding for which he was not entitled.

Tanya Conn was reportedly receiving her husband’s salary during this period.

As part of the plea, Robbie Conn agreed to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office by making a full and complete financial disclosure, including a statement or affidavit identifying all assets in which he has any interest.

As you can see, neither Pastor Conn or his wife were found innocent. Robbie Conn admitted he was guilty, and as part of his plea agreement the charges against his wife were dropped.

This story is a good example of why I asked for evidence to the contrary when people claim a posted story is wrong. Just because a church member, family member or supporter says a Black Collar criminal is innocent doesn’t make it so. Sadly, people have been known to lie just to protect the “good” name of their pastors or other church leaders. What matters is facts.

Robbie Conn’e sentencing has been postponed.

Robbie Conn was sentenced to six months home detention. Astoundingly, Conn still thinks his arrest and conviction was all a big misunderstanding; that he didn’t intentionally lie to government officials.  The Mt. Sterling Advocate reports:

In a previous letter to the judge Robbie Conn wrote that “my continuing treatment is very costly. I have so many bills that I am doing my very best to pay on. It was never my intent to do any wrong or to defraud anyone in any way. Me and my wife have always worked very hard, paid our taxes and have always tried to be honest and respectable citizens. I had no choice but to do what I needed to do in order to live.”

Conn’s attorney, James Lowry IV of Lexington, told the judge that his client did not intentionally lie. He said Conn simply shifted the administrative work of the church to his wife, Tanya, after his heart transplant while he continued to preach.

….

Prosecutors claimed Robbie Conn lied to the government by saying he was not working while he continued preaching after his heart transplant, collected benefits and his wife collected his pay.

Conn reportedly stated in federal documents he was unable to work. During this time he served as pastor at Jeffersonville Assembly, where he still remains, according to prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Anderson asked the judge to balance the need for punishment against the defendant’s health. She encouraged the judge to establish some sort of deterrent to others who might consider breaking the law.

This “was a much more complex deception than giving a bit of misinformation,” she claimed.

 

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Youth Pastor Rodney Harmon Convicted of Sex Abuse Crimes

rodney harmon jr

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.

Rodney Harmon, Jr., the former youth pastor at Bayside Community Church in Pocomoke City, Maryland, was convicted last week on three counts of sexually abusing a minor. In January, ABC-47 reported:

According to charging documents obtained by 47 ABC Harmon allegedly preyed on at least 7 teenage boys from January of 2018 to July of 2018 through his work as a youth group leader for Bayside Community Church in Pocomoke City.

With at least three victims Harmon promised the teenage boys they could make money for shooting videos of themselves masturbating if they sent them to him. However, none of the victims ever received payment.

One of the victims, only identified as Juvenile 2, seemed to be the most involved with Harmon. According to charging documents Hardmon sodomized him with an adult toy at least once and performed oral sex on the 15-year-old several times at Harmon’s House in the car to and from a mission trip and at a house the 15-year-old was dog sitting at.

A November 2018 news story at Lancaster Online reported:

Rodney O. Harmon Jr., 33, of Stockton, Maryland, was youth director for Bayside Community Church in Pocomoke City, Maryland, when he accompanied a church group to the Colerain Township retreat center, where the alleged abuse happened, the Lancaster County District Attorney said.

The alleged victims, ages 14 and 15, were part of the Maryland church group that attended the retreat between Aug. 1 and 4.

State police filed 12 charged against Harmon, eight of which are felonies, including statutory sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Harmon is awaiting arraignment on the charges.

Harmon is already in prison at the Worcester County Jail awaiting a hearing on charges there for making and distributing pornographic videos, and other sex acts involving four people, including three minors, according to charging documents.

Harmon has not yet been sentenced, but could face up to 70 years in prison.

Bayside Community Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Charging documents posted here.

Why Southern Baptist and IFB Churches Will Never Fix Their Sex Abuse Problem

jd greear

J.D. Greear, current president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) said:

Having an SBC database places pastors in an investigative role that we do not have the expertise or objectivity to fill. Managing the database alone poses significant problems. In fact, pushing for any kind of ‘internal investigation’ from a church level has proven to be one of the main problems in cases of abuse within the church.

We best protect by leaving investigation to people qualified to fulfill that role. The most effective thing we can do right now is educate pastors about the problem and the resources to deal with it and hold them accountable for doing so. [Since this quote, Greear has been calling for training videos, but still no database.]

And therein lies the reason Southern Baptist, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB), and other “independent” denominations/churches will NEVER fix their sex abuse problem. Greear SHOULD be calling for the immediate establishment of database that lists every pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, youth pastor, choir director, children’s church pastor, evangelist, and congregant who has been accused of, arrested for, convicted of, or imprisoned for a sex crime, using their position of authority to sexually manipulate a woman, or any other crime that makes them unfit to be a church leader (or a Christian, for that matter). Instead, he hides behind the notion that pastors/churches are unqualified to “investigate” such claims. And I agree. All allegations of sexual misconduct or criminal behavior should be immediately reported to law enforcement, and not to the pastor or other church leaders. This does not, however, negate the necessity of having a database. If someone has been accused of a crime, his or her name should go in the database — especially if he or she is accused of a sex crime. Then, if the accused decides to move on to a new church, at the very least the new congregation will know that person has been accused of criminal behavior. Leave it to the prospective new church to investigate past allegations — you know, by talking to leaders in the former church, law enforcement, doing a comprehensive background check and, the simplest of all things to do, DO A DAMN GOOGLE SEARCH ON THE PERSON! One the reasons I maintain the Black Collar Crimes series is to create a database of sorts of religious leaders who have been accused or found guilty of sex crimes, theft, and even murder. By publicizing these stories, I hope to keep cockroaches from scurrying away in the dark of night to new digs; that is if church leaders bother to search the internet.

Just because someone isn’t prosecuted doesn’t mean he or she is innocent. I can point to numerous preachers who were accused for decades of criminal behavior and even investigated by law enforcement, yet they escaped prosecution. What a database does is show conscientious church leaders that there may be a problem with this or that prospective pastor; that where there is smoke, there may be fire.

I realize that IFB churches and autonomous Evangelical churches might find it harder to have such a database. However, those churches are able to cooperate on all sorts of other issues, so appealing to their independent ecclesiology doesn’t fly with me. To preachers and church leaders I says this: doing nothing, and then blaming it on your theology, is an abdication of your responsibility to love, care, and protect your flock; especially the least of these — children. You owe it to your congregations to make sure there aren’t pedophiles, perverts, child molesters, and rapists in your midst. And you owe it to other churches to warn them when these same people move on to new hunting grounds.

The right path forward is clear, but I seriously doubt that SBC, IFB, and other Alphabet Denominations® will do much of anything to cleanse their temples of criminals. There are souls to save, empires to build, and ministries to protect, so there’s no time for “suffering the little children.” (Matthew 19:14)

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Lorenzo Washington Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teenager

pastor lorenzo washington

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.

Lorenzo Washington, pastor of Mt. Hill Missionary Baptist Church (also known as Mt. Hill Fellowship Community Church) in Aiken, South Carolina (and formerly the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Grambling and St John’s Baptist Church in Newberry), stands accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl at a public school sporting event.

GoUpstate.com reports:

A pastor who has served several churches in South Carolina, including one in Spartanburg County, has been accused of sexually assaulting a Dorman High School student at an athletic event on the school’s campus.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office arrested Lorenzo Renard Washington, 48, of Lexington, and charged him with third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and second-degree attempted sexual assault with a minor.

On Jan. 22, a Dorman student told school officials that a member of the booster club sexually assaulted her in a concession stand on campus, according to a statement from Lt. Kevin Bobo. The alleged attack occurred at a sporting event after normal school hours.

In an incident report, a Sheriff’s Office investigator wrote that Washington inappropriately touched the victim over her clothes and that he kissed her on her neck and mouth.

The school contacted law enforcement, and Washington was placed on trespass notice from all school events while the investigation was conducted, Bobo stated.

On Monday, a Sheriff’s Office investigator approached Washington, who denied the allegations, Bobo stated. Washington then canceled an appointment for a second interview.

Washington’s church bio page says:

Rev. Lorenzo R. Washington is the Senior Pastor of the Mt. Hill Missionary Baptist Church located in Montmorenci, SC. He is a proud native of Strawberry, SC and now resides in Lexington, SC with his beautiful wife the former, Jennifer L Jefferson of Beech Island, SC. He is the son of Mary Jane Washington and the late Primus Washington, and is the fifth child of six children. Rev. Washington is a proud husband, devoted father, former marine, and grandfather.

He commenced his preaching ministry under the tutorage of Rev. Dr. Terry Anthony King, overseer of Rock of Ages Baptist Church located in Greenville, SC, in October 2000. While under the leadership of Pastor King, he was licensed as an Associate Minister. Rev. Washington was the leading Armor Bearer for Pastor King and also the Young Adult Minister’s Counsel. In 2008, he was ordained by Rev. Terry L. Brown at the Center Rabun Baptist Church, Gray Court, SC.

Rev. Washington is the former pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Grambling, SC and St. John Baptist Church located in Newberry, SC. While serving within the various capacities, he served as secretary of the Spartanburg County Baptist Association, member of the Ordination Counsel, clergy liaison with the Newberry Police Department  for  the Wildlife Youth Program, and an active member of both local and state level Baptist associations. He also holds certification in the Old and New Testament and Biblical Studies from Empowerment Christian Studies.

In his spare time, Rev. Washington loves spending time with his family and laughing about the joys that this life continues to bring. He is a die hard Pittsburg Steelers and Clemson Tigers No. 1 Fan Club Member. Rev. Washington also serves on the Dorman High School Executive Booster Club Board and is responsible for mentoring young athletes while serving as the girl’s basketball representative in Roebuck, SC.

Rev. Washington’s focus scripture is Matthew 6:33, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Washington’s LinkedIn profile

Washington’s Facebook profile

Black Collar Crime: 90-Year-Old Evangelical Man Accused of Sex Crime

sebastian solis

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.

Sebastian Solis, a member of Soldiers of the Cross of Christ Church (Soldados De La Crus De Cristo) in Pasadena, Texas stands accused of touching a girl under a table — grabbing her buttocks. Oddly, a church member caught the assault on video, reporting it to — no not the police, silly boy — to their pastor and the girl’s father. Fortunately, the father reported the matter to the police. According to the police, the man touched the girl at least ten times, all at the church.

ABC-13 reports:

Court documents indicate the video shows the defendant sitting at a table, grabbing the buttocks of the girl, who was wearing a dress. Court records also show he allegedly moved his hands along her thigh and approached her crotch area.

The investigation, which began in November showed the defendant allegedly touched the girl at least 10 times, all taking place at the church on Austin Street.

Solis turned himself in this week. He is currently being held on a $10,000 bond. If he posts bond, he will have a protective order in place, and cannot contact the victim.

Clergy Sex Crimes: The Stunning Number of Black Collar Crime Reports

black collar crime

It should be clear to everyone by now that Evangelicalism has a huge problem with sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. Hopefully, the Black Collar Crime series has forever shut the mouths of those who self-righteously claim that Evangelicals don’t have the same sort of sexual abuse problem as the Catholics do. I hope, anyway — but way too many Christian zealots are oblivious to their flies being unzipped. Bob Gray, Sr, the retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas, loved to rail against the Catholics over their sexual abuse scandal. Gray, Sr, blindly believed that Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches didn’t have such problems. Evidently, in the mind of Gray, Sr, IFB doctrine is a condom of sorts that protects preachers, evangelists, missionaries, youth pastors, and deacons from committing sex crimes. Of course, we now know that the condom has a hole in it, and IFB leaders are just as likely to molest children, assault teenagers, and sexually manipulate congregants as are Roman Catholic priests. Gray, Sr, knows this, but he ignores it, choosing instead to protect serial adulterer David Hyles and fellate a blow-up doll of accused adulterer Jack Hyles. Countless sex scandals have rocked the Hyles wing of the IFB church movement, yet little is said publicly by men such as Gray, Sr. Wouldn’t it be great if IFB newspaper The Sword of the Lord ran a regular Black Collar Crime column? You know, calling sin, sin, as IFB preachers are wont to do. It should be thoroughly embarrassing to Evangelicals that an atheist’s blog and the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s monthly newsletter do more good in this regard than The Sword of the LordChristianity Today, and CHARISMA Magazine combined.

Recently, Marja asked:

Thank you for your diligence with this [Black Collar Crime] series. You have collected so many examples of black collar crime it’s stunning. Did you have any inkling of this while you were a pastor? Do you think there is something uniquely Christian about this, as it were, or do you think this is a dynamic that is prominent in any community in which you have strong patriarchalism tied to imperatives of religious obedience?

The Internet has fundamentally and forever changed how the public hears of and responds to allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sex-related crimes. The same can be said for offending pastors, evangelists, missionaries, professors, and traveling singers. Before the Internet, a preacher could commit all sorts of crimes, and, if not caught red-handed or reported to the police, he could escape punishment. Why? First, many parishioners simply refused to believe that THEIR pastor could ever do such things! This kind of thinking remains a problem to this day. I have posted more than a few stories about offending pastors that have attracted people heaven-bent on protecting their pastor. They will demand I take the post down, saying their pastor couldn’t have committed the crimes he is accused of. I try to remind them of the fact that, according to the Bible, King David was a “man after God’s own heart,” yet he had a sexual affair with Bathsheba and later had her husband murdered. Rarely does this work — these preacher-worshipers refuse to see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Second, before the Internet, a God-loving, sin-hating predator could quietly leave one church and move on to fresh hunting grounds. His old church was glad he was gone, end of story. A good example of this is the sordid story of David Hyles. David was the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. His father, Jack, was the pastor. At the time, First Baptist was the largest church in the United States. David was accused of having sex with teen girls and adult members. When his behavior reached a level where it could not be ignored, David was shipped off by his father to Garland, Texas to pastor Miller Road Baptist Church. The elder Hyles said nothing to people at Miller Road — a church he himself once pastored — leaving them in the dark about his son’s sexual proclivities. And, as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, David Hyles returned to his predatory ways, fucking his way through the church.

Third, IFB preachers/church leaders were taught to protect their church’s “testimony” at all costs. “There are souls in need of saving,” the thinking went. “If people find out about what our pastor/deacon/youth pastor/bus driver/school principal did, why they might not want to come to our church!” I know of countless scandals that were swept under the rug, all in the name of protecting the church’s reputation. Victims were often disbelieved and, far too often, blamed for what happened to them. Sometimes, church leaders would withhold from congregants allegations against their pastors. I know of one church which has had three sex scandals over the past twenty-five years, yet the pastor and church board have never given congregants a full accounting of what happened. The pastor, from the pulpit, encouraged people to “trust” him, that he was taking care of matters. This resulted, of course, in one man committing crimes TWICE at the same church over the course of two decades. So much for taking care of things.  Fortunately, the second offense landed the offender in prison.

Fourth, it was hard to get to local law enforcement and prosecutors to take seriously allegations of criminal sexual misconduct against clergymen. Pastors were often viewed as pillars of their communities, men of virtue, character, and moral integrity. Sadly, some legal authorities who should have known better, believed that clergymen were above the fray; that it was impossible for such “godly” men to commit such crimes. Case in point is the late Mack Ford. Ford operated IFB boys’ and girls’ homes — detention centers — in Louisiana. He was repeatedly accused of criminal behavior, yet he astoundingly escaped prosecution. (Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for Girls.) Countless children were harmed by Ford and people employed by him, yet local authorities refused to investigate or prosecute.

These four things, and others, provided cover for clergy sexual misconduct — and other crimes too. Over the years, I would hear whispers about this preacher or that preacher, or hear that Pastor so-and-so suddenly resigned from his church in Ohio and moved in the night to Florida. Such men were accused of everything from molesting children to running off with their secretary, yet I know of only two men who were arrested, prosecuted, and served time in prison for criminal behavior. Sadly, far too many offending preachers had a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

While I don’t think such behaviors are uniquely a “Christian” problem, I believe that certain Evangelical beliefs and practices make such things more likely. First, Evangelicals are known for preaching against sex — any and all sex except for married, one man/one woman, monogamous, missionary-position sex. Puritanical views on sex breed sexual dysfunction and deviancy. It has been my observation that the louder some preachers preach against certain sexual sins, the more likely it is that they are doing the very things they preach against. One such preacher I know spent years having sex with his secretary every Saturday in his office. Bus workers would gather on Saturdays to visit their routes and canvass for new riders. After everyone left the building, the pastor and his lover would hit the carpet. Imagine this! Prior to having adulterous sex, this pastor would lead workers in prayer and give them a short devotional from the Bible. And then on Sundays, he would rain Holy Hell down on the heads of congregants, warning them that God hates sexual sin. (All pastors are hypocrites, but this man took the cake.)

bob gray jacksonville

Bob Gray, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, still clutching his King James Bible as he leaves jail

Second, Evangelical pastors wield great power — authoritarian and patriarchal in nature — over their congregations. Most churches are pastored by one man. In some Evangelical circles, pastors have total control over their churches, deciding everything from who can/can’t be a member to how the money is spent. (There are, by the way, Biblical proof texts supporting this kind of “rule,” but I’ll leave that to another day.) Suffice it to say that way too many churches are controlled and lorded over by their pastors. Now, this in and of itself doesn’t necessarily lead to criminal behavior, but some authoritarian pastors, drunk with power, do cross moral boundaries and commit crimes. It is not uncommon for Fundamentalist churches to be pastored by narcissistic men or sociopaths. Take for example the other Bob Gray — the former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. This Gray molested children and preyed on women for fifty years. His church was one the largest in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. I considered him to be one the best pulpiteers I ever heard. I loved to hear him preach. (I vividly remember a sermon he preached on being filled with the Holy Spirit.) Gray was not found out and arrested until near the end of his life. He died awaiting trial for sex crimes. Gray ruled his church with a rod of iron. I have no doubt that there were whispers about “Bro. Gray” over the years, yet out of fear or not wanting to cause a scandal, people said nothing. Authoritarianism will do that, silencing people who see and know that their pastors are perverts or abusers.

Thanks to the Internet and to countless victims unwilling to be silenced, it is now much harder for Evangelical preachers to escape punishment for their crimes. With great courage, victimized men and women share their stories, even when the statute of limitations precludes their abusers from being prosecuted. Light dispels darkness, and as long as I am among the living, I intend to write about clergy sexual misconduct, publish first-person stories about clergy abuse, and publish Black Collar Crime posts. The Evangelical sex scandal is in its infancy. I have published over 500 Black Collar Crime stories. This, I am certain, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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