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Black Collar Crime: Catholic Youth Director Arnold DiBlasi Charged with Possessing and Distributing Child Porn

Arnold DiBlasi

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.

Arnold DiBlasi, a youth director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and a grandfather, stands accused of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The Trentonian reports:

Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw and Evesham Township Police Chief Walt Miller have announced that a 71-year-old Marlton man has been charged with possessing and distributing child sexual abuse material.

Arnold DiBlasi, of the first block of Prince Charles Court, was charged with four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (three First Degree and one Second Degree).

DiBlasi, who is the former youth group director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill, was taken into custody on July 26 at his residence following the execution of a search warrant. Electronic devices seized during the search will be examined by detectives from the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit. A preliminary review of DiBlasi’s cell phone revealed the presence of child sexual abuse material.

He was lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly and released following a detention hearing in Superior Court. The case will now be referred to a grand jury for possible indictment.

The investigation began in May after the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit received information regarding DiBlasi’s online activities from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation revealed that DiBlasi, utilizing an online chat room, distributed more than 11,000 files of child sexual abuse material to 30 people.

CBS adds:

DiBlasi worked with kids as youth director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill.

In a statement, Pastor Jason Rocks says officials assured him “no parish youth were involved in the materials, none of the activities took place on parish property, nor were any parish electronics used.”

Father Rocks also went on to say DiBlasi completed all required training and criminal background checks before being hired.

Sorry, Father Rocks. Your assurances carry very little, if any, weight on this site. We’ve seen too much.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: United Methodist Pastor Rick Haberland Pleads No Contest to Child Pornography Charges

rick haberland

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

Rick Haberland, pastor of Oneida United Methodist Church in Oneida, Wisconsin, pleaded no contest last Friday to charges of child pornography possession. Haberland previously pastored United Methodist Church in De Pere, Suring and Hickory United Methodist Churches in Suring, Phillips United Methodist Church in Phillips, and Tabor United Methodist Church in Eden

The Post Crescent reports:

Rick E. Haberland, former pastor of Oneida United Methodist Church, pleaded no contest to all five charges Friday morning during a plea hearing in Outagamie County Circuit Court. A no-contest plea accepts a guilty verdict without admitting or denying any guilt.

….

He was arrested in February following an investigation in response to a Cybertipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

During the course of the investigation, police linked Haberland with a Skype account and email address involved in multiple exchanges of child pornography.

On Feb. 23, police executed search warrants at Oneida United Methodist Church and Haberland’s nearby residence, during which they seized his phone. A digital forensic examiner estimated Haberland’s phone had more than 150 videos depicting sexual abuse of children, in addition to written statements about sexual abuse of infant to 12-year-old boys, according to a criminal complaint. 

During the search at Haberland’s residence, investigators found 1.2 grams of meth in his bedroom closet, the criminal complaint said.

Haberland was initially charged with 13 counts of possession of child pornography, but nine were dismissed.

Haberland’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 14.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Our Pastor Looked at Child Pornography and Took Inappropriate Pictures, but He’s a Really Nice Guy

father stephen pohl

I have known Stephen Pohl since the day he was born. I seriously doubt that these allegations will be proven. He said mass at my mothers [sic] passing and has been a friend to my family for over 50 years. It is painful because we are again seeing the pillory [sic] of another priest. Father Joe Hemmerly has been dogged by allegations all stemming from putting Lotion on the Sun Burn of a camper at the summer camp he ran. Many priests are unfairly targeted and I will be seriously surprised if these allegations pan out.

Father Stephen Pohl Supporter

Another day, another Catholic priest is arrested/charged/convicted of sexually molesting children. In August 2015, Stephen Pohl, 57, a pastor at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky was arrested and charged with the possession of child pornography. According to the Courier Journal, Pohl “admitted to accessing the pornographic images of nude underage boys on computers at the church rectory and office between January and August 2015.” In January, Pohl admitted his guilt and signed a plea agreement that could result in him spending 33 months in a federal penitentiary. Pohl would also be required to register as a sex offender and face a “lifetime of supervision by the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.”

According to Courier-Journal report:

The federal case began after a 10-year-old St. Margaret Mary student told his mother that “Father Steve” singled him out at an after-school club to take a series of “weird” photos on his cell phone. The youth posed with his hands on his knees and legs spread apart, following the priest’s orders, according to the affidavit.

When the parents eventually confronted Pohl about the pictures, the affidavit details, they saw similar pictures of another child on the priest’s phone and reported it to law enforcement.

According to another Courier-Journal report, Louisville Metro Police Crimes Against Children Unit detective Dan Jackman is quoted as saying:

“One can clearly see up the child’s shorts and underwear,” Jackman wrote of one of the photos while another is “focused on the child’s genitals.”

You would think that St. Margaret Mary parishioners would be calling for Father Pohl’s head. Nope. According to WLKY, several Pohl supporters have written U.S. District Judge David Hale, asking him to be lenient when sentencing Pohl on March 29, 2016. After all, Pohl is “presently working with a psychologist. It has assisted me in understanding what is happening here.” What IS happening here? What is happening is that a Catholic priest is sexually attracted to boys and he got caught accessing internet child pornography. He also took photographs of young St. Margaret Mary boys. What more does anyone need to know? Pohl is a pedophile. Does anyone honestly think this was Pohl’s first time looking at child porn? Does anyone seriously think that he looked but didn’t touch? Not me.

While I don’t think Pohl should be locked away for life, I have serious reservations about any treatments that purport to “cure” pedophiles. If there is no cure, should men such as Pohl be permitted to roam free in public? Should they — after 20 hail Marys and 50 Our Fathers — be permitted to return to the church and have access to children? I hope not. Pohl should NEVER be permitted to be alone with children.

And what’s with those who write letters of support? I have noticed in other sex crime cases involving children/teenagers and clergymen that these predators always have supporters urging the courts to not be too hard on the convicted felon. Several years ago, Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, was convicted of a sex crime and sentenced to 12 years in prison. I was astounded by all the letters that were written in his support. Schaap’s supporters commented on this blog, suggesting that Schaap was not to blame for his crimes. He was tired, had medical problems, the girl seduced him, said Schaap supporters.

Why is it that many Christians are unable to see people as they are? I suspect the main reason is cognitive dissonance. On Sundays, members see nice, loving, kind, and supportive Father Pohl or Pastor Schaap. During the week, these “nice” men are surfing child porn sites or shagging church teenagers. Every year, hundreds and hundreds of “nice” preachers are arrested, charged, and convicted of sex crimes. How can these things be? cry church members. On Sundays, these men preached sermons, blessed the communion elements, and glad-handed with parishioners after services. During the week they visited the sick, cared for widows, and took groceries to the hungry. Everything about their lives said these are “nice” men. Yet, in the shadows of their lives, these men committed crimes that Christians and atheists alike find reprehensible. The cognitive dissonance is so great that parishioners convince themselves that their sexual predator pastors and priests are misguided and weak — but still “nice” men. Yet, when asked if they would let their children or grandchildren spend an unsupervised weekend with these men, I suspect most parents and grandparents would emphatically say, NO!

I have long argued that the Christian notion of atonement and forgiveness gets in the way of people seeing sexual predators as they are — men who prey on trusting, defenseless children and teenagers. No amount of prayers, magic mumbo-jumbo at an old-fashioned altar, or confessions can erase the fact that these men committed heinous crimes. They are not “nice” men. They are sexual predators who deserve punishment for their crimes. Let the mothers of convicted sexual predators tell the courts how “nice” their sons are. That is what mothers do. Church members, however, should spend their time helping the victims and making sure such crimes NEVER happen again. Louisville Catholics should be demanding a full accounting from diocese officials. What did they know and when did they know it? Were they aware of Pohl’s perverse desires? If they were, what steps did they take to make sure he no longer had access to parish children? As is the case in many Catholic parishes, sex crimes by priests are buried with the hope that they will remain so until the statute of limitations runs out. Just what Jesus would do, right?

In 2016, Pohl was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Josh Duggar Found Guilty of Child Porn Possession

josh duggar

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

Earlier this year, Josh Duggar, of “19 Kids and Counting” fame, was accused of receiving and possessing child pornography.

CNN reports:

Former reality TV star Joshua Duggar has been arrested on federal charges related to the possession of child pornography, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas.

Duggar allegedly downloaded material that depicted the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, the US attorney’s office said in a statement. Duggar allegedly possessed the material in May 2019.

Duggar, the oldest son of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, whose family was the subject of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” faces two charges, the indictment shows — one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 if convicted, the statement said.

Duggar was arrested in Arkansas Thursday, according to the statement. He appeared in federal court Friday via video conference and pleaded not guilty to both charges.

In 2015, Duggar was accused of sexually molesting five girls, including some of his sisters. No charges were filed against Duggar.

The Daily Mail reports:

The arrest marks Duggar’s latest brush with the law after his father, Jim Bob, reported him to police in 2006 for allegedly molesting five young girls over multiple occasions back when he was 14 and 15. It took several years and a tip-off to local police that finally forced Jim Bob to report his son’s behavior to authorities.

Josh’s behavior was first discovered in March of 2002, when one of his youngest sisters went to Jim Bob ‘very upset and crying’. Josh admitted to touching her breasts and genitals while she was sleeping on multiple occasions.

In the report, Jim Bob said Josh was ‘disciplined,’ though didn’t reveal what the discipline entailed. 

But there were more incidents to follow after that. And it was revealed that Jim Bob decided to finally go to authorities after an anonymous tip was made to the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline about Josh’s behavior.

Finally speaking to police on Dec. 12, 2006, Jim Bob said when he learned about what his son was doing, he ‘met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on.’ 

They sent Josh to a Christian program that consisted of hard physical work and counseling from March 17, 2003 to July 17, 2003. 

It later emerged that the institute’s founder, Bill Gothard, was accused of sexually harassing or assaulting 34 women in 2014 and resigned shortly afterward.  

It wasn’t until May 2015, when the police report leaked in the media, that details of the accusations went public. The reality show was cancelled by TLC two months later. 

Duggar’s sisters, Jessa and Jill Duggar, have since claimed they were two of their brother’s alleged victims. 

Duggar later found himself caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal. The Daily Mail reports:

Months later, Duggar was rocked by another scandal when it was revealed that he had an account on Ashley Madison – the cheating website for married men.

He released yet another statement apologizing for cheating on his wife, saying: ‘I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the Internet and this has become a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.’

In December 2021, Duggar was found guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison.

US Weekly reports:

Josh Duggar has been found guilty of receiving and possessing child pornography just over one week after his trial began.

The former reality star, 33, was convicted on Thursday, December 9, on two charges of receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material, according to local news outlet KNWA. He faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each count. Sentencing will occur at a later date.

The political activist was previously arrested without bail on the child pornography charges in April. At the time, his attorney entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment and he was released on bond one month later.

“According to court documents, Joshua James Duggar, 33, allegedly used the internet to download child sexual abuse material,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas said in a press release following the arrest. “Duggar allegedly possessed this material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, in May 2019.”

Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar addressed their son’s legal issues in a statement to Us, saying, “We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor Jody Sambrick Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

pastor jody sambrick

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.

Jody Sambrick, pastor of Hopeland United Methodist Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty this week to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 1-2 years in prison.

Lancaster Online reports:

A West Lampeter Township man and former church pastor pleaded guilty this week to possessing child pornography in 2018, West Lampeter Township police announced Tuesday.

Jody Sambrick, 61, was sentenced to one to two years in prison plus eight years of probation upon his release, police said in a news release.

Sambrick, a former pastor at Hopeland United Methodist Church in Clay Township, will also be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years, provide a DNA sample and must undergo evaluation by a Sex Offender Assessment Board, among other conditions, said Sean McBryan, a spokesperson for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Judge Merrill Spahn accepted Sambrick’s negotiated plea on three counts of child pornography, two counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of disseminating photos of child sex acts and ordered the sentence Monday, according to court records.

….

Police and the DA’s Computer Crimes Task Force searched Sambrick’s residence in the 1700 block of Pioneer Road in September 2018, uncovering numerous images and videos depicting child pornography on computers and other electronics, according to the news release.

Sambrick was also previously an assistant tennis coach at Millersville University and started a coffee roasting business in 2013, according to previous reporting.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: PCA Worship Leader Chad Robison Sentenced to Eleven Years in Prison

chad robison

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 2017, Chad Robison, worship leader for Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto, Florida, was arrested and charged with “three counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition, specifically intentionally masturbates live over a computer online services knowing that the transmission is viewed by victim less than 16 years of age; 1 count of knowingly promoting sexual performance by a child; and 3 counts of Video Voyeurism for own use.”

Fox-17 reported at the time:

Florida deputies arrested a former worship director early Thursday morning after finding thousands of sexual pictures and videos of young girls and filming them in his bathroom without their knowledge.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, 36-year-old Chad Robison was arrested on several sex charges including video voyeurism and lewd and lascivious exhibition.

Back in May, a coworker alerted detectives about inappropriate videos on Robison’s laptop. Shortly after, he was fired as worship director at Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church.

Investigators found more than 3,000 videos and 350,000 pictures on his laptop with hundreds featuring young girls performing virtual sex acts with Robison.

Deputies said Robison also filmed young girls using the bathroom in his home without their knowledge. The videos range anywhere from several years old to some made just a few months ago.

“We believe there could be multiple victims. Some may be local here in Citrus County, and others across the states and abroad,” Capt. Brian Spiddle said. “It’s going to be a very difficult and long process to find those who have been victimized by this man.”

Several victims are out-of-state including some as far away as Canada and New York.

“I commend the detectives that have been working on this case,” Citrus County Sheriff Prendergast said. “We’ve just scratched the surface and already we know there are several victims out there. I’m so proud of this unit and what they’ve done to bring charges against this very sick man.”

Robison was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition, specifically intentionally masturbates live over a computer online services knowing that the transmission is viewed by victim less than 16 years of age; 1 count of knowingly promoting sexual performance by a child; and 3 counts of Video Voyeurism for own use.

His bond was set at $26,000.

Seven Rivers Presbyterian is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America — a Fundamentalist Christian sect.

Robison later pleaded no contest in July to 48 felony counts ranging from promoting sexual performances by a child and possessing child pornography to transmitting harmful materials and video voyeurism.

In August 2018, Robison was sentenced to eleven years in prison for his crimes.

The Citrus County Chronicle reported at the time:

Chad Robison lived two lives.

In the other, the 37-year-old Hernando man spent years stockpiling illicit images and recordings of teenage girls he seduced online, and of unsuspecting women he videotaped at their most vulnerable times.

The latter of Robison’s lives, which he kept secret from his family and congregation at Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church, earned him a prison sentence Monday.

After hearing a couple hours of testimony from either Robison’s supporters or prosecutors at Robison’s Monday morning sentencing, Circuit Court Judge Richard “Ric” Howard ordered Robison to serve 11 years in prison, followed by 11 years of probation.

Robison wept beside his attorneys as Howard delivered his punishment, which also carries a lifetime sex-offender designation.

Robison’s family, churchgoers and other supporters, who took up half of Howard’s courtroom, surrounded and comforted Robison’s wife, Alexandra, who cried as bailiffs escorted her husband away.  

Robison’s sentence came after he pleaded no contest in July to 48 felony counts ranging from promoting sexual performances by a child and possessing child pornography to transmitting harmful materials and video voyeurism.

Prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office claim Robison’s crimes date back as far back as 2012.

Howard, who had looked over roughly 220 screen captures and other evidence authorities seized from Robison’s laptop computer, told Robison he was not just appalled by what he saw but also by how Robison was reacting when he interacted with his victims online. 

“It’s enough to make some of these people run for the streets,” Howard said. “The enthusiasm of your sexual deviance, your sexual interests is something that cannot be overlooked.”

….

Before he was sentenced, Robison extended an emotional apology to his victims, his community and his church.

“I understand I have caused this community great pain; I have brought pain, I have brought fear, I have brought anger,” Robison said at his sentencing. “I recognize it, I take full responsibility and if anyone ever wants to talk to me, I will lay at their feet and give them my full repentance.”

Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church, where Robison produced Christian music as a worship director since 2011, would not comment on the sentencing.

Robison’s defense team, made up of Charles Vaughn and Gilbert Schaffnit, said Robison’s sex addiction diagnosis — brought on by years of childhood abuse — was to blame for his double life, and warranted rehabilitation, not incarceration.

“He’s not a risk to re-offend,” Vaughn told Howard.

Assistant State Attorney Blake Shore and Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast recommended Howard hand Robison the maximum 25 years.

“What we’re here today for is punishment … we’re not here because of a sex addiction, we’re here because of what he’s done to the little girls and women,” Shore said.

“He took advantage of innocent children and left invisible scars that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives,” Prendergast added.

Detective Chris Cornell, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s lead investigator on Robison’s case, testified to sorting through Robison’s cache of unlawful materials, which were first discovered in May 2017 when Robison’s co-workers tried to play a prank on him.

Cornell said Robison selected his victims by visiting several video chat websites and searching for girls between the ages of 10 and 15, who he would then ask to undress for him or perform other sexual acts with him online.

“He’s a textbook online predator … he’s the one we warn our children about,” Cornell said, adding Robison would lie about his age and use photos of teenage boys as his own profile picture to mask his identity.

Cornell said investigators were able to locate a few of Robison’s victims, one of whom provided a written statement about her online exchanges with a persistent Robison during the summer of 2016, when she was 14 years old.

“I told him I was too young for him and he was begging me not to skip him,” the girl said in a letter read aloud by Assistant State Attorney Erin Leathers.

….

Robison also tried to take inappropriate photographs of girls and women in public, Cornell said, adding Robison was able to videotape women as they used his bathroom.

One woman, who was a member of the church, said Robison used hidden cameras to record her as she changed into different outfits to model in for Robison and his wife.

Alexandra Robison testified she didn’t know what Robison was doing to their models or online.

“The moment he told me everything, I didn’t believe it because it wasn’t him,” she said. “A few of those people were my friends and I was very upset.”

Alexandra Robison said she chose to remain with her husband because of the humility he showed when his addiction crippled him, and the dedication toward his remorse and rehabilitation.

“Chad has hit rock bottom and further … and he’s hit every stride,” she told Howard. “It wouldn’t do me any service or my child any service … for him to go to jail. … I don’t want to see my child grow up without a father.”

Robison’s lawyer says he is not a risk to re-offend. Really? I mean, really? sigh

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: ELCA Pastor Steven Tibbetts Sentenced to Seven Years In Prison for Distributing Child Pornography

steven tibbetts

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 2019, Steven Tibbetts, pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Godfrey, Illinois, was accused of distributing child pornography.

KMOV-4 reported at the time:

Steven P. Tibbetts, 61, served as the head pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Godfrey.

….

Prosecutors say the investigation of Tibbetts began in August 2019 when the blogging and social network site, Tumblr, provided a cyber tip line report about one of its user accounts to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The account was searched by law enforcement and allegedly found to contain images and videos of nude minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

According to the complaint, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also received a tip from Twitter in February 2020 that one of its users had uploaded two images of suspected child pornography.

Investigators were allegedly able to trace the Tumblr and Twitter accounts back to Tibbetts’ home, where a federal search warrant was executed on June 18. A search of Tibbetts’ computer allegedly revealed the presence of additional child pornography images and videos. Agents then arrested Tibbetts at his home.

Last week, Tibbetts was convicted on child pornography charges and sentenced to eighty-seven months in prison.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports:

Stephen P. Tibbetts was ordered to serve seven years and three months in a federal prison and pay $10,000 in restitution to victims who were depicted in some of the videos and photographs. Court documents and evidence obtained by federal agents, and Macoupin County sheriff’s deputies, showed Tibbetts began viewing and distributing child pornography starting in the 1990s and continued until his arrest in June 2020, a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said.

While Tibbetts was on pre-trial release for the offenses he was charged for, an officer located additional devices in his home, which were found to contain child pornography. In all, Tibbetts possessed 2,430 images and 408 videos containing child pornography, according to the court.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

(Updated) Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest W. Thomas Faucher Back in Court on Child Porn Charges

w thomas faucher

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 month, I posted a story about Catholic Priest W. Thomas Faucher and his arrest on child pornography charges. Faucher is back in court today, thanks to newly found porn on his computer (he had tried to delete it). The judge raised Faucher’s bond to $1 million, saying that the community was not safe as long as Faucher roamed free.

KTVB-7 reports:

A retired Boise priest was taken back into custody Tuesday morning after a judge quadrupled his bond, declaring that the brutally violent child pornography newly discovered on the suspect’s computer had convinced him the community was not safe as long as Father W. Thomas Faucher remained free.

Prosecutors leveled nine new charges against Faucher during the hearing – seven new counts of possession of child pornography, one new count of distribution of child pornography and one new count of LSD possession – bringing his total charges to more than 20.

Prosecutor Kassandra Slaven said the additional charges correspond to additional graphic files, images and videos found on the 72-year-old’s computer – some of which Faucher had attempted to delete, she said.

Those images and videos are “so concerning that the state feels that a $250,000 bond just simply does reflect the danger and risk the defendant poses to the community,” Slaven told the judge.

….

Forensic investigators have so far recovered more than 2,000 child pornography files from Faucher’s devices, the prosecutor said, including pictures and videos depicting the “extremely brutal rape and torture of children.”

“Quite frankly, your Honor, the content is some of the worst that the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has seen,” Slaven said. “This involves very young children – many, many infant children.”

Online, Faucher fed his “sadistic and deviant” desires by chatting with people with similar interests, Slaven said, discussing fantasies that were alarming in their specificity: even outlining the gender, age and other details about children he would like to abuse.

“There are countless, countless, countless graphic chat conversations on his computer where he is very specific about how his sexual interests are evolving; he discusses in great detail the desires he has to sexually abuse and even kill children,” Slaven said.

….

Faucher’s attorney, Mark Manweiler, vigorously opposed the motion to increase bond.

Manweiler argued that the new charges were “quantitative” – more pornographic files discovered – but not a significant change in alleged conduct, meaning that Faucher is not any more likely to skip court.

“He’s 72 years old: Conviction of even a small number of these charges could likely result in a functional life sentence,” he said. “Whether he is charged with 500 counts or he’s charged with five, it makes no qualitative difference to his motivation or ability to appear at all his court appearances.”

The defense attorney also argued that Faucher has no prior criminal history, has complied with all GPS monitoring and other court conditions, and is not charged with any actual physical sexual contact with any children.

Although two people who say they were molested by the priest decades ago came forward after his arrest, Faucher has not been charged in those cases.

….

Update:

Channel 7 reported in October 2020:

A former priest who served at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Boise for decades before being arrested in a violent child pornography case that shook his parishioners and detectives alike is dead.

Father W. Thomas Faucher was 75. He was less than two years into a 25-year fixed prison sentence at the Idaho State Correctional Institution.

….

Faucher had already retired from his position as priest when police raided his diocese-owned home in northwest Boise in February of 2018, seizing thousands of violent and sexual images and videos, some of which showed victims as young as infants and toddlers being raped and tortured.

Prosecutors said later that the evidence collected in the case was among the most disturbing that members of the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children task force had ever encountered.

Detectives also recovered extensive online chat logs in which Faucher wrote about his desire to rape and murder a child, mused about sexually assaulting an altar boy at his church, and discussed traveling to South America to abduct and abuse a small boy before killing that child.

Faucher later told a judge he did not remember writing those messages, or sending an email containing photos of two children being sexually assaulted by adult men. He pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of child pornography, two counts of possession of child pornography and possession of LSD in September 2018, saying he wanted to “take responsibility” for what he had done.

Then-mayor Dave Bieter was among those to ask the judge for leniency at Faucher’s sentencing, writing in a letter that the priest had provided counsel and solace after the death of Bieter’s parents. The mayor later told KTVB that although he was “deeply disturbed and angry” about what Faucher had done, showing compassion and forgiveness are central tenets of his faith.

Although his defense attorney asked for probation, the sentence of 25 years without parole handed down by the judge all but guaranteed the retired priest would die behind bars.

Faucher was defrocked – officially removed from the position as clergy by the Vatican – after his conviction, and Idaho Court of Appeals upheld his 25-year sentence earlier this year.

Black Collar Crime: ELCA Pastor Steven Tibbetts Charged with Distributing Child Pornography

steven tibbetts

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 Tibbetts, pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Godfrey, Illinois, stands accused of distributing child pornography.

KMOV-4 reports:

Steven P. Tibbetts, 61, served as the head pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Godfrey.

….

Prosecutors say the investigation of Tibbetts began in August 2019 when the blogging and social network site, Tumblr, provided a cyber tip line report about one of its user accounts to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The account was searched by law enforcement and allegedly found to contain images and videos of nude minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

According to the complaint, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also received a tip from Twitter in February 2020 that one of its users had uploaded two images of suspected child pornography.

Investigators were allegedly able to trace the Tumblr and Twitter accounts back to Tibbetts’ home, where a federal search warrant was executed on June 18. A search of Tibbetts’ computer allegedly revealed the presence of additional child pornography images and videos. Agents then arrested Tibbetts at his home.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser