Tag Archive: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Elizandro Montoya-Salazar Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor elizandro montoya-salazar

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.

Elizandro Montoya-Salazar, pastor of Lalgesia Apostolica of the Faith in Jesus Christ Church (no website) in Elgin, Illinois, stands accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl.

The Daily Herald reports:

An Elgin pastor sexually assaulted and abused a teenage girl while giving her a ride home from a church event in November 2018, according to a police affidavit used to obtain a search warrant.

The attack happened some three months after Elizandro Montoya-Salazar, 46, of 0-99 block of North Lord Avenue, Carpentersville, asked the girl if she “liked liked him,” according to the affidavit. Montoya-Salazar was charged recently with criminal sexual assault of a victim 13 to 17 years old and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a person in a position of trust and authority, all felonies.

….

He appeared in court Wednesday, where his bond conditions were changed to allow him to have supervised telephone contact and video visits with his children. He is being held at the Kane County jail on $300,000 bail, meaning he must post $30,000 to be released while the case is pending.

According to a police affidavit used to secure a search warrant for Montoya-Salazar’s cellphone and documents at the Lalgesia Apostolica of the Faith in Jesus Christ Church, 37W080 Hopps Road, the victim reached out to a female volunteer at the church in August 2019 regarding the attack.

The girl was upset and didn’t want to say what happened or who did it, but she texted the church volunteer Oct. 5, saying she had told her parents that Montoya-Salazar assaulted her and her parents were filing a report with Elgin police, according to the affidavit.

The volunteer reported to two other pastors at the church that the victim said, via text, that Montoya-Salazar had assaulted her. The volunteer said Montoya-Salazar preached at the church the next day, according to the affidavit.

“He preached at the church the next day.” Need I say more?

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Daniel Heath Pleads Guilty to Sexting

pastor daniel heath

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.

Earlier this year, Daniel Heath, the associate pastor of First Baptist Church — affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship — in Wilson, North Carolina, was charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and coercion and enticement of a minor. The Wilson Times reported at the time (behind paywall):

A Wilson pastor and a volunteer youth baseball coach accused of sexual exploitation of a minor now faces a federal charge in connection to the case.

A Texas grand jury indicted 33-year-old Daniel Franklin Heath on one count of coercion and enticement of a minor, according to a unsealed federal indictment obtained by The Wilson Times. That indictment was handed down Wednesday. Heath, a former associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilson, was arrested a day earlier on the charge of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to the Texas federal indictment, Heath used an LG model cellphone to “persuade, induce, entice and coerce,” a minor to “engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of creating a visual depiction of such conduct, knowing that such depiction would transmitted in interstate and foreign commerce.”

Federal authorities say activity occurred from December of 2017 until April 11 of this year, according to the indictment out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division. Heath could face 10 years to life in prison if convicted on the federal charge.

….

Heath’s arrest warrant in Wilson alleges that he did “encourage” a 16-year-old girl to “engage in sexual activity, perform sexual activities to herself for the purpose of producing material containing a visual representation depicting this activity, the defendant knowing the character and content of the performance and material.”

Church members were also seated inside the courtroom Friday.

Heath is currently being held on a $500,000 secured bond in the Wilson County Detention Center.

….

The Federal Bureau of Investigation contacted the Wilson Police Department in April regarding Heath, who was the subject of an ongoing investigation, officials have said.

On Tuesday, the police department’s FBI Task Force detective assisted FBI agents in executing a search warrant at Heath’s home in Wilson, according to officials. Based upon evidence gathered at the scene, authorities arrested and charged Heath on that same day.

Several weeks ago, Heath pleaded guilty to enticing and coercing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Baptist News Global reports:

Heath, who stepped down in May after 10 years on staff at First Baptist Church in Wilson, North Carolina, admitted to a federal court in Texas that he knew the unnamed minor was under 18 and living with her parents in Texas when he asked her to take photos and videos of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct on her cellular phone and send the images to him.

Heath, 33, admitted his communications with the victim were romantic in nature, with both parties declaring themselves to be “in love.” Prosecutors said Heath required the girl to “submit” to him in matters including what to wear and to obtain his consent before touching her own body, but he did not agree with that part of a statement of stipulated facts.

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According to the Wilson Times, the sentencing phase of Heath’s case is expected within the next few months. He could face from 10 years to life in prison.

Authorities say a third party introduced Heath to the victim through an Internet-based social media application in or about December 2017.

The two remained in “almost constant contact” until this April, court documents said, including his traveling to Texas to visit her in February.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Gregory Lucy Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

bishop gregory lucy

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 Lucy, director and bishop of El Shaddai A.O.H. Church of God in Dixon Mills, Alabama, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an underage girl. (A.O.H. stands for Apostolic Overcoming Holy [Church of God])

AL.com reports:

Lucy was arrested in 2016 after being indicted on four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of attempted rape. Lucy is a bishop at church.

According to court records, Lucy was accused of fondling the girl’s breasts and genitals in March of that year. Authorities didn’t say whether the victim was a member of Lucy’s congregation.

Lucy this week pleaded guilty in a Marengo County courtroom to one count of first-degree sex abuse. As part of his plea agreement, the other charges against him were dismissed.

District Attorney Greg Griggers is recommending a 10-year prison sentence for the Class C felony conviction, records show. Griggers said in court documents the state will be opposed to any probation or any type of split sentence for Lucy.

According to 2015 bio on the AOH Church of God website:

Bishop Gregory Lucy, is know [sic] to some as “Overseer,” others as an intellectual, community leader, visionary, educator, counselor, and still others as a devoted husband, beloved father, and loyal friend. No matter your point of reference, there are few places you will travel in this area without hearing the name Overseer Gregory Lucy. A native of Dixons Mills, Alabama Overseer Lucy was one of seventeen children born to the late John and Alma Lucy. Gregory Lucy was raised alongside a diverse array of siblings. Many of his childhood experiences nurtured his unique call to the ministry and helped honed his distinct ability to deliver the gospel to reach diverse people of many backgrounds and denominations. As a scholar, Overseer Lucy graduated from Marengo High School and went on to attend Bishop State Community College in Mobile, AL. It is noteworthy to mention that the years Overseer Lucy attended Bishop State, helped distinguish and contributed to his greater accomplishments later in life.

….

In 1986, at the age of thirty, the late Senior Bishop Jasper Roby ordained Overseer Lucy an Elder. After serving as assistant Pastor for two-years under the leadership of Elder Willie Jones, Overseer Lucy accepted his first pastorate at Dixons Mills A.O.H. Church of God appointed by Bishop G. W. Ayers. During this tenure, many changes were made, from many building restorations to significantly increasing the membership of the church. Because of his consistent dedication to God’s work, Overseer Lucy was promoted from an Elder to Assistant Overseer of the 6th District. In 2000 God gave Overseer Lucy a vision to move the church to a new location and build it debt free, which at the time seemed to be a huge task to accomplish. He continually encouraged the members that the new church and location would come to pass without fail stating, “When God gives a vision, he will provide.” On September 29, 2002, the new debt-free church with a seating capacity of six hundred was dedicated and given the new name El Shaddai A.O.H. Church of God.

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In March 2006 Overseer Lucy was appointed Overseer of the 22nd District. In June 2011 Overseer Lucy was appointed Bishop-Elect in this great Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God. Bishop Lucy continues in the promises that God has given him as he endeavors to nurture a church that goes “beyond the walls,” pursuing an ongoing effort to touch lives with the love of God. It is also his desire that El Shaddai A.O.H Church have a positive and powerful impact on its community bringing hope and uplift in every way possible. “The Lord is truly blessing this church, and HE continues to bless me and I can assure you that if you live for God, He will take care of you.” – Bishop Lucy is the proud husband of 30 years to Lady Phyllis Lucy, a devoted father to Gabriel and Adrienne Lucy and loving grandfather to Brendon L. Lucy. Bishop Lucy was consecrated bishop in 2013.

And now he can add child molester to his resume.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Erick Ortenblad Accused of Theft by Swindle

pastor erick ortenblad

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.

Erick Ortenblad, pastor of Experience Christ Church in Raymond (Willmar, Prinsburg), Minnesota, stands accused of swindling a family out of $70,000. Ortenblad is a graduate of Christ for the Nations Institute.

The West Central Tribune reports:

A New London man faces a felony charge of theft by swindle for allegedly bilking a Prinsburg couple out of $70,000 in the guise of a loan.
Erick Anders Ortenblad, 34, made his initial appearance last week in Kandiyohi County District Court. He was released on his own recognizance on the condition he not leave Minnesota and have no contact with the alleged victims.

His next court appearance will be Nov. 13.

According to court records, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office received a report early this year that a couple in Prinsburg had been swindled by Ortenblad.

The couple said the pastor of their church had introduced them to Ortenblad, who said he was a pastor of Experience Christ Church. They told authorities they felt they could trust him because other people in their community knew him.

Ortenblad visited the home of the couple several times to pray with them, with attention to the man’s health problems, according to the criminal complaint. Their pastor accompanied Ortenblad to the first meeting and told authorities he had learned later about subsequent meetings. He had been surprised when he learned about the loan, the pastor said.

Ortenblad allegedly asked the couple for a $70,000 loan so he could purchase a church property in Willmar on short notice. The couple said they gave Ortenblad a $70,000 check in March 2017 and made it clear it was a loan. He allegedly told them he would repay them when his home in Texas was sold.

….

When he was interviewed by law enforcement, Ortenblad said the money was a loan for the church building. However, the day after he deposited the money in the church’s account, he transferred $55,000 to his father’s account in the same bank to repay a debt.

Ortenblad’s father was interviewed and said he knew of the loan from the couple but did not know why they had loaned him the money, according to the complaint. He said he believed some of the money had been used to repay him for a loan he had given his son and family to purchase their home in Texas.

When the sale of the Texas house fell through, Ortenblad said he was unable to repay the couple, according to court records. He said that he had owed about $2,000 to his housing association, and he claimed the association foreclosed on his home and sold it without giving him any financial compensation.

Ortenblad said the remaining $15,000 of the loan was spent on church expenses, including salaries for him and his wife.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Keith Collins and His Wife Accused of Theft

pastor keith collins
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.

Keith Collins, pastor of Church of the Overcomer in Trainer, Pennsylvania, and his wife Carolyn stand accused of embezzling over $1,000,000 from elderly, incapacitated adults.

The Delco Times reports:

A former Democratic candidate for Delaware County Council, his wife and her sister were charged Monday in a scheme to embezzle more than $1 million from approximately 112 elderly victims through court-appointed guardianships.

Pastors Keith and Carolyn Collins, of the Church of the Overcomer in Trainer, and Gloria F. Byars, sister of Carolyn Collins, turned themselves in Monday morning on charges including theft, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and failure to make required dispensation of funds.

“Gloria Byars, Keith Collins and Carolyn Collins were entrusted to care for our most vulnerable elderly citizens,” said Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland at a press conference announcing the charges. “Instead of simply doing their jobs, they cruelly embezzled over $1 million from over 100 incapacitated individuals, people who could not make decisions for themselves.”

The total amount of fraud alleged comes to $1,009,172 and involves 108 victims in Philadelphia, Delaware, Bucks, Berks, Montgomery and Lancaster counties. Copeland indicated another four victims from Philadelphia would also be included in those roles. All of the victims are over the age of 60 and many are in their 80s and 90s, she said.

“The impact of Byars’ and the Collins’ actions were far reaching, depleting significant amounts of monies from their wards from six different counties,” Copeland said. “To add insult to injury, Keith and Carolyn Collins, as pastors, used their church to help funnel the stolen money, betraying not only their duties as court appointed guardians but their duties as ministers of God.”

Copeland said the defendants used the ill-gotten gains on personal expenses including luxury cars, high-end clothing and accessories from Louis Viton, Jimmy Choo and Coach, airline trips and Hilton Hotel stays worth thousands of dollars, and a time share.

….

Byars and Carolyn Collins had no comment Monday, but Keith Collins, a longtime staple of the church community and unsuccessful Democratic candidate in the 2011 county council race, denied the allegations.

“I’m a pastor and if there were donations made, people are allowed to make donations to the church,” he told reporters outside the county courthouse in Media.

When confronted with accusations of theft, Collins indicated he did not know what the specific allegations were, but that taking care of people was his “life’s work” and that he works with people that no one else wants to work with.

“You’re welcome to come to the church and find out about us,” he later said while being led out of district court in handcuffs to a waiting law enforcement vehicle.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Stephen Morris Accused of Additional Sex Crimes

pastor stephen morris

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.

Eariler this year, Stephen Morris, pastor of Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church in Four Oaks, North Carolina,  was accused of raping a thirteen-year-old girl. (The church has no web presence.)

ABC-11 reported at the time:

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office arrested 61-year-old Reverend Stephen Morris last Friday on 10 felony counts, including five counts of statutory rape and five counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.

According to court documents, Morris is accused of statutory rape with a 13-year-old between June 2013 and June 2014.

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Detectives say the victim is now 19 years old and reported what happened to police last month.

Because the incident involves a juvenile victim, authorities would not disclose how the victim and suspect knew one another.

Morris remains in the Johnston County jail under a $2.5 million bond.

Morris now faces additional sex crime charges involving two underage girls, along with new charges related to the thirteen-year-old victim.

The Johnston County Report says:

The former pastor of a Four Oaks church charged in July with engaging in sexual acts with a juvenile has now been charged with crimes against two more underage victims.

everend Stephen Arthur Morris was the pastor at Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church on Highway 301 South of Four Oaks when he was originally arrested on July 5th, 2019. He resigned the same day from his role at the church. He posted bail July 26th, 2019 when his bond was lowered to $250,000 and was confined to house arrest at his residence on Parkertown Road. Morris is now back behind bars.

Today (Wednesday), Rev. Morris was served with additional warrants involving the original victim plus two additional victims who have now come forward.

Morris was indicted Oct. 7th by a Johnston County Grand Jury on 12 new charges, that’s in addition to 14 charges he already faces.

Eight of the 12 new charges are for additional incidents in 2013 and 2014 involving the first victim. Those new charges include additional counts of statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a minor for sexual acts with the female victim, who was 13 at the time of the alleged offenses.

After the arrest of Rev. Morris was reported by the media in July, JoCoReport has learned two additional victims came forward reporting incidents to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. Those incidents occurred in 2008. Rev. Morris is accused of soliciting nude photos of the two young girls who were 9 and 11 at the time.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Victor Trevino, Sr. Sentenced for Failing to Report Child Abuse

victor trevino sr

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.

Victor Trevino, Sr, pastor of The Bread House South in Lansing, Michigan, was sentenced to eighty hours of community service for failing to report child abuse allegedly perpetrated by his youth pastor son, Trevino, Jr.

WILX-10 reports:

Victor Trevino Sr. was sentenced Thursday to 80 hours of community service for not reporting the abuse allegedly done by his son.

Trevino Jr. is a youth pastor at the Bread House South church. Prosecutors say he had inappropriate contact with a minor between 13 and 16 years old.

He faces nine charges, including four counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of child sexually abusive activity, one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime.

He’s also charged with five counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child under 13 years old and one count of second-degree criminal sexual assault in a different case.

Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for Trevino said, “Pastor Trevino is committed to performing the community service ordered today and offers prayers of healing and strength for all involved.”

Trevino Sr. pleaded guilty in August to the misdemeanor and must also pay $400 in fines and costs, said Scott Hughes, an Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman.

The good pastor “offers prayers of healing and strength for all involved.” Really? How about reporting allegations of sexual abuse the moment you hear of them? How about protecting the children in your church? While it is refreshing to see a pastor prosecuted for failing to report, I am not sure a $400 fine and eighty hours of community service fit the crime. Just once, I would like to see an offending pastor do actual jail time for failing to report abuse. In Trevino Sr’s case, once he completes his community service hours and pays his fine, it is likely charges will be dismissed. Can’t do anything to besmirch the character of a man of God, right? I wonder if The Bread House South and its denomination will discipline Trevino, Sr. for his sin? Lest everyone involved forgets, the Bible says in James 4:17:

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Trevino, Sr. knew to “do good” and did it not. God calls that sin. I call it a gross abrogation of personal responsibility for church children.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Victor Trevino, Jr. Accused of Sex Crimes

victor trevino 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.

In June 2019, Victor Trevino, Jr, a youth pastor at The Bread House South in Lansing, Michigan, was accused of sexually assaulting two minor girls.

WILX-10 reported at the time:

A youth pastor at a church in Lansing has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor in 2 separate cases. Victor Albert Trevino Jr. has been arraigned on a total of 15 charges between the two cases.

Trevino is a youth pastor at the Bread House South church. Prosecutors say he had inappropriate contact with a minor between 13 and 16 years old. They also say Trevino repeatedly tried to convince her to have sex with him. He’s facing 9 charges in the Lansing case.

In August 2019, Trevino waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

WILX-10 reported:

WILX reported in June, 2019, that a girl younger than 14 came forward with allegations that Trevino repeatedly molested her at his family home in Holt.

She said Trevino often hosted sleepovers for kids from church.

The girls said he touched her inappropriately six times between October, 2018, and March, 2019.

After the girls mother was informed, she took her daughters phone and recorded pictures and videos on Snapchat from Trevino that included images of male genitalia.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Nicholas Martin Accused of Sexual Assault

nicholas martin

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 Martin, youth pastor and worship leader at North Belmont Church of God (no web presence) in Belmont, North Carolina, stands accused of sexually assaulting a fourteen-year-old girl. Since Martin’s arrest, he has been accused of sexually assaulting three other children.

The Gaston Gazette reports:

Three more accusers have come forward to say a Gaston County preacher already facing child sex crimes also sexually assaulted them, according to prosecutors.

A 14-year-old girl and her parents came to Gaston County Police late last week to say 24-year-old Nicholas Martin had sexually assaulted the child. Police arrested the North Belmont Church of God music and youth pastor on Saturday on four counts of indecent liberties with a child.

He was booked into Gaston County Jail under a $1 million bond.

Since those charges came to light, three more people have contacted police.

On Monday, District Court Judge Pennie Thrower declined to reduce his bond. His attorney had asked for a bond of $50,000, arguing Martin has no prior criminal history and lives at home with his wife.

Some of the new alleged incidents occurred in the home with Martin’s wife present, according to prosecutors.

“When we have allegations involving someone who is connected to the community like this person was an associate pastor, we have to act quickly,” Gaston County Police Capt. Billy Downey said before court.

Officials said Martin committed several crimes involving the 14-year-old accuser from October 2018 until September 2019.

Arrest warrants show he got a 14-year-old drunk before abusing the victim on several occasions.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Christopher Cox Pleads Guilty to Sexual Misconduct

pastor christopher cox

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.

On March 30, 2019, Christopher Cox, pastor of Long Lake Church in Traverse City, Michigan, was arrested and charged with luring two men to his office and raping them after incapacitating them with methamphetamine and GHB.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported:

Michigan State Police investigators interviewed a 19-year-old man who claimed Cox contacted him March 12 looking for a “drug buddy,” according to court records. Cox promised the man — who was homeless at the time — drugs and women if he came back with Cox to his home, the man claimed.

Cox gave the man meth to smoke and “CBD shots,” making the man “extremely inebriated,” according to a probable cause statement. Cox raped the man numerous times over the course of several hours that night, according to the account.

The accuser said Cox dropped him off at Safe Harbor the following morning, threatening to kill him if he told anyone about the night prior.

Records show the accuser went to Munson Medical Center where a sexual assault exam revealed bruising and redness “consistent with anal trauma.”

Mike McDonald, chairman of Safe Harbor’s executive board, said homeless people are much more likely to be victimized than the average person.

“It’s appalling to me that something like this could happen to anybody under any circumstances, especially by someone who purports to be a minister,” McDonald said.

A second man told troopers that Cox gave him meth sometime in October 2018 at Cox’s office in Traverse City — Moeggenberg did not immediately know the location. Like the account given by the other man, Cox gave the man meth and waited until he was high, drunk and incapacitated before assaulting him, despite the man’s efforts to fight him off, records show.

The man told Michigan State Police troopers that Cox stopped several hours later, claiming he had to get back to his wife and child.

“Based on what I know, I would be surprised if there weren’t more victims,” Moeggenberg said.

A search of Cox’s home and office uncovered items like lubricant, male enhancement pills, a blindfold and nylon webbing police suspect was used for bondage, records show.

They also found lighters, glass pipes, single-use syringes, meth and a substance police believe was GHB, known as the “date rape drug,” according to records. Moeggenberg said investigators also seized electronic devices. MSP’s Computer Crimes Unit searched the devices recovered during the March 18 search and uncovered “additional evidence,” according to a press release.

Yesterday, Cox pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports:

Christopher Cox, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in a plea deal that dismissed a laundry list of charges — including three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, extortion, delivering/manufacturing meth and three counts for possession of child porn.

A third-degree CSC carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and requires registration as a sex offender. Initial charges could have netted a life sentence.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Rick Iglesias Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor rick iglesias

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.

Rick Diego Iglesias, the former senior pastor of Pleasant Valley Church in Winona, Minnesota, has been charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault, including heightened charges because the good pastor held a position of authority over the victim.

The Winona Post reports:

In late July, Winona Police Department investigators interviewed the alleged victim, who reported that he or she was repeatedly abused and raped over roughly three years, from 2010 to 2012, according to the criminal complaint.

Iglesias served as the senior pastor at Winona’s Pleasant Valley Church from 1994 to 2014 and more recently worked as a pastor in Mars, Penn. In a statement, Pleasant Valley Church Senior Pastor Chad Ellenburg called the news “devastating.” He wrote, “We are heartbroken for [Iglesias’] wife, Nancy, and son, Brennan, as we cannot imagine the pain and devastation they are experiencing at this time. We are also hurting for the victim, but thankful that they had the courage to come forward. We are praying for them as well as anyone who might be affected here at Pleasant Valley or in this community.”

“We are also deeply grieved that our former pastor, by his actions and deception, failed to faithfully represent Jesus Christ and his Gospel,” Ellenburg continued. “We have done, and will continue to do, everything we can to fully cooperate with the authorities. We will also continue to support and pray for the family, the victim, and those who will carry the responsibility of pursuing justice in this situation.”

Iglesias faces 30 years in prision, if convicted.

In 2007, Iglesias was interviewed by Trevin Wax for a The Gospel Coalition article. TGC has removed the article from their site, but I was able to find a cached copy of the interview. Here’s an excerpt:

I began by asking Rick about his spiritual background and his call to ministry. Rick grew up in a family environment that took seriously the commands of God. Though his family was Roman Catholic, Rick believes his early family life equipped him for future service in the way that “God was honored, prayer was valued, the church was central and service to others was modeled.” Rick’s religious upbringing shaped his values and experiences.

Rick came to saving faith in Christ during his freshman year in college through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. During those years in college, Rick was discipled by other Christians and through his experiences he received a “greater vision for God’s purpose in the world and my part in that.”

As he began participating in local church ministry and foreign mission trips, Rick began to sense the Lord speaking to him about a calling to full-time ministry. To clarify this call, Rick spent extended times in the Word seeking to discern God’s call on his life. “I recall spending a weekend away during my senior year in college with a pastor friend, and as he prayed over me, he prayed a simple prayer, but one that the Lord used at that point in my life: ‘Rick, be like Jesus! Have compassion on the troubled, helpless crowds that have no Shepherd! Be ashamed to die until you have won a major victory for the unreached of the world.’” God used the encouragement and support of godly men around Rick to clarify his calling. “I’ve always believed that you need a specific call not to be in ministry. God calls us to change the world. I believe He called me through circumstances, the Word, people in my life, and an inner peace that continues to this day,” he says boldly. Though Rick understood that God had called him to the ministry, he had some doubts as to how that would all take place. He served full-time at a church for seven years in a college ministry before going to seminary. His journey to seminary was a leap of faith, for he had no money, time, or desire to devote four years to study. Yet, the Lord spoke through his Word and through the generosity of faithful Christians supplied all his financial needs while in seminary.

“Every time that God has spoken and I have tried to respond with obedience, He has more than met me where I needed Him to be,” he testifies.

Rick has never faced any doubts about being in full-time ministry, although rough leadership meetings or discouraging emails occasionally threaten to steal his focus. During the tough moments of ministry, Rick is sustained by the transformation he sees taking place in his people’s lives. “We have front row seats to the life-transforming acts of God!” he says. Being in ministry is a privilege.

When asked about the necessary character traits that Scripture demands of church leaders, Rick mentions two that encompass many others: a passion for God and a compassion for people. “If you have a passion for God, you will be honest and faithful, and you will love the Word, live out your faith, and develop a whole host of traits that God calls us to exhibit as we walk with Him. If you have compassion for people, you will be compassionate and patient, passionate toward the lost, and a whole host of other traits that we need to model in our relationships with people.” The rubric of “loving God” and “loving people” comes from Jesus himself. Therefore, Rick believes that our character traits will come from this perspective.

Rick’s personal struggle is maintaining an “all-consuming passion for God” every day. Though he prays and spends time in the Word, he finds that a burning passion for God’s presence often eludes him. Rick’s goal is to “be connected to Jesus each and every day, to walk so closely that I hear his heartbeat for the lost, for the least, for the lonely, for those that he places in my path.” Keeping that desire at the forefront of his spiritual life is his deepest struggle.

Rick mentions several ways he protects himself from temptation. He meets with two pastor friends every week for accountability. “I have been meeting with these pastors for over 12 years now, so we are transparent and free to share some of the ugliest aspects of our lives,” he says. He also has safeguards on the computer to ensure that internet pornography does not become a snare. He carries a small card in his wallet that lists all the blessings that come from his ministry and what would happen if he were to fall. “Remember – temptation is an opportunity to do good!” he says.

When asked about temptations that plague other ministers, he lists off character flaws and actions such as selfishness, pride, being an overbearing authority figure, compromising integrity, lack of sexual purity, and lacking balance between ministry and family.

…..

Iglesias resigned from Pleasant Valley Church in 2014. The Winona Post reported at the time:

Although he seems too humble to admit it, Rick Iglesias is the kind of man who cannot walk into a room without a few people rushing over to greet him with a strong handshake or an enthusiastic hug. Iglesias’ magnetism can be attributed to many things, from his friendly demeanor to his ever-present grin, but for many, it is his service as lead pastor of Pleasant Valley Church (PVC) for 20 years that stands out above all. “Our focus is to have a real, strong community presence,” Iglesias said. “[We try to have a] positive impact on the community in many ways.”

After resigning from his position this past fall, Iglesias is still very much active in the Winona community, evidenced from his time spent at Winona Senior High School (WSHS) talking to Spanish classes, as well as the abundance of people who make an effort to stop and thank him for his service over the years. His continued community involvement is not surprising; Iglesias and his wife Nancy have called Winona and PVC home since moving to Southeast Minnesota from suburban Chicago in October of 1994. For the past 20 years they have built a life together that includes their son, Brennan, a senior at WSHS, so it will be a bittersweet moment when Iglesias and his family move sometime after Brennan’s graduation in the spring. “When my wife and I came to Winona, we wanted to get involved in the community,” Iglesias explained. “We want to give back to Winona as much as we can.”

Over his tenure as lead pastor Iglesias has helped to shape the lives of people across many demographics, but he admitted to holding a special affinity toward young adults in the community, including college students and those with young families. “We have really strong ministries with youth,” he explained. “We try to make Christianity practical and accessible.” Prior to arriving in Winona, Iglesias worked at a college ministry, and was surprised at the lack of involvement between the church and Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University and Minnesota State College–Southeast Technical. “Here’s a town with three colleges and frankly, there was not a lot going on,” Iglesias remembered thinking. “We need to focus on the next generation.” In the coming years Iglesias, along with fellow PVC administrators and members, focused on how to involve the younger population of Winona, and started initiatives such as ministries aimed at middle school, high school and college students, Monday night contemporary service, and classes to help with money management and other life skills. “I’ve had college students come up to me and tell me ‘PVC has made all the difference [in] my college experience,’” Iglesias said. “There is no success without successors.”

….

Black Collar Crime: Jason Ramsey Pleads Guilty to 50 Child Sex Charges

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.

Jason Lee Ramsey, a church-going man from Rocky Point, North Carolina, pleaded guilty Monday to 50 child sex charges. Ramsey befriended  the victim at church. She was 13 at the time. This led to three years of sexual misconduct. Ramsey will spend 30 years in prison for his crimes.

Star News Online reports:

Ramsey befriended the victim at church when the victim was 13. A year later he began raping her, and carried on a sexually explicit correspondence with her for the next three years.

When she turned 18, the victim told her parents about the abuse, which took place in both New Hanover and Pender counties.

“Thanks to the bravery of this victim, a child predator is going prison for nearly three decades,” David said in the release. “The Kure Beach Police Department conducted a stellar investigation, which made this plea possible and spared the victim the trauma of having to testify in court.”

An investigation by local detectives who trained at the National Computer Forensics Institute uncovered sexually explicit images and texts on Ramsey’s computer, leading to additional charges.

In addition to decades in prison, Ramsey will have to register as a sex offender for life.

The name of the church is not mentioned in any public news reports.