Tag Archive: Child Abuse

Black Collar Crime: Presbyterian Pastor Walter Chuquimia Charged With Sexual Battery

walter chuquimia

Walter Chuquimia, pastor of Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma, Florida was arrested yesterday and charged with three counts of sexual battery. Chuquimia allegedly sexually abused a girl for six years, beginning when the girl was eleven years old.  Fox-13 reports:

Walter Chuquimia, 59, was arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office after detectives said they found Chuquimia raped a 17-year-old on April 24, 2017.

During their investigation, detectives found the suspect has sexually battered the victim several times dating back to 2011.

HCSO said Chuquimia was the pastor at Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, Inc. during part of this time. Detectives said Chuquimia admitted to several of the offenses and was arrested and booked on April 24, 2017.

He was charged with three counts of sexual battery.

Detectives have not identified other victims, however, anyone with information concerning Chuquimia is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 813-247-8200.

According to Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, Inc.’s Facebook page, the church’s focus is giving assistance to farm workers and their extended family members through worship with the Hispanic community.

Chuquimia’s bio on Beth-El Farmworker Ministry’s website states:

Rev. Walter F. Chuquimia is a native of Bolivia, South America, and is a child born in a non-Catholic household.  His grandfather was a descendant of the Inca Empire and the first Bolivian native ordained onto the ministry.   Pastor Walter has two brothers and a sister graduated from Theological Seminaries in the United States. He remains in touch with his mother, brothers and a sister living in his native Bolivia.   In Bolivia he had earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education, and though in rural area elementary schools.   Walter attended Universidad Adventista de Centroamerica (Central American Adventist University) in Alajuela, Costa Rica. He worked as Bible Teacher and Literature Evangelist in several Central American Countries. In the United States he graduated from McCormick theological Seminary with Mater of Divinity Degree.  Walter was ordained in 1996 at his hometown church, Valley Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale, Arizona, Grand Canyon Presbytery.

Walter played professional soccer for Alajuela Football Club, Costa Rica.  In United States encouraged by elders of his first congregation he had learn to play golf and racquetball, his daily routine includes outdoor walking or biking.   Walter has an excellent command of the English and Spanish language, an effective public speaker and skilled translator from English to Spanish and vice versa. He is sensitive and respectful of the long-standing traditions of the church and community; open enough to a dialogue that can invigorate our worship and service to the Lord. Formal education received in South America, Central America, Puerto Rico and in the United States of America.

Walter is married to Lorraine, raising together a daughter and son, and is also a very proud father of Kelly Adelina Chuquimia (Arizona) and Sally Maria Chuquima  (Pennsylvania), whose mother is also a pastor.

Rev. Walter Chuquimia is the pastor of the worshiping community at Beth-El Mission.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Tim Omotoso Accused of Sexual Molesting Young Women

tim omotoso

Tim Omotoso, pastor of multi-branch Jesus Dominion International Church in Durban, South Africa, has been accused of sexually molesting young women. As of the writing of this post, Omotoso has not been arrested or charged with any crime.[Please see updates below.] He remains under investigation.  The Herald Live reports:

A young Port Elizabeth woman has claimed she is among a group of victims allegedly molested by a popular Durban pastor who is being investigated by the Hawks for suspected sex crimes.

Social media has been abuzz with the claims against the widely celebrated pastor in the wake of a TV feature in which the allegations were made by a number of women who have had contact with him during his ministerial work.

The 25-year-old Port Elizabeth woman alleges she was molested at the age of 14 during an incident in Durban. She alleges she was summoned into an office where the pastor rubbed himself against her.

While police are not looking for the 58-year-old pastor as yet, the Hawks say they have been investigating a number of alleged sexual violence cases against him for months now.

The news comes in the wake of a special television feature on the pastor recently.

….

Speaking about the alleged incident that occurred when she was a teenager, the Port Elizabeth woman said: “There was talk among the girls regarding ‘the rod of Moses’, but I did not know what it meant.

“But one day I innocently remarked during music rehearsals that I also wanted this rod of Moses.

“Immediately, he [the pastor] summoned me to his office.”

The woman claimed she had been asked there if she wanted the “rod of Moses” and she responded that she no longer did.

“He [the pastor] came closer to me, saying it was nice,” she said.

“He hugged me and rubbed [against] me with his lower body … I felt very uncomfortable and began to sob.”

The woman said the pastor had asked her what she wanted from God and she had replied that she needed to be blessed.

She alleged that he had handed her R1 000, which she refused, but he had insisted that she take the money and give it to a relative.

The woman claimed that the pastor targeted females, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, to whom he promised a better life.

She said the majority of his alleged victims were attracted to his church because of the “miracles” he claimed to perform.

“He loves girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. He creates a ploy to be a father figure to them,” she said.

She claimed the pastor would preach a sermon about sex and would ask “me to stand up, saying look how beautiful I look”.

When a reporter visited the ministry’s Port Elizabeth church yesterday, a number of people were inside, praying.

Most of the congregants refused to speak, except one woman who had joined the church in 2002.

Asked about the allegations, she said: “We can’t speak about what the pastor is accused of. It is not up to us to judge.”

Another congregant, when asked for the pastor’s cellphone number, said: “You can’t call him. He is a man of God.”

But she said the allegations made in the TV feature were rubbish.

“Where is the evidence? They must show us the evidence.”

She said the claims were orchestrated by other pastors within the church who wanted to oust the pastor at the centre of the allegations.

….

Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities chairwoman Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said churches were supposed to be a safe space.

“We have a serious problem of rape culture in this country and if it is happening in church, we have a much bigger problem.”

She said the commission had finalised its report into the commercialisation of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems.

“We will brief parliament on the report over two days in June,” Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

“We need a peer review mechanism to put an end to this.

“When pastors do something wrong, they can be held accountable and removed from the register.”

She said among their recommendations was the vetting of pastors and traditional healers.

“Right now, we could have a pastor with a sexual violence background leading a church, or a Sunday school teacher who just wants access to children.”

According to Omotoso’s website:

Tim Omotoso Global Outreach (T.O.G.O) is an Apostolic and Prophetic ministry designed under Trinitarian auspices to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ to this generation with signs following. As result of Tim Omotoso’s obedience to the high calling of God, the ministry has been able to transform the lives of countless people around the globe. Through global crusades, ministrations, Church services and TV ministry, the unadulterated Word of God is preached to all. T.O.G.O is a ministry of great wisdom, revelation, power, prayer and praise without compromise. It is the umbrella to the church arm, of Jesus Dominion International (JDI); Youth Empowerment Project and Help the Helpless. T.O.G.O not only believes in winning billions of souls into the kingdom of God, but also challenges believers to rise up as Sons of God and utilize the authority and divine power given to them through Christ Jesus.

Tim Omotoso is a Prophet and as part of his unique call he holds meetings entitled “Holy Ghost Clinic” these “clinics” are live counselling sessions which reveal the mysteries that hold keys to the success of individuals. The root causes of issues and problems are also diagnosed. These meetings are an exposition of the wiles of the enemy in the life of believers. People have been healed, restored, delivered and received solutions in meetings such as “Holy Ghost Clinic,” “House of Jacob,” and many more. Tim Omotoso is the founder of ADBN (Ancient of Day Broadcasting Network) and has written a Prayer Bonanza book which contains powerful and targeted prayer points, he also writes daily devotionals annually. His television broadcast is entitled “Just as I am.” He is happily married to Taiwo and they are blessed with three Children, Victoria, John and Victor.

Update

Sunday World reports: (link no longer active)

Controversial Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso has hired prominent Port Elizabeth defence attorney Alwyn Griebenow to represent him in the face of allegations that he sexually molested young girls at his home in Umhlanga‚ Durban.

Griebenow confirmed that he was Omotoso’s attorney and that he and defence advocate Terry Price will be meeting with the Hawks on Thursday afternoon in Port Elizabeth. The Hawks are investigating the allegations against Omotoso.

Omotoso‚ of the Jesus Dominion International Church in Durban‚ is accused of molesting more than 30 young girls on the pretext of rescuing them from drugs.

The Nigerian evangelist came under scrutiny after his church featured on current affairs programme Special Assignment on Sunday. The programme spoke to women who claimed that they were lured into performing sexual favours for the pastor.

Update #2

The Herald Live reports:

Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso was arrested by the Hawks Human Trafficking unit in Port Elizabeth on Thursday on a charge of alleged human trafficking‚ the elite police unit confirmed.

Omotoso was arrested shortly after arriving at the Port Elizabeth international airport by the Hawks and members of the South African Police Service’s Tactical Response Team (TRT) this afternoon [20/04/17].

“The 58-year-old pastor allegedly trafficked young women and girls from various branches of his church to a house in uMhlanga‚ Kwazulu-Natal‚ where he allegedly exploited them sexually‚” Hawks spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda said.

Update #3

Video Link

Update #4

The City Press reports:

Hundreds of worshippers from Jesus Domination International church, where Timothy Omotoso is the head pastor and prophet, filled the Port Elizabeth Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

They came in support of Omotoso, who was nabbed dramatically by the Hawks with a heavy contingent of the Tactical Response Team (TRT unit), shortly after he landed at the local airport with his three escorts on Thursday afternoon.

He has been accused of sexually abusing women who worked at the churches he managed in South Africa.

….

Omotoso’s supporters came wearing purple-banded gold medals around their necks, holding placards with messages of support for him.

….

An unidentified woman inside the court said they believed that Omotoso’s exposé was an inside job.

“The people who are responsible for this are unruly members of the church that do not want to be changed by the man of God,” she said.

“If Omotoso was a sexual offender, why didn’t he sleep with the multitudes of international prostitutes that have been coming in and out of his church?” she said.

She said all the prophets across the world were fasting for Omotoso.

“God will show them wonders, the blood is at work.”

….

A member of the Hawks discreetly confirmed to City Press that Omotoso was not planning to hand himself over on Thursday.

“We found him in possession of return air tickets for four people,” said the member.

“It is clear that he had no intention of handing himself over as we were expecting him to.”

Netshiunda also confirmed that if they had not applied their own instincts and ambushed Omotoso, he would have slipped away.

“We were misled into believing that his flight was delayed,” said Netshiunda.

“When we reached the airport his flight was on schedule and he attempted to escape, but only ended up in the toilet, where we found him locked in the cubicle,” he said.

….

His Port Elizabeth lawyer is Alwyn Griebenow, who also represents Christopher Panayiotou – who has been charged with the murder and conspiracy to murder his wife, Jayde, two years ago.

An application for bail was made by Griebenow on behalf of his client, who was remanded until May 3, when an official bail application will be formally heard in Court 22.

The state, represented by Zelda Swanepoel, stated that more evidence was to be compiled from the different provinces where Omotoso is alleged to have committed the alleged crimes.

The remand was met with deep sighs of disappointment and sobs from his supporters.

“Daddy! We love you Daddy,” sobbed the worshippers, as Omotoso was led out of court by the TRT unit.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Steven Waller Charged With Sexual Battery of a Minor

steven waller

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.

Steven Waller, pastor of Dover First Church of the Nazarene in Dover, Tennessee, was charged today with “aggravated sexual battery involving a minor.” Fox-17 Nashville reports:

The Stewart County Sheriff’s Office said a man was charged after having sexual contact with a girl while she was sleeping.

Steven Waller, 51, is charged with aggravated sexual battery involving a minor. Waller is a pastor at the Dover First Church of the Nazarene.

Investigators said Waller admitted during an interview to having sexual contact with a girl under the age of 18 while she was sleeping. The day of the interview he was charged with aggravated sexual battery and bond was set at $75,000.

Waller’s bond was reduced to $60,000 during an appearance in General Sessions Court with conditions that he gets no new charges before his trial and that he has no contact with children under the age of 18, including the victim.

Dover Nazarene Facebook page

Black Collar Crime: Woman Claims Evangelical Pastor Mike Holloway Knew She Had Been Sexually Abused and Did Nothing

dawn price

Dawn Price

Temple Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church (IFB) located in Kokomo, Indiana is under scrutiny as authorities investigate claims of physical and sexual abuse by people associated with the church and its school — Temple Christian School.  Mike Holloway is the church’s current pastor. As of the writing of this post, no charges have been filed or arrests made. The Kokomo Perspective began a series of articles this week on Temple Baptist and the allegations against them. Today’s article, which is excerpted below,  features Dawn Price. a women who alleges she was sexually abused years ago while attending Temple Baptist Church:

Through a heartfelt reading of a letter she wrote to her parents at the behest of a counselor, [Dawn] Price detailed her painful childhood while choking back tears. In just under 15 minutes, she described the alleged sexual abuse she claims to have endured at the hands of her father, Donald Croddy, who sources say served in various capacities around children at Temple Baptist Church.

Adopted at the age of 5, and now 45, Price claims her father began grooming her shortly after she and her brother were brought into the Croddy home in Kokomo.

“You made naptime and playing house with daddy normal,” said Price in her video. “You took away my innocence. No child should know about sex or orgasms. You have no idea how you screwed up my sexual development.”

Price alleges the abuse ranged from inappropriate touching to Croddy making her watch him masturbate, until it eventually progressed.

“By the time I was 9 or 10, in the fourth grade, you wanted more,” said Price in her video. “This is when my abuse became full sexual intercourse. Later that night I told mom I was bleeding down there, and I was told it was just my period and was sent to school with a paper bag full of maxi pads. It wasn’t my period, and I stopped bleeding after few days. And it was never mentioned again.”

While she said the sexual abuse at the hands of her father stopped when she was about 12, Price’s video acted as a catalyst, with multiple victims coming forward to claim they were sexually abused by Croddy. More than that, multiple individuals claim Mike Holloway, the pastor of Temple Baptist Church where the Croddys attended church, knew about Price’s abuse and still allowed him to work within the church and around children.

Also, Price went so far as to provide screenshots of texts with her mother, Elfriede, which may be a confession that she knew about her husband’s alleged sexual abuse of Price. In one text, in response to Price saying the church may be liable for any potential victims of her father, Elfriede wrote, “… we have ask forgiveness we don’t bother you why now.” Elfriede also appears to go on to deny Price’s allegations soon after.

As of last week, three women went on the record with the Kokomo Perspective claiming Croddy had sexually abused them in his home. One chose to remain anonymous. Another elected to go by only her first name. Price elected to allow her story to be told with her name attached. All of the alleged victims that went on the record bare certain similarities. They are all beyond the statute of limitations in Indiana for criminal charges to be pressed against Croddy; however, they all wanted their stories told. And, commonly, they’d all kept their childhood experiences largely to themselves, until recently, for reasons ranging from a fear of Croddy to the belief that since he was so active at the church no one would believe them.

“I want it stopped, and I want him held accountable,” said Price. “I don’t want there to be any more victims. That’s my main goal, to make sure there aren’t any more victims. I feel like if I don’t speak out at this point, if there are more victims, then that’s my fault too.”

….

One source of angst for Price is that Holloway, the pastor at Temple Baptist Church, knew about Croddy abusing her.

According to her, on Monday, Aug. 26, 1991, she was traveling around town with her father and her then-fiancé Andrew Thornton. At the time, she was 19. Thornton was 21, and the pair were set to be married in just five days. In the final phase of preparing to move to Thornton’s hometown in Texas after the wedding, the group was in the process of helping Price take care of final arrangements prior to the move, like closing her bank account.

Price claims that as she exited a local credit union, she came upon her father repeatedly striking Thornton. As she said she later found out—and Thornton corroborated the claim in a separate interview—Thornton had confronted Croddy about his alleged abuse of Price.

“Dad said, ‘I don’t approve of this marriage. We’re going to the church, and I’m telling the pastor right now.’ I was like,’Why?’” said Price. “And Andy said, ‘Because I told him I know what he did to you.’”

Not long after, the group located Holloway in Temple Baptist Church for an impromptu meeting, according to Price and Thornton. Price said she told Holloway her father was fighting with her fiancé because she told Thornton about her childhood abuse.

“Holloway looked at me. Then he looked at Andy. And he looked at my dad, and he said, ‘Is it true? Did you do what she’s claiming?’ said Price. “And [Croddy] said, ‘Yes, I did, but that’s in the past.’”

Even though Thornton and Price eventually divorced, with Thornton remaining in Texas and Price eventually settling in Ohio, he corroborated her account of that day’s events in 1991. In his recollection, he even said he believed Holloway already knew about Croddy’s past abuse of his daughter.

“He was aware of it that day for sure, but he was aware of it before that because he basically said, ‘I’ve dealt with Donald on this. It’s been forgiven,’” said Thornton. “He basically said bad things about Dawn as well, like she was a bad kid in high school or whatever, so I’m not going to take her word for any of it. He basically just disregarded what she was saying and went with the person that’s donating money to the church is the way I felt.”

According to both Price and Thornton, Holloway asked Croddy if he would be able to not “cause a scene” at his daughter’s wedding. However, he allegedly told the pastor he wasn’t sure if he wouldn’t. So, the pair claim Holloway canceled the wedding just days ahead of time. As a result, they eloped and moved to Texas together.

Since Price’s video has come out, others have come forward to make various claims about interactions with Holloway that made them believe the pastor was aware of Croddy’s alleged tendencies.

Mary Bell was raising multiple teenagers while attending Temple Baptist Church. According to her, Holloway warned the mother of three that Croddy was a pedophile in either 1997 or 1998 when her children were participating in a church fund raiser.

According to Bell, the children were broken down into groups for the fund raiser, and some were assigned to work at the Croddy household. However, Bell claims she was pulled aside by Holloway at the church and told not to allow her teenage daughters around Croddy.

“They would work with people around the church and their homes, and we chose the Croddys,” said Bell. “All three of my children were teens at the time working for the Croddys outside. When I went back to the church Mike Holloway pulled me away and said that I should not have my children over there at that house because he is being accused of being a pedophile. So, I need to get my children away from him. So I did.”

Others maintain that after the alleged events just prior to Price and Thornton’s wedding in 1991, Croddy was allowed to be around children in various capacities within the church.

Tabitha Dodd, a former fifth-and sixth-grade teacher at Temple Baptist Academy, said she had seen Croddy help around the church day care, playground, and other activities where children were present as recent as 10 years ago.

“He would be at the church in various capacities whenever the preacher needed help. He would do stuff, I can remember, with the fall festival,” said Dodd. “He would do the tractor rides and different things whenever the men would help out in the church … He would do stuff with the day care kids in the back. The day care has a playground in the back of the church.”

….

The Kokomo Perspective attempted to speak with Holloway about the allegation that he knew about Croddy’s alleged sexual abuse of his daughter and still allowed him to work around children. In response, Temple Baptist Church issued the following statement:

“Concerning the allegations that have recently surfaced, we are currently looking into the matter. We have cooperated with and will continue to cooperate with the authorities. We have no further comment at this time.”

Multiple attempts to contact Croddy were unsuccessful.

Price provided a text from her mother, which showed that since her video was released her parents had been kicked out of Temple Baptist Church.

You can read the entire article by Devin Zimmerman here.

Black Collar Crime: Convicted Child Molester Ken Adkins Says He’s Innocent

pastor ken adkins

Please see Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ken Adkins Turns Down Plea Deal and Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ken Adkins Found Guilty of Sexual Molestation for further information on Adkins and his crimes.

Last week, News 4-JAX reported that child molester Ken Adkins, pastor of Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship in Brunswick, Georgia denies committing the crimes for which he was convicted:

Speaking from jail, Brunswick Pastor Ken Adkins said he is still shocked that a jury found him guilty of eight charges connected to the molestation of two teenagers in 2010.

Adkins called News4Jax from the Glynn County Jail late Friday afternoon, saying he feels like he’s in a dream or a nightmare and somebody’s going to wake him up.

As a pastor, as a bishop, I am mad with life and I am angry with God,” Adkins said.

After a six-day trial, the Glynn County jury deliberated for less than an hour Monday before finding Adkins guilty of all charges.

During the phone call, Adkins did express remorse, but not for the crimes a jury said he committed. He maintains that all the other accusations against him are not true.

“I did not molest any children. I did not touch anybody, I didn’t have oral sex with anybody. I didn’t allow anybody to have oral sex with me. I did not do those things,” Adkins said.

He said he is sorry for some inappropriate photos and texts he sent to the female victim in this case, but he said that happened four to six years after the crimes he’s accused of committing.

“Do you feel that there was a hidden agenda here?” News4Jax asked by phone.

Adkins replied, “Yes ma’am. I most certainly (do).”

He believes the guilty verdict was reached based on emotions, not facts, saying he was convicted in part because he’s been so outspoken against the LGBT community, and that the male accuser — who is gay — wanted revenge.

In the conversation, Adkins offered an apology to the LGBT community. After spending time with transgender families last summer for a documentary, he said, he realized he’s gone about presenting his beliefs all wrong and has since apologized for the viral videos and online degradation of gay people.

Perhaps, Adkins said, this is why he’s now facing a life sentence.

“If it’s God’s will that I spend the rest of my life in prison, then I have no choice but to accept that. I don’t believe it is. I did not do it, and I’m going to fight until I have a last breath to gain my freedom once again,” he said.

Adkins also said one sexually explicit photo he sent by text to the male victim centered around questions the teen had about circumcision.

Update #1

Adkins was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison. CBS-47 reports:

Georgia pastor Ken Adkins, convicted earlier this month of allowing teens to have sex while he watched, was sentenced Monday morning to 35 years in prison.

Adkins, 57, will serve life on probation after serving the 35 year sentence.

Prosecutors said Adkins was sexually involved with teenagers he met through church. Allegations of sexual molestation surfaced after one of the teenage boys joined the military.

The state says the young man, now in his 20s, told police he had been molested by Adkins.

“He would let them use his locations his office, his house, his cars, places where they could have sex, where he could watch,” prosecutor Katie Gropper told the jury.

Adkins had been held without bail in a Georgia jail since August 2016. At one point, Adkins solicited $10,000 for his defense from his congregation via a Facebook post.

ken adkins defense fund

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Cordell Jenkins Accused of Sex Trafficking Children

cordell jenkins

Toledo, Ohio pastor Cordell Jenkins was arrested today and accused of “knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, and transporting people they knew were younger than 18 years old to engage in commercial sex acts.” Jenkins, the pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo, is also the husband of Lucas County Administrator Laura Lloyd-Jenkins. The Toledo Blade reports:

The Rev. Cordell Jenkins, 46, and Anthony Haynes, 37, were taken into custody early today at their Toledo residences without incident, according to the FBI.

Both Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Haynes are accused of knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, and transporting people they knew were younger than 18 years old to engage in commercial sex acts, federal officials said.

Reverend Jenkins is the founder and pastor for Abundant Life Ministries, 5025 Glendale Ave., according to the church’s website. The church website lists Lucas County Administrator Laura Lloyd-Jenkins as Mr. Jenkins’ wife. A Lucas County official confirmed today Mr. Jenkins is married to Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins.

Mr. Jenkins is also being charged with sexual exploitation of children while Mr. Haynes is being charged with obstruction of justice. Both men have their initial appearance in U.S. District Court today.

“We have charged two individuals, but not with any affiliation with the church,” said FBI spokesperson Vicki Anderson.

….

Ms. Anderson said the FBI received information a few weeks ago regarding allegations of the sexual misconduct involving minors and began an investigation. The crimes are alleged to have occurred over a few years, she said.

Ms. Anderson said she could not provide the victims’ ages or where they were from. Law enforcement officials arrested the two men about 9 a.m. at their residences.

Star Academy of Toledo, a kindergarten through 8th grade public charter school, shares a space with the church. The school was not placed on lock down, but bus pick up was moved from the east side of the building to the west side, where police vehicles were located.

“As a parent, I would be concerned, but all of my babies here in school are safe,” said principal Vincent Riccardi. “None of the staff in the church have anything to do with our kids. We don’t do programs with them. We have no affiliation with Abundant Life Church, other than we happen to share the building, but they’re not in our area.”

Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins is listed as the secretary on the board of trustees for Lucas County Children Services, according to the child protection agency website.

Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins has been on approved leave from her county administrator position since Wednesday to attend to a health-related family matter in California, said County Commissioner President Pete Gerken.

According to Jenkins’ bio on the church’s website: (link no longer active)

Pastor Cordell Arkee Jenkins is man of vision, purpose and prayer. His mission in ministry is to make strong the weak, to mend the broken and to heal the wounded. He is committed to preaching the Gospel to every ethnicity and every nation-to tell a dying world about Jesus.

Pastor Jenkins is the founder and pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo, Ohio. On October 10, 2010 Abundant Life Ministries held their inaugural service as a new ministry in the Kingdom of God. From that date to the present, the Lord has shown himself faithful to the congregants of the ministry and also to the city at large.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised by his faithful parents Bishop Chorrethers and Pastor Stephanie A. Jenkins, Pastor Jenkins received visions as a child of how Christ wanted him to serve in ministry. Constantly surrounded by harvest workers he learned the importance of obedience to the voice of God.

After completing his education in the Cleveland Public School System, Pastor Jenkins journeyed to Salisbury, North Carolina to attend Livingstone College majoring in Political Science. During this time period in August 1994, he accepted this call to preach the Gospel.

Before founding Abundant Life Ministries, Pastor Jenkins pastored for over 15 years at several churches in the A.M.E. Zion Church in South Carolina, Oakland, California and Toledo, Ohio.

Never wanting to be idle in his work for the Kingdom and community, Pastor Jenkins has been involved with several organizations including several chapters of the NAACP, Brothers United for Change Advisory Board, Single Parent’s Harvest, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Black Methodist Fellowship and served for Toledo Public schools as a Linkage coordinator. He currently resides on the board of directors for the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union.

Pastor Jenkins and Abundant Life Ministries are active members of Perfecting Fellowship International of a sisterhood of churches presided over by Bishop-Elect Marvin L. Winans. This fellowship of churches are both stateside and abroad that encompasses congregations from various states including New York, Texas, Florida, Alabama, London and South Africa; all of which meet annually for church growth, leadership training, community outreach and convocations packed with teaching, preaching and worship.

Pastor Jenkins is happily married to First Lady Laura C. Lloyd-Jenkins. He and his wife desire to be living examples of Christ’s love in the church and in the community. His personal motto is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

According to ABC-13, Jenkins’ partner in crime Anthony Haynes is also a pastor.

Update

WTOL-11 reports:

A Toledo church that was formerly lead by a pastor charged with sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children has a new name.

The former pastor, Cordell Jenkins was arrested in April.

Abundant Life Ministries on Glendale Rd. in Toledo is now Perfecting Toledo.

Bishop Marvin Winans of Detroit will oversee the church, while maintaining his congregation in Detroit.

The new service time is at 8 a.m.

The church is also looking to downsize and move into a smaller location for financial reasons.

Jenkins and another pastor, Anthony Haynes, were indicted on federal charges of sex crimes with a teen.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Lonny Remmers Sentenced to One Year in Federal Prison

pastor lonny remmers

On October 7, 2014, Lonny Remmers, pastor of Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona, California was sentenced to two years in state prison for “assaulting the 13-year-old son of a church member.” The Press Enterprise reported:

Corona pastor Lonny Remmers, head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, faced an audience of one Friday as he fought to stay out of prison for assaulting the 13-year-old son of a church member.

Remmers, 56, told Superior Court Judge Richard T. Fields how he had mended marriages in his approximately 20-member church and broken children free from years of abuse.

In explaining why he grabbed a pair of pliers and pinched the boy’s nipple during a Bible study – a punishment for the boy raping his sister – Remmers conceded that “I wish I had thought different in the moment to pick a different route.”

Fields was only partly impressed, however, and sentenced Remmers to two years in state prison, the maximum allowed under a plea deal Remmers had agreed to. Fields rejected a request from defense attorney Peter Scalisi to allow Remmers to turn himself in at a later date, and the gray-haired pastor was bound in chains on the spot.

“I recognize the gentleman has done great things,” Fields told Remmers’ supporters and detractors in the courtroom.

But Fields noted other aspects of the punishment that occurred in March 2012 after the boy’s mother brought him to Remmers to be disciplined. Co-defendants Darryll D. Jeter Jr. and Nicholas Craig, who previously had pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a minor, had taken the boy known in court records as John Doe to the desert near Barstow, forced him to dig a mock grave, threw dirt on him and told the boy that his answers to questions would determine whether he lived or died. The boy was then taken to a group home, where he was stripped, zip tied to a chair and Maced, according to court records. The boy was then taken to the Bible study.

“The ultimate consequence of that was unimaginable to me,” Fields said. “That is not an acceptable form of punishment to me, plain and simple. That’s more than a minor misjudgment that I simply cannot ignore.”

Scalisi had urged Fields to grant probation. He said Remmers was remorseful and has helped many people in his ministry.

Friday’s hearing in Riverside provided a stunning conclusion to a case that Fields described as “very unique in many, many ways.”

For one, people who had avoided speaking out during the case that began in March 2012 decided to speak publicly Friday, and they didn’t leave anything out as they tried to persuade Fields to give Remmers probation instead of prison.

The victim in the case and his mother – she moved in with Remmers after his arrest on charges that originally included kidnapping – spoke on the pastor’s behalf Friday.

The boy, now 16, said Remmers “is the best father I have ever known. He means the world to me. He doesn’t deserve any of this. He’s done more to help me in my life than anyone else I’ve ever known. I love this man.”

The boy’s mother, who is not being identified because it could identify the boy, spoke next. She said Remmers pleaded guilty so the boy wouldn’t have to testify about molesting his younger sister. But then she told the court what her son did to her daughter.

She said the incident should have been taken care of in “the family” and not involved police. Remmers taught her son that when it comes to rape, “No means no.”

She claimed that the plea deal was made because of a lack of evidence. Fields interrupted her, reminding her that Remmers voluntarily pleaded guilty.

Yesterday, Remmers appeared in U.S. District Court and was sentenced to one year in prison for wire fraud. The Press Enterprise reports:

Corona Pastor Lonny Remmers was sentenced to a year and a day in federal custody Tuesday, April 4, in connection with an Ohio wire-fraud case.

In Toledo, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Helmick also sentenced Remmers, 59, to three years’ supervised probation and ordered him to pay $95,000 restitution. Remmers was sentenced on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; two felony counts of wire fraud were dismissed. Two other counts of wire fraud were dismissed when Remmers pleaded guilty in August.

Twenty-four Remmers supporters submitted letters to the court, vouching for his character.

Remmers, Robert Milam and Mark O. Wittenmyer were accused of soliciting $2 million from an Ohio developer as seed money for an investment fund but instead using the money for their own purposes. Milam was sentenced to 14 months in prison in January. Wittenmyer is scheduled to be sentenced April 18.

Remmers is head of the Heart of Worship Community Church, which has about two dozen members, many of them recovering drug addicts or others who sought refuge with Remmers from their troubled lives.

Astoundingly, Remmers’ church continues to stand behind their man.

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Wisdom Kusorgbor Charged With Sexually Assaulting Three-Year-Old Girl

wisdom kusorgbor

Wisdom Kusorgbor, pastor of Soldiers of the Cross Ministries at Korle-Gonno, Ghana, has been charged with sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl. Peace FM reports:

A 24-year old pastor who is accused of “fingering” a three year old girl and using his penis to “brush” her vagina, on Wednesday appeared before a Circuit Court in Accra.

Wisdom Kusorgbor, the Head Pastor of Soldiers of the Cross Ministries at Korle-Gonno, charged with indecent assault pleaded not guilty.

The court presided over by Mrs. Marian Affoh admitted Kusorgbor to bail in the sum of GHC 8,000 with three sureties to reappear on April 11 for trial to commence.

Prosecuting Detective Inspector Kofi Atimbire said the complainant, a businesswoman resides at Santana at Chorkor in Accra with the victim who is her daughter while the accused also resides at Korle Gonno.

Detective Inspector Atimbire said the accused person’s mother and the complainant are co-tenants.

According to prosecution Kusorgbor has therefore been visiting his mother and whenever he visits he gives his mobile phone to the victim to watch cartoons.

On December 28, last year, the prosecutor said at about 6:00pm the accused person visited his mother but on reaching there his mother had gone to town.

Prosecution said Kusorgbor, however, carried the victim into his mother room to watch the cartoons on his laptop. Whiles watching the cartoon, accused person inserted his finger and used his penis to “brush” the victim’s vagina.
According to prosecution the accused person did not penetrate the victim’s vagina.

Woman Sexually Abused by First Baptist Church Deacon A.V. Ballenger Speaks Out

av ballenger

For many years, especially during the decades the church was pastored by Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana was the spiritual home for countless sexual predators and con artists. Most evaded detection thanks to cover-ups orchestrated by the fearsome, loyalty-demanding Hyles.

The scandals and stories are many, yet to this day more than a few Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) unquestionably believe that most of sordid tales are lies manufactured by those who hate Jack Hyles and have it out for the church. No amount of evidence will convince them otherwise.

Personally, I have given up trying to talk sense to Hyles’ loyalists. When Hyles himself was accused of sexual and ministerial misconduct, his sycophants wore buttons that said 100% HYLES. Today, the thinking that led to the buttons remains alive and well. The nastiest commenters I have ever dealt with on this blog are the followers of Jack Hyles. No matter how many sick stories emanate from the darkest corners of First Baptist in Hammond, Jack Hyles, who paved the way for his preacher son to prey on church women, his pastor son in-law to take sexual advantage of a church teen, and for deacons, Sunday school teachers, bus workers, and Hyles-Anderson preacher boys to sexually assault children and vulnerable adults, remains, in the eyes of many, above reproach. For whatever reason, the devoted followers of Jack Hyles are unable to make the connection between Hyles — their demigod — and the doctrines, beliefs and practices that facilitated criminal behavior

Almost twenty-five years ago, well-known First Baptist deacon A.V. Ballenger was convicted of sexually molesting a seven-year-old church girl. Three other women testified at Ballenger’s sentencing that they too had been molested by him. Tamiko Grace was one of the women who testified.

Yesterday, the Northwest Times published a story written by Steve Garrison detailing Grace’s story:

Tamiko “Tammy” Grace told The Times last week it was the grace of God that allowed her to forgive the former church employee she said molested her when she attended First Baptist Church in the mid-1970s.

Grace, a 44-year-old mother of three children, said she was molested when she was 5 years old by A.V. Ballenger, a former church deacon convicted in March 1993 of molesting a 7-year-old girl in 1991 during a Sunday School class at the Hammond church.
….
Grace was one of three women who testified they were abused as children by Ballenger at the former deacon’s sentencing hearing in June 1993, according to The Times archives.

Grace told The Times last week that Ballenger groped her repeatedly when he was a school bus driver for the church.
“I didn’t know it was wrong,” she said. “I was so young, I just thought it was love.”

Ballenger maintained his innocence at the sentencing hearing and claimed the women, one of whom was his own niece, testified for sympathy and attention, according to the archives.

Grace said she instead testified due to the guilt she felt for not coming forward sooner. She was 22 years old and had a young child when she finally reported the incident to authorities. She feared she could have saved other girls from abuse if she had reported it sooner.

“This was my chance to make the wrong right,” she said.

Ballenger was sentenced to five years in prison, court records state. The 81-year-old now lives in Alabama, according to the state’s sex offender registry. He could not be reached for comment.

Grace said she struggled for years to deal with the shame she felt as a result of the molestation, but she attended therapy and continued to find strength in God.

You can read the entire article here.

Video Link

If you are not familiar with Jack Hyles and First Baptist Church, please read the articles below.

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome

David Hyles Says ‘My Bad, Jesus’

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

Jack Hyles Teaches Parents How to Indoctrinate Their Babies

Jack Hyles Tells Unsubmissive Woman to Kill Herself

Jack Hyles Gives Advice on How to Raise a Girl

1991 Current Affairs Report: Jack Hyles Stole My Wife

In 2013, Chicago Magazine published a lengthy article on the plethora of sexual predators and abuse problems associated with First Baptist Church. You can read the article here.

 

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Benjamin Nelson Charged with Sexual Assault of a 13-Year-Old

pastor benjamin nelsonLast week, Benjamin Nelson, pastor of Peoria Baptist Church (link no longer active) in Hillsboro, Texas was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. The Star-Telegram reports:

A man who leads a small Baptist church and is attending seminary in Waco was arrested Monday and faces child sexual assault charges.

Benjamin William Nelson, 28, was arrested at his home and booked into the Hill County Jail. He was being held Sunday on two charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one charge of deadly conduct, according to Whitney police.

Whitney police told Fox4News a mother found Nelson in a car with her underage daughter in a Whitney shopping center late Sunday. Police said the deadly conduct charge stems from Nelson driving recklessly near the teen’s mother as he left the scene.

According to Nelson’s Facebook page, he is married, is pastor of Peoria Baptist Church and is attending George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

Police are concerned there may be other victims.

Today, Nelson was charged with additional crimes. The Reporter reports:

A local pastor who was arrested by the Whitney Police Department Monday, February 27, on charges of sexual assault of a child is facing two new charges.

Benjamin William Nelson, 27, of Waco, who was pastor of Peoria Baptist Church at the time of his arrest, was initially facing two charges of sexual assault of a child and one charge of deadly conduct.

On Thursday, March 2, Whitney Police filed two new charges on Nelson.

Whitney Police Chief Chris Bentley said that charges of indecency with a child and online solicitation of a minor were added.

….

Justice of the Peace Shane Brassell set bonds totaling $755,000 on Nelson on the initial charges.

Bonds totaling $50,000 were added on the two new charges.

Bentley said that additional charges are pending, and Nelson’s electronic devices have been sent to a Waco facility for investigation.

The chief added that police are concerned Nelson may have had contact with other children online.

As of today, Nelson is still listed as the pastor of Peoria Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation. According to Nelson’s about page: (link no longer active)

Rev. Ben Nelson was born and raised in deep east Texas, behind the pine curtain, in Center, Texas.  He was dedicated, baptized, licensed, married, and ordained by the First Baptist Church of Center, where he met his wife Casey.  Ben earned undergraduate degrees at the University of Texas at Austin, and Casey earned undergraduate degrees at Baylor University.

From 2011 to 2016 Ben served as a Campus Pastor with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Texas A&M University.  He’s preached revivals, coordinated evangelism campaigns, led overseas mission trips, planted new Bible studies, and equipped generations of college students to follow Jesus faithfully for the rest of their lives.

In 2016 Ben and Casey felt the Lord calling Ben to begin in the pastorate and begin coursework on his Masters of Divinity degree at Baylor’s Truett Seminary.  He came to us in view of a call in August of 2016, and he’s been preaching the Word to our congregation ever since.

Ben serves as a leader among equals, and works alongside the deacons and the congregation to see Christ’s Kingdom come, and Christ’s will done in our church and our community.

A February 6, 2018 ABC-25 report stated:

A former pastor has pleaded guilty on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Whitney police said that Benjamin Nelson was arrested for two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child with three related charges in February of 2017.

A 13-year-old reported to Whitney police that she had met Nelson online and had engaged in sexual contact. Nelson was a pastor at a local church at the time.

Whitney police said that Nelson pleaded guilty to all five counts and was sentenced to 20 years to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and required to register as a lifetime sex offender.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Jimmy Orick Charged with Statutory Rape

pastor jimmy orick

WATE.com reports:

A LaFollette pastor was charged with statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure and sexual battery.

Jimmy Ernest Orick, 68, was arrested Friday evening at a home in Jacksboro. Orick is the pastor at Mountain View Independent Baptist Church.

According to an updated report, Orick pleaded not guilty.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports:

Orick is accused of three counts of aggravated statutory rape, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure after a 16-year-old girl who lived with him for three months in Jacksboro reported incidents to her mother. According to the report, the girl has audio recordings of at least one of the alleged encounters.

Black Collar Crime: Restoration Youth Academy’s Sadistic Abuse of Children Made Public

isolation rooms at restoration youth academy

Isolation rooms at Restoration Youth Academy

What follows is an excerpt from a Newsweek article by Art Levine titled, The Harrowing Story of Life Inside Alabama’s Most Sadistic Christian Bootcamp. I hope you will take the time to read the entire article. It serves as a reminder of the fact that the practices and methodologies of men such as Mack Ford and Lester Roloff still influence Evangelicals churches and pastors, encouraging yet another generation of Christians to violently abuse children in the name of God. We must not rest until every last one of these type of homes are closed and their operators prosecuted, convicted, and given a long prison sentences.

It was October 2011, and Captain Charles Kennedy, a veteran policeman, was in the main office at the Restoration Youth Academy (RYA), a Christian home for troubled teens in Prichard, Alabama, when he caught a glimpse of something shocking on a close-circuit monitor: a naked boy crouching in a 6-by-8-foot isolation room as a light bulb burned overhead.

Kennedy had been waiting for William Knott, the program’s manager, to return with some paperwork, and when he walked back into the office, Kennedy asked about the boy, whose name he later learned was Robert. He wanted to know what the boy had done to deserve such treatment. Knott, a squat, powerfully built ex-sailor, calmly explained his rationale: “He’s got an attitude. He’s only been there for a day, and he’ll be there for another day or two.”

“Can’t you give him some clothes?” Kennedy asked.

But Knott offered only a vague answer.

Kennedy had been investigating RYA for little more than a week, spurred by a few complaints by parents of kids in the program. RYA’s executives had promised parents “hope for their teenagers’ future, when hope doesn’t seem possible,” as its website declared. And many were grateful for that. “I was scared I would find my son hanging from a rope or dead from a needle,” says Leslie Crawford, from South Portland, Maine, who paid $1,500 a month to send her truant, drug-­using son to RYA.

But what Kennedy had found behind the school’s forbidding metal gates disturbed him. He’d come after hearing from two mothers who were alarmed that their kids had been facing severe punishment. Knott had provided a tour of an empty classroom inside interconnected mobile homes and an adjoining cafeteria filled with quiet, unsmiling children. Afterward, he had allowed Kennedy to speak alone with one of the boys whose mother had called him.
That’s when he learned firsthand about the teenagers’ accusations of abuse. As he investigated, he found that many of the school’s “cadets” were afraid to talk. But those who did left Kennedy with the impression that he had stumbled across something terrible. The boys, for instance, told him they were often grabbed out their beds in the middle of the night and forced to fight one another until one was beaten to a pulp. All of them were subjected to a brutal, daily regimen of exercises, sometimes stark naked—pushups, jumping jacks and running in place. Drill instructors, including Knott, frequently punched them, choked them and body-slammed them as they worked out. On his first day in the program, one boy claimed, Knott crouched down next to him, and, after yanking his head up by his hair, started pounding his skull against the floor while shouting, “You will exercise until I get tired!” Another told Kennedy he had been held upside down in shackles and hit with a belt, an allegation later supported by an eyewitness letter by another teen. (Newsweek has either provided anonymity to the minors in the program or changed their names to protect their privacy.)

Kennedy wanted to protect the cadets from abuse, but he also knew he lacked the hard evidence needed to make an arrest. So for the next week or so, he periodically returned to RYA, which is how he found himself with Knott, asking about the naked boy named Robert in the isolation room.
The officer was concerned. The United Nations considers the use of solitary confinement as punishment to be torture. But the police officer knew what he’d just seen wasn’t illegal in Alabama if it took place over a relatively short time span. He also knew these institutions bar the young people they control from unmonitored communication with family and outsiders—and most states, including Alabama, don’t even protect workers who report child abuse from being fired. The result: Abuse isn’t reported until long after it was committed, which makes prosecutions nearly impossible.

As Kennedy continued checking on Robert, the boy eventually told him about his stay in isolation. Knott and the school’s founder, John David Young Jr., the pastor of Solid Rock Ministries in Mobile, were frustrated by Robert’s “poor” attitude and persistent depression while in solitary confinement; and they were determined to change his behavior. So after days in solitary confinement, they dragged him from the isolation room to Knott’s bedroom, where Knott handed the boy a .380 automatic pistol. “If you’re so determined to kill yourself,” Knott said, “you should put the gun next to your head and pull the trigger.”

“I pulled it, and it went click,” Robert told the officer.

Kennedy was appalled. He immediately confronted Knott and Young about this sadistic bit of theater, but they didn’t deny the boy’s accusation. In fact, Knott went to his nearby bedroom and returned with the gun and placed it Kennedy’s hand. “I was just teaching him a lesson,” he said.

“I knew then I was dealing with crazy people,” says Kennedy. “You don’t do that to a human being.”

But the insanity had only begun.

….

The template for these schools is Roloff’s Rebekah Home for Girls in Corpus Christi, Texas, which he created in the 1960s and that became the centerpiece of a chain of religious reformatories. Roloff’s program involved vicious corporal punishment and locking kids in isolation rooms where his sermons were played endlessly. Over more than two decades, the controversial preacher was arrested a few times and his Rebekah school relocated to various states in part to sidestep any state laws mandating oversight, such as one in Texas requiring inspection of all child-care facilities. Yet Roloff faced few consequences, even though one lawsuit featured affidavits from 16 girls saying they were whipped with leather straps, severely paddled and handcuffed to pipes. “Better a pink bottom than a black soul,” Roloff famously declared at a 1973 court hearing.

The stern spirit of Lester Roloff lives on in the resistance by church leaders—often abetted by local politicians—to any government oversight under the guise of separation of church and state. Nine states, including Florida, Alabama and Missouri, have wide-ranging “faith-based” exemptions protecting various church programs and schools from direct government oversight (while 26 states have no requirements for any private schools, religious or secular). Regulations in the U.S. are so loose that controversial organizations are rarely sanctioned despite allegations of rampant abuse. Some programs such as Teen Challenge, the world’s largest fundamentalist treatment chain for adults and youth, are often subsidized by taxpayer dollars—despite many public accusations of abuse and neglect. (Over the years, Teen Challenge has denied any wrongdoing or misconduct.)

As Kennedy says of the nation’s unmonitored religious programs: “They’re hiding behind a cross, but there’s for damn sure evil going on.”

You can read the entire article here.

pastor john david young and william knott

Pastor John David Young and William Knott, Restoration Youth Academy

In 2016, Anna Claire Vollers wrote a feature article titled Former Students Share Harrowing Stories of Life Inside Alabama’s Worst Religious Private School. Vollers detailed a plethora of the abuses going on at Restoration Youth Academy:

Lucas Greenfield was prepared to scale the razor-wire topped fence surrounding Restoration Youth Academy if it meant his freedom.

While an instructor was busy, Greenfield seized his chance. He was nearly out the door when another student ratted him out.

His punishment for the attempted escape was “isolation,” an empty 8×8 room lit by a lone bulb that burned overhead day and night.

He was clad only in his underwear. That was the rule. Instructors let him out, briefly, twice a day to use the bathroom. Sometimes he got to take a shower. Mostly he just sat or slept.

Greenfield, then 14, spent two months in isolation.

“When you’re inside a tiny room where all you can see is four walls,” he said, “you start – I won’t say hallucinating, but you start going crazy.”

His thoughts ran in dark circles: “What’s the best way to kill myself? Is there any way out of this? This is ridiculous. I hope I die.”

Restoration Youth Academy was a Christian bootcamp-style residential school for troubled youth, squatting in one of the grittiest neighborhoods in Prichard, the worn-down working-class city on Mobile’s north side. Owner and Pastor John David Young and instructor William Knott tightly controlled how the “cadets” – boys and girls ages 10-17 – ate, slept, learned and exercised.

Despite multiple investigations by the Mobile County district attorney’s office and the Alabama Department of Human Resources, and despite complaints of abuse from some students – vehemently denied by Knott and Young – it took officials five years to close down the school.

….

An investigation of Restoration Youth Academy in 2012 by the Mobile Press-Register found that multiple school employees had criminal records. Prior to joining the academy in Prichard, Knott was a drill instructor at a similar troubled-teen boot camp in Lucedale, Mississippi, that was plagued with lawsuits and allegations of abuse and torture. It was eventually closed.

Restoration Youth Academy and Saving Youth Foundation were affiliated with churches pastored by Young. As church schools, they were exempt from state regulation or oversight. The state kept no records on them. State law didn’t require they file any registration papers to show that they existed.

Alabama law (Code of Alabama 16-1-11.1) says state regulation of any religiously affiliated school would be an unconstitutional burden on religious activities and directly violate the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment. State law also says the state has no compelling interest to burden nonpublic schools with licensing or regulation.

While Alabama does have a few basic reporting requirements for private schools, it exempts those that are church schools in every instance. Teachers do not have to undergo background checks and schools do not have to be inspected. While many church-affiliated schools do choose to pursue licensing or accreditation by outside agencies, it’s not a mandate in Alabama.

“This is not a church versus state issue,” he said. “The state has the right to tell these people that they can’t hurt kids. They’re causing these children lifelong damage and we allow it.”

He said, “If I get these children declared as domestic animals, I could get them protection I can’t get them as human beings,” said Kennedy.

….

All of the students interviewed told of boxing matches at the school. Knott or one of the other drill instructors would frequently force two cadets to box each other, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Students said the fights were often mismatched by design, pitting a small boy against a much larger boy. Neither had the option to refuse.

“They’d have the bigger kid beat the [expletive] out of the other kid,” said Greenfield, the boy who spent two months in isolation. “They’d make us form a big circle. You can’t get out and you can’t get back in.

“They would always have somebody, normally me, pray before we’d have the boxing match. Will (Knott) told me to pray nobody got killed. I was like, really? You’re the one making them fight.

“So I would never say ‘die’ in the prayer; I’d pray nobody gets severely bashed up.”

Physical abuse from Knott, Young, Moffett and other instructors was common at the schools, according to Greenfield and others.

“Basically everything revolved around a beating,” said Angelina Randazzo, who was sent to the Prichard school when she was 14. “They made people kneel on rocks to cut up their knees. Made people be out in the sun all day, out in the mud, didn’t give anybody water. I’ve gotten shoes thrown at me, hit in the face, thrown at a wall.”

Greenfield bears scars on the backs of his ankles he said are from being forced to wear shackles.

“They would handcuff and shackle us, kids who were at risk of running away or harming another person, and make us wear it all day,” he said. “They handcuffed this one kid to his bed.”

You can read the entire article here.

On February 22, 2017, Pastor John David Young, “boys’ instructor William Knott, 48, and  girls’ instructor Aleshia Moffett, 42, received 20-year sentences to be served concurrently for each of three counts of aggravated child abuse.”