Tag Archive: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Worker Heather Matuszek Charged with Molesting Teen Girl

heather matuszek

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.

Heather Matuszek, a former youth worker at Clearwater Community Church in Dunedin, Florida and a Chick-fil-A franchisee, has been charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.

Fox-13 reports:

Detectives arrested and charged Heather Matuszek, 32, of Dunedin, with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. They say Matuszek has admitted to two occasions of the alleged abuse, which the victim said happened in 2014 when Matuszek was a youth leader at Clearwater Community Church.

The incidents happened outside of the church setting, investigators said, adding contact between leaders and youths outside of the church is not uncommon.

According to her victim, who was 15 years old at the time, Matuszek, then 28, slept in the victim’s bed two separate nights.

The victim reported Matuszek kissed her face and rubbed her arms, body, and breast area, over her clothing.

The victim also said there were other incidents involving Matuszek outside of Pinellas County, which the sheriff’s office said are being investigated by the relevant agencies.

Detectives say Matuszek no longer attends Clearwater Community Church, however, there may be other victims who go to the church.

Clearwater Community Church pastor Josh Kee released the following statement:

We are greatly concerned for the victim and her family and the impact this has had on them and our church community. We are committed to ensuring that the children and youth who participate in our ministries are protected and nurtured. Our priority at this time is to support and care for the victim and her family and we will do all that is necessary to support any resulting investigation.

Black Collar Crime: IFB School Teacher Shannon Griffin Charged with Sexual Assault

shannon griffin

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.

(Please see Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Thomas Griffin Leaves His Wife’s Alleged Crimes in the Lord’s Hands)

Shannon Griffin, an IFB pastor’s wife and a kindergarten teacher at Jordan Baptist School in Burbank, Illinois, was arrested Monday and charged with sexual assault and solicitation of child pornography. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Shannon Griffin, 49, of Oak Lawn, a teacher at Jordan Baptist School, was taken into custody Monday after a monthslong investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators allege that Griffin “engaged in sexual conduct” with a male underage student who was enrolled at the school, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Griffin is also charged with sending nude pictures and videos of herself to that minor and another juvenile at the school, both males, and asking the minors to send her images, according to the sheriff’s office.

The alleged conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of this year, police said.

Griffin, who is also charged with distribution of harmful materials and grooming, is expected to appear in bond court on Wednesday.

….

The investigation began in early March when the Burbank Police Department received an anonymous tip, according to Burbank police records obtained through a public records request. The tipster also told police that the school pastor, who is married to Griffin, and the principal were made aware about the inappropriate videos and images, according to the police records.

….

During an interview with detectives, the student said that a female teacher sent images and videos showing a woman “removing her clothing and exposing her breasts and vagina,” according to Burbank police records. The student also gave police a Samsung Galaxy tablet, which he said he used to make copies of the messages, the police records indicate.
Burbank detectives who reviewed the messages noted the images did not show “a visible head or face of the female,” according to Burbank police reports.

Jordan Baptist School is owned and operated by Jordan Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. Jordan Baptist is pastored by Thomas Griffin, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College. Currently, both the church and school websites are down. A cached page says the following about Pastor Griffin:

Thomas Griffin, Pastor of Jordan Baptist Church, Burbank, Illinois, was born in Toledo, Ohio. He is a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College and previously worked for his home church of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, Temperance, Michigan; and as an Assistant Pastor of Jordan Baptist Church for five years. Pastor Griffin was called to Jordan Baptist Church in 1997. Since becoming pastor, Jordan Baptist Church has seen great advancements both numerically and spiritually. Several new ministries have also been started under his pastoral leadership.

He and his wife Shannon have been married since 1991 and have three daughters: ***, ***, and ***. He loves his church and has a tremendous burden for the Chicago area, and even through busy ministries and growth, Jordan Baptist Church has maintained its close-knit family atmosphere with a passion for serving people.

Griffins’ adult daughters also teach at Jordan Baptist School — an unaccredited institution.

Update, July 3, 2019

The Chicago Tribune reports Shannon Griffin had her first court appearance today. Lori Levin, Griffin’s attorney,  said her client “vehemently denies that it’s her in the photos.”

Cook County Judge John Mahoney ordered Griffin held on a $750,000 bond. He also ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victims in the case or with any minors.

ABC-7 reports:

Police said the inappropriate conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of 2019. Prosecutors said there are two victims. The first is a male student who was between 15 and 17 during the alleged crimes. Prosecutors said Griffin and the student had sex five times, often in her minivan in an industrial park, and a sixth time after he graduated. It was usually in exchange for a bottle of alcohol.

“In 2013, the victim asked the defendant on Snapchat if she would get a bottle. The defendant said, ‘Yes, if we have sex,'” Gruca said.

The second victim was a 16-year-old student who prosecutors said communicated with Griffin over Snapchat several times. The victim started taking screenshots of several pictures and video Griffin allegedly sent him, “One picture depicts the front of the defendant from the neck down in her bra and underwear with a message written across the picture, ‘warm out of the shower missing uuuu,'” Gruca said.

Both victims also told investigators Griffin has a tattoo of an arrow on her left hip. Griffin’s attorney did not answer whether or not Griffin has the tattoo after the judge asked her in court today.

After hearing the details the judge said, “This is a horrible betrayal. It boggles my mind…what a betrayal.”

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor Stephen Bratton Accused of Sexually Molesting Teenager

stephen bratton

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

Stephen Bratton, pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, stands accused of sexually molesting a teenage relative.  The Houston Chronicle reports:

A former pastor of a Southern Baptist church in north Harris County faces charges of molesting a teenage relative, sometimes multiple times a day, over the course of two years, court records show.

Stephen Bratton, who resigned from Grace Family Baptist Church in Cypress Station last month, was charged Friday with continuous sexual abuse of a child, Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland said Saturday. The 43-year-old is accused of inappropriate touching that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, Gilliland said.

….

Bratton has been an outspoken pro-life advocate, making national news recently for supporting a failed bill that would have made it possible to criminally charge women who terminate their pregnancies.

Bratton came forward to his wife about the abuse on May 15, according to a probable cause document. She called his co-pastors at 4 a.m. to organize a meeting, while Bratton contacted them later that day to say he had “sinned in grievous ways.”

“It was criminal,” said David Shiflet, pastor of the Grace Family Baptist Church in Conroe. “That’s when he came clean.”

The criminal investigation began on May 16 after Bratton allegedly confessed to three Southern Baptist clergy members that he abused the child. Two of Bratton’s co-pastors, Aaron Wright and Erin Frye, met with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at their church on Bammel Westfield Road that same day, while Shiflet said he referred the complaint to the Department of Family Protective Services.

….

Bratton has been excommunicated and is no longer receiving a salary from the church, Wright said.

“This person’s life is in such a contradiction to the faith that we see no evidence that they are a Christian,” he continued.

Bratton worked at the Old River Baptist Church in Dayton from 2004 to 2007. He now lists himself as unemployed on his LinkedIn profile.

The pastors declined to talk about Bratton’s family other than to say he was no longer living with his wife and their seven children. Court records show an emergency protection order was granted in the case.

….

Grace Family Baptist, a Calvinistic Southern Baptist congregation,  released the following statement:

We are aware of the situation regarding Stephen Bratton and the charges that have been filed against him and of his arrest on June 14th.

Stephen Bratton confessed to Erin Frye and Aaron Wright, both pastors at the church, of sexually abusing a minor in an ongoing way for a number of years on May 16th.  This is the first time this had been brought to the attention of the pastors.

This activity is wrong according to Biblical and civil law and the church condemns the behavior as abhorrent.

The elders immediately filed a police report with Harris County Sheriff’s Office the same day, May 16th.  As the weeks followed the pastors continued to make contact with the detective because they desired the case to be brought forward so that justice would be served.   Once the case began we continued to cooperate fully throughout the investigation.

The elders have called upon Stephen Bratton to accept the full responsibility for his actions and to place himself at the mercy of the criminal justice system.

Stephen is no longer in a position of leadership at the church and is no longer receiving a salary.

Stephen Bratton was also excommunicated by the church the following Sunday, May 19th. Therefore he is no longer a member of the church.

Currently we are working to meet the needs of the family and the victim.

We have deep grief for the victim and have sought to respect the privacy and identity of the victim throughout this process.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Anthony Haynes Sentenced to Life in Prison

anthony haynes

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.

Previous posts about Cordell Jenkins, Anthony Haynes, and Kenneth Butler: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Cordell Jenkins Accused of Sex Trafficking Children, Black Collar Crime: Another Toledo Evangelical Pastor, Kenneth Butler, Accused of Sex Trafficking, Black Collar Crime: Three Toledo, Ohio Evangelical Pastors Indicted on Child Sex Trafficking Charges, Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Kenneth Butler Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Trafficking Charges, Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Cordell Jenkins Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking, Black Collar Crime: Wife and Stepdaughter of Pastor Anthony Haynes Accused of Kidnapping Victim, Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Anthony Haynes on Trial for Child Sex Trafficking, Black Collar Crime: Laura Lloyd Sentenced to 21 Months in Prison for Lying to Federal Prosecutors

In late 2017, Evangelical pastors Cordell Jenkins, Anthony Haynes, and Kenneth Butler were indicted on charges of conspiracy to sex traffic children. The indicted men were affiliated with Abundant Life Ministries and Greater Life Christian Center, both in Toledo, Ohio.

Since then, Jenkins and Butler pleaded guilty. Haynes, on the other hand, decided to roll the dice and take his case to trial. The Star Tribune reports:

A minister who promised a woman he’d take care of her daughter began having sex with the teenager daily and later encouraged two other pastors to have sex with her as well, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Anthony Haynes could face up to life in prison if he’s convicted of child sex trafficking and other charges. The two other Toledo-area pastors charged in the investigation have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors said during the opening of Haynes’ trial that he first had sex with the girl when she was 14. They said the evidence against him includes text messages, photos, voice mails and DNA evidence from his church where the girl said they often had sex.

Haynes’ attorney told jurors that the allegations are shocking, but there’s not enough evidence to prove the trafficking and conspiracy charges he faces.

Attorney Pete Wagner also said Haynes may have had a questionable relationship with the girl, but he didn’t coordinate or take part in trafficking her to the other ministers. He also said there was no paying for sex.

Prosecutors say the girl had a difficult childhood and was sexually abused by a relative.

Haynes pledged in front of his congregation to protect her and serve as a father figure, but he began grooming her for sex when she turned 14 and first forced her to perform sex acts in front of him, said Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney.

They had sex day after day, often at a motel or his church, the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo, and Haynes would give her cash, Freeman said.

After about a year, Haynes introduced her to Kenneth Butler, another pastor, and he also began having sex with her, Freeman said.

Sometimes, the two men joked about the arrangement, prosecutors said. One text shown in court that prosecutors say was sent by Butler to the girl said: “You better be nice and naked when I get there.”

Prosecutors said the girl next met Cordell Jenkins, a minister who founded his own church in Toledo and built a large following until it closed after his arrest.

The FBI has said in court documents that Jenkins had sex with two girls at his home, church office and a motel and often recorded the acts with his phone.

Haynes, prosecutors said, encouraged the relationship with Jenkins.

In March 2019, Haynes took the stand. The Toledo Blade reports:

Anthony Haynes sobbed as he took the stand in federal court Wednesday, claiming he was manipulated by a teenage girl and he took the fall for sexual relationships between her and two other pastors.

….

Federal prosecutors rested Wednesday morning and the case was turned over to Mr. Haynes’ defense attorneys, Peter Wagner and John Thebes, calling Mr. Haynes to the stand — where he denied having a sexual relationship with the girl or encouraging her to have sex with the other pastors.

Mr. Haynes testified Wednesday that the girl threatened the pastor, saying she would tell people he was molesting her if she did not get things — like a cell phone.

….

dditionally, he said he knew the girl was having sexual relations with Butler and Jenkins, and he lied to federal investigators because he “was covering up for people,” he said. He previously told investigators that he had sexual relations with the teenage girl, took nude photos of her, and sent nude photos of her — but that was a false statement, he testified on Wednesday.

“I was tired. People don’t know what I was dealing with. Outside looking in, I look like the biggest monster,” Mr. Haynes said.

“I’m not no freak, I’m not a pervert. I’m an innocent family man with flaws and issues and I’m trying to get back to my family and children,” he added before breaking down into tears.

Mr. Haynes testified he eventually closed his church because the “secrets” of Jenkins and Butler were becoming too much. He said he never reported the incident to police.

….

Federal prosecutor Alisa Sterling asked Mr. Haynes how his and Butler’s sperm both got onto a small carpet sample. Mr. Haynes said he and his wife had sexual relations at the church and Butler also had a key to the building.

Ms. Sterling also showed Mr. Haynes a series of text messages between him and the girl, including ones referencing them having sex at the church and her being sore following the act.

He could not recall sending her sexually explicit photos and said some messages were taken out of context. He also claimed his social media account was hacked when a conversation between the two consisted of a conversation about a threesome.

….

Earlier this week, prosecutors called a series of FBI agents involved in the case; the victim’s school guidance counselor; a family friend who purchased her an iPhone for her 17th birthday; Mr. Haynes’ co-defendant, Kenneth Butler; and the victim.

The now 19-year-old woman in the case outlined a lengthy history with the pastors beginning with Mr. Haynes when she was 14, she said Tuesday. She moved in with the Haynes family in 2014, she testified.

The woman — who provided poised and direct answers during questioning — said Mr. Haynes began having sex with her at his church when she was a teenager before later introducing her to pastors Kenneth Butler and Cordell Jenkins, encouraging her to engage in sex acts with them.

Haynes was found guilty in March 2019 on all charges.

Last Thursday, Haynes was sentenced to life in prison.

Haynes’ wife, Alisa Haynes, and step-daughter Alexis Fortune are charged with tempering with a witness, victim or informant. They each face 30 years in prison.

Evidently, the family that “preys” together stays together — in prison.

Black Collar Crime: IFB School Teacher David Beckner Accused of Sexual Abusing a Student

david beckner

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 Beckner, a former teacher at Gaylord Grace Baptist Christian School in Gaylord, Michigan, stands accused of sexually abusing a female student. The Gaylord Herald Times reports:

David Beckner, 51, of West Virginia was arraigned Thursday afternoon in 87th District Court on eight criminal sexual conduct charges for allegedly abusing a teen girl in 2006 and 2007 in Otsego County.

Brendan Curran, Otsego County prosecutor, said the official complaint by Michigan State Police was filed June 13 for sex offenses committed upon a teen in Otsego County.

“I have charged David Wayne Beckner (presently residing in West Virginia) with seven counts of CSC 3rd degree and one count of CSC 4th degree, for seven sexual penetrations and one touching of a minor child who was a student of Beckner’s at the time their relationship began,” Curran said in an email.

According to a Michigan State Police news release Thursday evening, Beckner resides in Morgantown, West Virginia, and turned himself in Thursday. The release also said Beckner worked for the Grace Baptist Church from September 2004 until June 2007 before moving out of state.

….

Brianna Kenyon, a former Grace Baptist student, alleges that Beckner abused her as a minor and has publicly shared her story.

“When I grew up in that church, we’re all so isolated from the real world that I always thought I was the only one in the world, let alone in my church, that had ever had anything sexual happen to them. I was so alone for years and years; it wasn’t until I was (into adulthood) that I realized it actually happens a lot.”

Kenyon, 29, said she reported Beckner years ago for criminal sexual conduct to police and to the school’s pastor, Jon Jenkins, in 2011.

In an email, Jenkins said, it would be “a favorable outcome if justice can be achieved for Brianna.” He said, “Grace Baptist Church has always, and continues to stand in favor of justice for the victim.”

Previous Herald Times Freedom of Information Act requests returned no reports from the pastor or church to police of the alleged abuse.

Kenyon said the prosecutor at that time opted to not pursue the case and it was dropped.

….

Early this year, Ruthy Nordgren, now an adult, shared her story with the Herald Times and others publicly.
Nordgren is also a former Grace Baptist student and teacher Aaron Willand was convicted in 2016 of abusing her in Washington state.

Nordgren said she is also pursuing charges in Otsego County for abuse that she said happened when she was a student.

“And when Ruthy messaged me (about sharing publicly in the news), I thought, what could it hurt,” Kenyon said. “I couldn’t really get any justice for myself, and I figured if someone could be helped by my story and (they can see) here’s a girl that survived, and I do live a normal life and I do treat others well and I didn’t use this as a reason to be another monster.”

Grace Baptist Church is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

According to the Gaylord Herald Times:

Beckner joins the growing list of people with ties to Grace Baptist Church and school who have been convicted or accused of sexually abusing minors in the last 17 years. Another teacher, a bus driver, youth conference guest speaker and former congregation members are among those already convicted or facing criminal sexual conduct charges.

Despite all of this, Jon Jenkins remains the pastor of Grace Baptist. Last May, Jenkins celebrated his thirty-third anniversary at the church. He has “much” to be grateful for. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

Aaron Willand story

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Missionary Mark Aderholt Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Assault

mark aderholt

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 December 2018, Southern Baptist missionary and denominational leader Mark Aderholt was indicted for allegedly assaulting a minor two decades ago.  In July 2018, the Baptist Press reported:

Mark Aderholt, a former employee of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and International Mission Board missionary, has been charged in Texas with sexually assaulting a teenager 21 years ago.

Aderholt, 46, was arrested July 3 in South Carolina and booked into the Tarrant County, Texas, jail July 9 on charges of sexual assault of a child under 17, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. He was released July 10 on bond.

The IMB told Baptist Press today (July 16) it learned in 2007 of allegations Aderholt had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old in 1996-97 while he was a 25-year-old student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served with the board from 2000-08.

The IMB conducted an internal investigation in 2007, and the matter was set to go before the board of trustees, “which, at that time, was the only group with the authority to terminate a member of our missionary personnel,” IMB spokesperson Julie McGowan said in written comments. But Aderholt resigned on his own “before the Board could vote on the recommendation from the investigative team that included both men and women,

The IMB has since changed its policies to allow a missionary to be terminated by “staff senior leadership,” McGowan said.

The IMB’s 2007 investigation, including two days of interviews with the alleged victim, led an IMB team to conclude at the time that Aderholt “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teen in 1996-1997, that the victim “suffered as a result” and that Aderholt “was not truthful” with the IMB “about the full extent of the relationship,” according to correspondence to Miller from IMB general counsel Derek Gaubatz published July 13 by the Star-Telegram.

The IMB did not report the incident to law enforcement at the time, McGowan said, because the victim — who has identified herself in a blog post and other forums as author and speaker Anne Marie Miller — said on multiple occasions that she did not want to make a report to police.

Miller “was a grown adult at that time, and we followed her lead,” McGowan said. “We were more than willing to support such action at that time, but she stated that her desire was not to file charges. While some want to exclusively call out IMB for not reporting, keep in mind that neither her parents, her husband at the time, two trained clinical counselors or several other friends with intimate details of what happened reported the matter to police, including several individuals who actually live in Texas where the alleged events took place. We can only assume they approached this matter in the same fashion we did: that, as an adult, this was Ms. Miller’s story to share with local authorities when she was ready. We fully support her taking this step now, and we are cooperating with authorities.”

….

Aderholt’s offense allegedly occurred in Arlington, Texas, in 1997, according to the Star-Telegram, and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. An Arlington police spokeswoman told the Star-Telegram she could not release additional information about the case.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary confirmed to BP that Aderholt was a student at the seminary when the crime allegedly was committed. He graduated in 2000 with a master of divinity degree.

The South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) released a statement June 19 announcing Aderholt had resigned after a year and a half as the convention’s associate executive director and chief strategist and that SCBC executive director Gary Hollingsworth received the resignation with “a heavy heart.” The initial statement did not, however, give a reason for the resignation.

After the Star-Telegram reported Aderholt’s arrest, Hollingsworth said in a statement released to BP July 10, “In light of recent news related to Mr. Aderholt, our hearts are grieved and our prayers are with everyone involved.” Hollingsworth told South Carolina’s Baptist Courier newsjournal, “Our hearts are grieved, but we are trusting the authorities.”

Today, Aderholt, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury.  The Houston Chronicle reports:

The judge placed Aderholt on 24 months of deferred adjudication, a form of probation that will not leave a conviction on his record if he successfully completes the term. He was also ordered to spend 30 days in jail beginning Tuesday evening and to pay a $4,000 fine. He prohibited Aderholt from having any form of contact with Miller.

Aderholt’s lawyer, Justin Sparks, stated: “Mark has maintained his innocence from day one. After a probationary term, it ends with a dismissal. Mark agreed to this result because the original allegations were abandoned and for closure.”

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor John Martin Charged with Sexually Abusing Children

pastor john 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.

John “J” Martin, father of five and pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Florence, Alabama, stands accused of sexually abusing several children. Lighthouse Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

AL.com reports:

John Martin, a 41-year-old from Florence, is held in the Lauderdale County jail with bail set at $60,000. Martin recently resigned after nine years as the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Florence.

On June 23, Martin resigned and admitted to church members that he had inappropriate relationships with young men, said Angie Hamilton, an assistant district attorney in Lauderdale County. Church members told the authorities about the admission, and a criminal investigation began.

….

“We have identified several potential victims,” Hamilton said. “We believe other charges are forthcoming.”

Martin is charged with four counts of first-degree sexual abuse, records show. Hamilton said those charges involve a victim younger than 16. Court records weren’t yet publicly available Monday afternoon.

Prosecutors and investigators are asking anyone with information to come forward. They say Martin worked as a pastor in other states before joining Lighthouse in Florence.

“We believe there may be other young people that he may have had contact with,” Hamilton said.

Kudos to the church for reporting Martin to law enforcement. Sadly, it is not uncommon for IFB churches to fire offending pastors and shove allegations under the proverbial rug. That the church acted immediately and decisively deserves praise, albeit I am not sure how much praise is necessary for doing what decent, caring people should do.

According to the church’s doctrinal statement:

Human Sexuality

1. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance. (Genesis 2:24, 19:5, 13, 26:8-9; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1: 26-29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4)

2. We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 5:22-23)

Evidently, Martin didn’t practice what he preached. I know, I know, shocking, right? (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

Church Facebook page

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Arthur Ivey Charged with Sex Crimes

pastor arthur ivey

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.

Arthur “A. Louis” Ivey, pastor of Friendship Primitive Baptist Church in Quincy, Florida and an employee of the Gadsen County School District, stands accused of inappropriately touching three minors.  The Tallahassee Democrat reports:

Arthur Ivey, 59, is being held at Gadsden County jail with no bond. Ivey is a preacher at Friendship Primitive Baptist Church.

On Jan. 3, according to court documents, three children went to a child welfare facility and said they were touched by Ivey inappropriately.

Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office investigators responded to the alleged sexual battery of the three minors. Each child was interviewed and asked to recount the assaults.

At least one of the children said the assaults had gone on for nearly two years, court documents say.

After being read his Miranda Rights, Ivey told deputies he “wrestled” with the children which could have resulted in him “unintentionally touching the children inappropriately.”

Black Collar Crime: ‘Biblical Flat Earth Society’ Founder Phillip Stallings Accused of Child Porn Crimes

phillip stallings

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

Last Friday, Phillip Stallings, a Fundamentalist Calvinist and the founder of the Biblical Flat Earth Society, was arrested and charged with 56 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. ABC-11 reports:

A Durham man faces 56 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after officials found him in possession of child pornography.

During a joint investigation by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, officials found 40-year-old Phillip Stephen Stallings downloaded media that involved minors engaging in sexual activities.

He was arrested on Wednesday and charged with 28 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 28 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

He was also served with outstanding warrants for financial card theft and cyberstalking.

Stallings was booked into the Durham County Detention Center.

On Thursday, the judge raised his secured bond to $500,000.

WRAL-5 adds:

Stallings was arrested at his home Wednesday morning by Durham County deputies as part of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation.

“[It’s] part of an investigation across the nation right now for possession of child pornography and creation of child pornography,” Durham County Assistant District Attorney Kendra Montgomery-Blinn said during a brief court hearing Thursday morning. “They had information that Mr. Stallings was sharing his materials on a social media platform.”

Authorities searched his computer and found sexually explicit images, Montgomery-Blinn said. The search is ongoing, and more charges could be filed, she added.

….

A judge raised Stallings’ bond from $341,000 to $500,000 because of the number of charges against him and the nature of the charges. If Stallings posts bond, he is prohibited from any contact with children and from using any computers or other devices that would allow him to collect any photos or videos.

Stallings was convicted of several offenses between 1996 and 2008, including assault on a female, false imprisonment, credit card fraud, theft, assault on an officer and impaired driving, according to state Department of Public Safety records.

According to Stallings’ personal website, he is a “reformed Christian Apologist, Theonomist, Kinist and a former seminary student.” In a March 2016 post, Stallings cryptically wrote:

I have sinned. Even more, I have sinned online regarding my actions towards others in private messages. I have never denied my sin in acting disgracefully online. The sinful and wicked actions I committed are without question a horrible blight upon the name of Christ, the Church, and were harmful to the families and those that are my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

One thing became clear to me when I was not able to reach the ones I had offended and twas to make a public statement regarding this. This is now offered to those that were hurt and offended by my sinful actions and should serve as a public statement that I have openly acknowledged my sin. I openly confess that my actions were sinful and sincerely would ask for those that were offended by me for their forgiveness. Ultimately, I have sinned against God and I am ashamed of how I have acted towards Him.

While there is little I can do today regarding my past wickedness outside of this public apology, I can admit it was wrong and sincerely ask for forgiveness. I have repented and I need your prayers for me going forward. My life is not over and I wish to only do that which is right now. That is all I can do and hope that for those that have been offended by me, you will read this, forgive me, and seek to pray for me.

….

Stallings doesn’t mention what it was that he was sorry for. I will leave it to readers to make their own conclusions about Stallings’ “sins.”

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor John Ward Arrested on Rape Charges

pastor john ward

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

John Ward, pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake, Louisiana, stands accused of 10 counts of first-degree rape, 40 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, and two counts of pornography involving a juvenile.

KFLY reports:

A tip led to an investigation and arrest of a 45-year-old Westlake man on multiple sex crime charges involving juveniles.

An anonymous called contacted the state Dept. of Child & Family Services’ tip line. On June 17, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested John Michael Ward.

Ward reportedly admitted to detectives he had been molesting an 11-year-old girl since 2017 when she was 9 years old. Ward reportedly also told detectives he videoed the victim while she was nude on two separate occasions, authorities said.

….

District Judge Sharon Wilson set Ward’s bond at $640,000.

Bellview Baptist released the following statement:

Bellview Baptist Church leaders are cooperating fully with the Sheriff’s office in the investigation. The Deacons, in consultation with Carey Baptist Association, unanimously voted to immediately terminate Ward’s employment with the congregation because of his sexual immorality and failure to maintain the high standard of integrity for the office of Pastor outlined in the Bible.

Church leaders immediately met with the victim’s family to minister to them in their grief and to offer to help underwrite the counseling needed to help the child and other members of the household to heal.

The Deacons also offered to continue to provide financial support to the wife of the fired pastor as well as to minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of her and her family.

The Carey Baptist Association and the Louisiana Baptist Convention have connected with church leaders to coordinate various resources that are available to the church in meeting these various commitments.

Bellview Baptist Church leaders request prayer, respect, and privacy as we process this traumatic event.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Stephen Houlihan Accused of Sex Crimes

stephen houlihan

Stephen Houlihan, communications pastor at Fellowship of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado, stands accused of sending sexually explicit messages and pictures to a teenage church girl and exploiting his relationship with her.

The Gazette reports:

Stephen Houlihan, 28, was arrested June 7 on suspicion of attempted sexual assault of a child under 15 by one in a position of trust, internet luring of a child with intent to exploit and wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor, all felonies, court records show. He posted $30,000 bond Monday.

….

The girl’s family told police they had known Houlihan as a pastor for four to five years and trusted Houlihan, the affidavit says. The family went camping with Houlihan and his wife over Memorial Day weekend, and had gone to Mexico with them the last three years to build houses.

In a June 6 interview with police, the girl said she had met Houlihan at church, where he “does media and is a pastor who sometimes preaches on Sundays,” the affidavit says. She turned 16 in May.

The girl told police that their relationship changed recently — “they had been talking and became closer and now Stephen wanted more to do with her,” the affidavit says. Then for her birthday, she went to his house to play games, and after that, he said “he wanted to start doing more than hanging out.”

They kissed on multiple occasions, and Houlihan told the girl he wanted to have sex with her, the affidavit says.

Houlihan and the girl primarily communicated on Instagram.

He sent her a pictures of his genitals before her birthday “because he wanted her to be happy and feel special,” the affidavit says.

The morning of June 5, the girl’s mother discovered the messages on her daughter’s phone and felt betrayed because the family knew him, the affidavit says.

During an interview with police, Houlihan said that he and the girl had known each other for years, but “they had grown close in the last month to month and a half, becoming best friends, being able to tell each other everything,” the affidavit says. He admitted sending her suggestive messages, which he called a “mistake,” and that he had sent her “more than one and less than five” pictures of his genitals.

He admitted kissing her twice on her birthday — once when he picked her up and once when he took her home — and said that the girl “wanted to go all the way with him,” the affidavit says.

Houlihan began working at the church as a communications designer in June 2013, according to what appears to be his LinkedIn page. He apparently left in September 2015 before returning in January 2017 to be a worship pastor. He became a communications pastor in January 2018.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Anderson H. Martin Indicted on Sexual Assault Charges

pastor anderson h 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.

Anderson H. Martin, pastor of Greater Tabernacle of Faith Apostolic Church in Bluefield, West Virginia, was indicted last week on sexual assault charges involving an 25-year-old man with a mental capacity of a 12-year-old.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports:

Martin is the pastor of the Greater Tabernacle of Faith Apostolic Church located at the corner of Preston and Bland streets, Detective-Sgt. K.L. Adams, with the Bluefield Police Department, said.

Adams said the victim is a 25-year-old male, but has the mental capacity of a 10- to 12- year-old.

The incident involving the charges occurred in March when the defendant picked the victim up at his residence to “take him out,” according to a criminal complaint filed by Adams.

Adams said the victim and his family thought they would be going out to play video games or shopping.

Instead, Adams said in his complaint that Martin took the victim to his residence where he made him shower and then molested him under the guise of teaching him how to wash himself properly.

In the criminal complaint, Adams said Martin admitted during an interview that he picked up the victim “with intent to bring him to his home to take a bath.”

“Martin said he had to explain to (the victim) how to wash his body,” including his genitals, Adams stated in the complaint. “Martin denied ever touching (the victim) during this.”

Adams’ report also noted that a sexual assault examination was performed on the victim that showed signs of penetration.

Martin’s church bio page states:

Apostle Anderson Martin Sr. was born in McDowell County to Bishop Louise Johnson and was a member of Zion Temple of the Heavenly Sunlight church under the leadership of Bishop Almeta Price and Bishop Hattie Morrison, where he was a Bass guitar player and a member of the Fantastic Harmoneers. Apostle Martin was baptized in the name of Jesus according to Acts 2:38. In 1988 Apostle Martin was called into the ministry, after being in the ministry for 10 yrs Apostle Martin was lead by God to take his ministry a step further, He opened up his first church in Bluefield, West Virginia. Tabernacle of Faith , with not many members at the time Apostle and First lady still pressed their way to church and said that he was preaching to the angels in the seats, keeping the Faith that God would fill the house.