Tag Archive: Child Pornography

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jack Woodburn Accused of Enticing Teen Girls to Commit Online Sex Acts

jackie jack woodburn

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.

Jackie “Jack” Woodburn, assistant pastor of Colonial Woods Missionary Church in Port Huron, Michigan, stands accused of enticing teen girls to commit online sex acts. Woodburn, now retired, also directed the church’s Christian counseling center. The Detroit News reports that authorities have identified over fifty victims:

Among the more than 50 victims whom authorities identified was a 13-year-old Texas girl who recalled chatting with someone she met online in 2016 using the handle “JD Walker” and claiming to be a teenager, the document said. He requested sexually explicit photos and asked her to perform similar acts on a web camera, she told officials in an interview.

Identifying Woodburn through his IP address and internet provider, investigators executed a search warrant in February at the 63-year-old’s St. Clair County home. Woodburn said he used the JD name on the website and sought teen girls there, the court filing claims.

One of the two computers that law enforcement seized from his residence revealed at least 70,000 Skype chat messages between “jd windwalker” and others — most appearing to be with minors, including the Texas teen, an FBI special agent wrote.

During an exchange recorded late on April 25, 2016, “jd” ordered the girl to expose and touch herself, the affidavit showed. When a storm cut electricity at Woodburn’s house, she apparently left.

“I’m really bummed out that we lost power….YOU are so very very beautiful and sexy….when you be home tomorrow after you home from school?????” he wrote, according to the message log agents obtained.

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Daniel Ramos Charged With Possession of Child Porn

daniel ramos

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.

Daniel Ramos, a youth pastor at Victory Worship Center Church of God in Chicago, Illinois has been charged with possession or exhibition of child pornography, indecent solicitation and grooming.  According to the Chicago Tribune, in August 2017 church leaders were made aware of allegations against Ramos and promptly reported them to law enforcement. Kudos to the church for reporting the alleged crimes.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Johannes Vermeer Facing Child Pornography Charges

pastor john vermeer

Johannes (John) Vermeer, pastor of Main Street Church in Chilliwack, BC, faces several charges related to child pornography. As is the custom among Evangelicals, Vermeer’s web presence has been scrubbed from the church’s website.

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.

Paul Henderson, a reporter for the Langley Times, writes:

The executive pastor of Main Street Church is facing multiple child pornography charges.

Johannes (John) Vermeer was arrested a week and a half ago and had his first court appearance March 29, facing four child porn charges.

The 58-year-old faces one count each of possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography from May 1, 2010. He also faces the same charges with an offence date of March 17, 2015.

The Progress learned that senior pastor Shawn Vandop informed the congregation about the charges at both services on Sunday at the downtown Chilliwack church. Vandop confirmed that Monday, stating that members of the congregation met the news with “shock.”

“It’s not something that we want to hear or want to deal with but we live in a broken and messy world with a lot of pain,” he said, adding that right from the beginning of the investigation, church staff were co-operative.

“We actually reported this to police when we heard there was this activity on the computer system,” Vandop said.

Once they were able to, Vandop felt it best to inform everyone in the church rather than let rumours fester. He added that it was important they make it clear Vermeer is no longer an employee of the church in case there was any perception of risk to kids as they offer many programs for youth.

“No child in our care is impacted by this situation,” he said. “That’s really important.”

Vermeer was in the news in 2011 when the congregation of Promontory Community Church first purchased the Liquidation World building at Main Street and Princess Avenue in 2011. In 2013, the downtown ministry was named Main Street Church while Promontory one was renamed Hillside Community Church.

In 2014, the two churches came together under one roof at the ever-expanding location on Main Street.

Vermeer has served as executive pastor – an administrative role – for the church since 2009.

Vermeer was a member of the city’s downtown core task force and was elected to the 2011/2012 Downtown Business Improvement Association board.

Vermeer is also an executive committee member of the B.C. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (BCMB), but as of March 29, 2018, his profile photo and bio are no longer on the www.bcmb.org website.

….

Black Collar Crime: Ex-Baptist Pastor George Baker Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

george baker

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.

George Baker, an ex-Southern Baptist pastor and seminary professor, was arrested March 23, 2018 for possession of child pornography.

The Burleson Star reports:

On the surface, George Baker appeared to have everything. A job helping others, a beautiful fiancé who he was building a life with and doing some university-level teaching. All of that came to a crashing halt on March 23 when he was arrested for possession of child pornography.

“The entire time we were going out, he never mentioned that he had a problem,” Stephanie Conroy, Baker’s now ex-fiance, told the Star. “He said he was helping people addicted to porn, not that he himself had a problem.” [a problem? Is that what possessing child pornography is now, a “problem?’]

Conroy was checking email in a bedroom of the house they shared on Alsbury Blvd., when one of her children walked in and said that there were some police who wanted to speak with her.

“At first I sort of laughed it off, I thought he was making a joke,” Conroy said. “But I followed him into the kitchen and there were two police officers in there. At first I thought my oldest son had been in an accident, but then they told me that they had been investigating George for over a year.”

According to BPD Officer Wes Routson, Baker had uploaded a pornographic image of a child from his computer.

“We’ve been looking at him for awhile,” Routson said. “But one reason it took so long is that we had to send his computer off to be looked at. When you are doing forensic investigations on computers you have to get in line at the state for someone to do it, and thats why it dragged out.”

Baker was arrested and transferred to the Johnson County jail, where he posted bond for $100,000.

Baker had most recently been working for ‘Feed the Right Wolf,’ as a life coach helping people overcome sex and porn addiction.

Craig Perry, owner of ‘Feed the Right Wolf,’ knew that Baker had a problem with teen porn and described him as a “great man who made a mistake.” [uh, teens are still minors. Again, here’s that “problem” word again.]

Perry said that even though he knew Baker had a record of viewing child porn, he hired him anyway.

“I was so impressed by his recovery and his skill set, I let him take my certification course where I train therapists and counselors,” he said. “It didn’t look like this was going to happen again, but when it did, we terminated him immediately.”  [How did Perry KNOW it wouldn’t happen again?]

Baker had also taught at TCU’s at Brite Divinity School in 2011 as  a teaching assistant while pursuing his Ph.D., in philosophy. Baker also claimed that he was the program manager of the Soul Repair Center at Brite from July 2012 to July 2015, though the Star could not confirm that. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was also the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Stamford, Texas, from 1998-2001, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour, Texas, from 2001-2003 and pastor of First Baptist church in Weinart, Texas, from 2003-2006.

“He was completely normal around me and my kids,” Conroy said.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Childcare Worker Benjamin Roberts Accused of Sex Crimes

benjamin roberts

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.

Benjamin Roberts worked for several church sponsored childcare facilities in Abilene, Texas. He was arrested yesterday on child sex crime and child pornography charges. Law enforcement is now focused on Wylie Baptist Church Child Development Center. Other people could could be arrested for failure to report child abuse.

Fox-4 reports:

An Abilene man with a history of working with kids has been arrested on child sex crime and child porn charges.

Benjamin Russell Roberts, 24, is charged with indecency with a child and possession of child pornography. His bond was set at $150,000 on each charge.

Roberts was arrested Wednesday after police served a warrant in a north Abilene home. Roberts “admitted to and was found to be in possession of child pornography,” according to the arrest report.

Abilene police said they had info that an unknown person downloaded child pornography from July 19 through Sept. 26, 2017. The investigation began on Feb 27.

On Wednesday, the cyber crimes division was able to identify Roberts as the person who was downloading child porn at his residence. Police said he lived at a community outreach home.

Police seized several devices — a Dell laptop, two iPhone 4s, a Samsung Galaxy, Sony USB — which contained child pornography. They also found “one pair of children’s underwear,” said Sgt. Lynn Beard. No children lived at the home.

Beard said Roberts admitted “to inappropriately touching a child under 12 years old last year.”

According to police, Roberts has worked at least three places where he was in contact with children, including the Wylie Baptist Church’s Child Development Center, Southern Hills Church of Christ daycare and the Beltway Park Church youth program.

….

Beard said each of the entities was “completely shocked” when they told them. He said one of them described Roberts as one of their best teachers.

….

An April 4, 2018 KTXS-12 report states:

The director of the child development center at Wylie Baptist Church has been fired.

The director’s dismissal comes in the wake of the arrest of a 24-year-old Abilene man on child sex crime charges. Before being taken into custody last week, Benjamin Russell Roberts had previously worked at Wylie Baptist Church’s Child Development Center and youth programs associated with at least two other Abilene churches.

Wylie Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor Mike Harkrider issued a statement Wednesday.

“As you all know Wylie Baptist Child Development Center has been working closely with the Abilene Police Department and the Department of Family and Protective Services in regards to the Benjamin Roberts investigation. At this point in the investigation, the acting director of the Wylie Baptist Child Development Center, has been released from her position as per the Department of Family and Protective Services. The investigation is still ongoing and this is all we know at this time. We are in heartfelt prayer for all of those involved in this difficult situation — Wylie Baptist Church CDC Board of Directors”

When asked the name of Wylie Baptist CDC director, Harkrider said, “The information given on the previous email is all that we can give at this time.”

….

KTXS-12 reports:

A south Abilene church daycare involved in a child sex crime investigation has been cited 19 times by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services since March of 2016.

Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said that they have been working closely with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services during this investigation.

On the DFPS website, it states that the Wylie Baptist CDC was cited 19 times for deficiencies during inspections, with risk levels ranging from medium to high.

Three of the citations involved supervision of children and had a high risk level.

….

Police also said on Wednesday that the director was fired and could face charges. Wylie Baptist CDC was cited March 9, 2016 after “it was determined that the director is not routinely present at the operation,” according to DFPS.

Roberts, who did not have a previous criminal record, had passed a background check, but the child care center was twice cited, April 28, 2016 and August 10, 2016, for not updating background checks on its employees.

….

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.

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Donald Biggs Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

donald biggs

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.

Donald Biggs, youth pastor at Mtn. Church in Medford, Oregon, pleaded guilty Friday to “one count of transporting with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.”

The Mail Tribune reports:

A former Medford youth pastor faces 10 to 15 years in prison after admitting he secretly recorded a juvenile in a bathroom.

In a U.S. District courtroom in Medford filled with youths, parents and church leaders he betrayed, Donald Courtney Biggs, 39, pleaded guilty Friday to a single felony count of transporting with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The guilty plea spares Biggs, formerly a youth pastor at Mtn. Church in downtown Medford, and dozens of victims Biggs allegedly recorded in secret, from a weeks-long trial that was set to start later this month.

In his green Jackson County Jail uniform, Biggs made no statements and avoided eye contact with the audience. No victims made statements during the hearing, but U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken told victims she will allot as much time as needed to accommodate them at a sentencing hearing currently set for June.

Biggs has remained lodged in the jail since January 2015 following an investigation of inappropriate texting with minor girls in the church, according to earlier news reports.

The reports of inappropriate texting with minor girls led investigators to find recordings of adult and juvenile women in various stages of undress, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Potter, who is prosecuting the case.

The single charge specifies that Biggs recorded a juvenile exiting the shower during a March 2013 church trip to Huntington Beach, California, Potter said. As part of the negotiated agreement, nine other transportation and child pornography charges were dropped.

….

Outside the courthouse, Mtn. Church lead pastor and founder Jim Wright expressed a mix of anger, faith in the justice system and the need for forgiving hearts as he supported victims and parents. At his services last weekend, after recent news updates brought feelings about the case back to the surface, he cautioned his congregation not to let healthy anger become bitterness.

“I’ve been walking these families through this for three years,” Wright said, adding later that children in his congregation, many now young adults, “have had to walk through incredibly deep valleys.”

Wright also expressed frustration, which he said was mostly for the families, that Biggs dragged out his case since early 2015. He said he believes Biggs pleaded “under the notion of a deal, not a contrite heart.”

Though Wright put his congregation’s feelings of betrayal far ahead of his own, Wright said Biggs had been someone he trusted. Biggs had been Mtn. church staff for roughly six years, but Wright had known Biggs for close to two decades. Wright started Mtn. Church 11 years ago.

….

On February 7, 2018, the Mail Tribune reported:

Three years after a Medford church burglary sparked the seizure of dozens of videos of minors undressing inside his home, a former youth pastor is scheduled to stand trial on child pornography charges in federal court later this month.

A judge denied a motion Tuesday to reschedule Donald Courtney Biggs’ Feb. 26 trial, according to filings in U.S. District Court in Medford. Dozens of witnesses will be called to testify against the former Mtn. (Mountain) Church youth pastor in a trial anticipated to last two weeks.

Recent filings by U.S. attorneys provide new details in the case against Biggs, 39, alleging he secretly took videos of minor girls changing at his home during church events and on church trips to California between June 2012 and March 2014. Biggs faces nine counts of using or attempting to use a minor to produce a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct, and three counts of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The more than 40 witnesses federal prosecutors intend to call include minors Biggs had been tasked with supervising at church activities, their parents and church employees.

Minors who participated in church activities are anticipated to testify that Biggs often encouraged “messy” activities or pranks that would require kids to change or shower during church activities, and would advise girls to bring a change of clothes, according to prosecutors. At church camps, Biggs allegedly would design “punishments” such as covering a kid in syrup and flour.

Minor girls and minor boys would use different bathrooms, and boys were often ostracized or isolated from the group, court documents allege.

Other witnesses U.S. attorneys have interviewed describe one-on-one meetings between Biggs and minor girls at the church and coffee shops, the documents say. Biggs would pick up minors from school to take them to lunch without parents’ knowledge or consent, would give girls back and shoulder rubs, would instruct girls to lie to their parents about where they were going, and would buy them clothes, the documents claim. Biggs allegedly texted some girls several times a day with phrases such as “love you to the moon and back,” “You are beautiful,” “I love you” and “Missed you last night,” according to court documents.

Inappropriate text messages sparked the investigation, according to a document filed Monday.

At the end of November 2014, police first investigated Biggs following a report of inappropriate texts between him and a minor, but police prematurely closed the investigation without reading the messages after the victim’s father told police there was nothing wrong.

Police reopened the inquiry Dec. 26, 2014, when the church relayed a letter from a victim’s grandparent alleging Biggs used “coercion techniques,” saying at different times he’d buy the girl clothing, solicit photographs or tell the girl “she made him sad or made him cry.” Biggs allegedly used software to wipe the contents of his phone before submitting the device to a digital forensic search, according to court documents.

When confronted, Biggs allegedly threatened that the church “would go down in flames” if they got him in trouble, according to a church employee prepared to testify. The church placed Biggs on leave by the beginning of January 2015.

Medford police arrested Biggs Jan. 15, three days after he triggered the church’s burglary alarm allegedly to steal computer hard drives. During police questioning, prosecutors say, Biggs made admissions that shifted investigators’ focus toward recordings.

….

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest W. Thomas Faucher Arraigned on Child Pornography 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.

W. Thomas Faucher, a Catholic priest with the Diocese of Boise, has been charged with sexual exploitation of a child, distributing sexually exploitative material involving children, and felony drug possession.

The Idaho Statesman reports:

Hundreds of images of child pornography and drugs including marijuana, ecstasy and LSD were found in the home of a retired Boise priest, a prosecutor said at a Monday court hearing.

Longtime Catholic Rev. W. Thomas Faucher, 72, was brought into court in a wheelchair Monday evening for his arraignment on 14 different charges.

Most of the crimes involve Idaho’s law against child pornography: He is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and two counts of distributing sexually exploitative material involving children. His last two charges are both for drug possession. All of the charges, except one of the drug counts, are felonies.

….

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Kassandra Slaven offered more context Monday. She said some images on Faucher’s computer involved young children, including infants and toddlers. The images included children being subjected to different sexual acts and torture, she said.

Slaven also described email conversations where Faucher reportedly traded images and talked about his “sexual interest in children.” She said Faucher has a “very sophisticated knowledge” of exchanging and viewing child pornography. And in certain chats investigators viewed, she said, he expressed a desire to molest children. One such chat screen was open on his computer when police served the search warrant, she said.

Faucher talked in the chat about his “desires to rape and kill children,” Deputy Prosecutor Cathy Guzman said at a probable cause hearing earlier Monday.

Judge Michael W. Lojek ordered Faucher held on $250,000 bond — half of what Slaven sought — and directed him to have no contact with any children under 18. He is also forbidden from using the internet.

Faucher’s attorney, Mark Manweiler, argued that his client should be released, pointing to Faucher’s lack of criminal record and “impeccable reputation.” Manweiler said the priest answered five hours’ worth of questions from police, and said there has never been a claim of abuse or impropriety aimed at Faucher despite the “tens of thousands” of children his client has been around.

Manweiler also argued against the no-contact order. He said Faucher was expected to have many community members visit after leaving jail, and he did not want his client to unintentionally violate the order if visitors brought a child with them.

“(Faucher) is well-liked and well-known,” Manweiler said. “He counts among his good friends people at the highest level of both branches, both of state government and our local government and some judicial officials here in Ada County.”

….

Faucher grew up in Boise and attended Saint Mary’s as a child. He was ordained in Boise on June 4, 1971, and returned here in 2002 to serve at Saint Mary’s. He joined Saint Mary’s just one month after revelations that a deacon there had viewed child porn.

Faucher has long criticized the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse by its priests. Earlier in 2002, while based at Sisters, Oregon, he told one gathering that the church was looking the wrong way at incidents of molested children, and that Cardinal Bernard Law “should resign” for the events eventually documented in the 2015 movie “Spotlight.”

….

 

 

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Church Volunteer Jeffrey Eisenbath Charged With Possession of Child Porn

jeffrey eisenbath

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.

Jeffrey Eisenbath, a volunteer children’s religious education teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Troy, Missouri, has been charged with felony invasion of privacy and possession of child pornography.

Jared Gilmour, a reporter for the Idaho Statesman, writes:

Detectives were called to a laser tag and bumper car complex in St. Charles, Mo., last week after the business made an disturbing discovery: Hidden in the Adrenaline Zone bathroom was a secret camera, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

When investigators watched the camera’s recording on Jan. 15, it didn’t take long to figure out who had installed the device, they said. The camera had captured Jeffrey Eisenbath, a 28-year-old Adrenaline Zone employee, as he placed the camera in the bathroom to spy on those who entered, according to detectives.

Eisenbath, detectives learned, was out of town until Jan. 22 — so they got a search warrant for computer and recording devices at his Troy, Mo., residence, according to the sheriff’s office.

Ultimately, detectives seized five hidden cameras, a computer and memory drives. Then, as Eisenbath was driving in Wentzville, Mo., on Monday, he was arrested, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said.

Searching Eisenbath’s home revealed more than 1,000 videos showing child pornography involving young girls, KMOV reports. Eisenbath said he is “addicted to child pornography,” according to police.

Eisenbath admitted to authorities that he had secretly installed the camera the Adrenaline Zone bathroom — and also that he had hidden another camera in a bathroom by the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Troy, where Eisenbath had volunteered, according to the sheriff’s office.

“This is a case of an individual crime that affects many unsuspecting people,” Lincoln County Sheriff John Cottle said in a statement. “The Archdiocese of St. Louis has stringent background screenings of volunteers but it cannot always catch their secret habits. This is why law enforcement has cybercrime task forces in place, to catch individuals like Mr. Eisenbath.”

Eisenbath has been charged in St. Charles County with felony invasion of property. He’s being held at the St. Charles County Jail under a $25,000 cash only bond, according to the sheriff’s office. In Lincoln County, Eisenbath has been charged with felony invasion of privacy and possession of child pornography. Bond for the Lincoln County charges is set at $100,000 cash only.

….

 

The Archdiocese of St. Louis has issued a statement condemning Eisenbath’s alleged actions.

“The allegations against Mr. Jeffrey Eisenbath, if true, are a disturbing and unacceptable abuse of the trust we place in the employees and volunteers at our parishes and schools,” the Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a statement to KSDK. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities in their investigation and will communicate with those impacted as we continue to learn more about the allegations.”

Eisenbath had traveled with the church on mission trips across the country — including trips on which he would have had contact with young people, according to court records reviewed by KMOV.

Adrenaline Zone, where police say Eisenbath worked, says on its website that it hosts children’s parties and school events, offering laser tag, bumper cars a laser maze and more.

….

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Gerald Hechenberger Accused of Possessing Child Porn

gerald hechenberger

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.

Gerald Hechenberger, associate pastor of Holy Childhood of Jesus Catholic Church and school in Mascoutah, Illinois, stands accused of possessing child pornography.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports:

The associate pastor of Holy Childhood Church and school in Mascoutah was taken into police custody Monday morning, according to the state’s attorney.

The priest was identified as the Rev. Gerald R. Hechenberger.

“We have been working with Belleville (Police) and the task force for several weeks and we anticipate they will be submitting evidence collected pursuant to a search warrant we issued within the next 48 hours to be reviewed for charges involving Gerald Hechenberger,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said.

Earlier in the day, Belleville Police issued a statement saying a Mascoutah resident was identified as being in possession of child pornography, but the police statement did not identify the resident. A police captain confirmed that Belleville police officers were at the church at 419 East Church St. around 7 a.m. Monday.

A statement from Bishop Edward K. Braxton said Hechenberger was taken into custody by St. Clair County authorities, but did not say why.

“This is a very serious matter for Father Hechenberger,” the diocese statement said. “At this point, the diocese has no reason to believe that any parishioners are affected by this matter. The diocese is awaiting an update on information from the civil authorities, and has assured them of the diocese’s full cooperation.”

….

Holy Childhood School parents received an email Monday morning from the Principal Claudia Dougherty, saying Hechenberger was being investigated.

“Good morning, Father Jerry is under investigation. We will share more information when we have it. Your children are safe and sound — primary children are enjoying lunch! Blessings, Claudia,” the email read.

The email, sent at 10:51 a.m., followed a previous message from Dougherty sent at 8:15 a.m., which read, “Good morning, the Belleville police are at the rectory/church. I was notified that they were there, however was not informed as to why. Your children are here, they are safe and sound. Please know that we keep a close eye on all of them! Blessings, Claudia.”

….

In 2011, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported:

The priest at St. John the Baptist parish in Smithton abruptly took a leave of absence last week to address “very serious personal, pastoral and legal challenges,” according to a letter circulated by the Belleville Diocese.

The letter, obtained by the Post-Dispatch, said the Rev. Gerald R. Hechenberger spoke with Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton and agreed the temporary leave was necessary. The letter, sent to priests and deacons, didn’t directly state the source of the challenges.

“In the present climate, it is important for you to know that the serious matters we are addressing do not involve the abuse of a minor,” wrote the Rev. John McEvilly, the diocese’s vicar general.

It added: “It will probably be several months before it can be determined when or if Father Hechenberger will be able to return to parish ministry.”

….

The Daily News reports:

A Catholic priest with a checkered history was arrested on child pornography and drug charges.

Rev. Gerald R. Hechenberger of the Holy Childhood Catholic Church in Mascoutah, Illinois, was arrested on Monday morning and held on $2 million bail.

Acting on a tip from the Attorney General’s task force, police seized electronic devices at the church and found multiple photographs and a video involving children under the age of 13.

“It is unknown at this time if Hechenberger produced any of the images himself, or if he has had any inappropriate contact with children directly,” the Belleville police said, adding that parents with suspicions regarding the priest’s behavior should contact authorities.

Hechenberger, who was charged with eight counts of possession and eight counts of disseminating child porn, was also found with methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

….

Hechenberger was charged with drunken driving in 1983 and driving under the influence in 1989, although both charges were later dismissed.

In 2004, Hechenberger pleaded guilty to trespassing after he was found shirtless in a parking lot, according to a police report cited by the News-Democrat.

On January 20, 2018, Hechenberger’s superior, Bishop Edward K. Braxton, issued the following letter:

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with all of you!

I am writing to you concerning the very sad and distressing event of the departure of the Reverend Gerald R. Hechenberger, who had served as Associate Pastor of your parishes from August 15, 2014 until I relieved him of his positions on January10, 2018. Since he was arrested, taken into custody by law enforcement authorities, and charged with multiple felonies having to do with the possession and dissemination of inappropriate images of children and the drug crystal methamphetamine on January 8, 2018, I have been praying for all of you. I have been praying in a special way for anyone who may have been adversely affected directly or indirectly by his behavior. I am praying for Father Hechenberger as well. I am deeply sorry for the distress that these events may have caused you and your families, especially your dear children.

I am aware that you may have questions about many aspects of this scandalous event. I will answer some of your questions in this letter. However, I cannot answer all of your questions because, like you, I do not know the answers. For, example, like you, I do not know what the eventual legal consequences of all of this will be for Father Hechenberger. The Diocese has assured civil authorities of its full cooperation. I write not from a legal perspective but from the perspective of your Bishop. I write with a genuine pastoral concern for the personal and spiritual wellbeing of each of you and everyone in the Diocese of Belleville. For this reason, counselors have already been made available to the communities involved. I have also informed Father Wienhoff that I would be happy to meet with him and representatives from your parishes to listen to your observations and discuss these matters further, if that would be beneficial.

First, I must assure you that neither I, nor my Vicar General, Monsignor John W. McEvilly, nor your Pastor, Reverend Paul R. Wienhoff, nor any Diocesan personnel had any knowledge that Father Hechenberger had inappropriate images of minor children in his possession before the morning of his arrest. We have no record of any allegations of any prior possession of such materials. His files do not contain any expressions of concern in this regard from priests, parishioners, parents, or staff members and any of his previous pastoral assignments. We have no documents suggesting any past misconduct with minors. Our records show that he was compliant with our Diocesan Child Protection Policy through September 19, 2017, when his refresher course expired. Compliance includes clear background checks conducted by the Department of Child and Family Services, specific to child abuse allegations (CANTS) and a name­based criminal investigation through the Illinois State Police. None of his prior leaves of absence or sabbaticals were related to allegations of inappropriate conduct with minors.

Second, because of the serious charges filed against him, I have placed Father Hechenberger on Administrative Leave from ministry when I terminated his pastoral assignments. I further instructed him not to exercise the ministry of the Priesthood at any time in any place. Nor may he present himself in public as a Priest. Therefore, he is not to wear clerical attire including the Roman collar.

Third, when I met with Father Hechenberger at the St. Clair County Jail on Tuesday morning, January 16, 2018, he asked me to express to all of you how deeply remorseful he is for the pain, confusion, frustration, and anger that he has caused you and everyone in the Diocese. He specifically asked me to tell you that he has never physically harmed or abused a child in any circumstance throughout his years of ministry. He wanted me to assure you of his prayers for you and he asks that you pray for him as well. Obviously, considering the seriousness of his offense, he is aware that some of you might find his expressions of sorrow and regret to be insufficient to warrant your forgiveness, or even your prayers.

Fourth, when something of this nature happens, it is only natural to think that surely someone must have known that this was happening or at least that it was a possibility. But we all know that there is no fool­proof way of knowing what misdeeds a person might commit, even if they are receiving counseling for unrelated matters. Every human being is quite complex and some individuals might be unaware themselves of things they might do in certain circumstances.

Finally, I am aware that events such as this, involving only one priest, have the potential of casting a cloud of suspicion or mistrust over other priests. I ask you to remember that we are all redeemed sinners who must make every effort to avoid judging others. Please renew your support, concern, encouragement, appreciation and affection for all of our priests who serve you so unselfishly in this Diocese. Pray for them as well, as they pray for you at every Mass.

In this Sunday morning’s gospel, Jesus proclaims: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” We all, priests and people alike, need to hear and heed these words, today more than ever.

Let us all pray for one another!

A March 1, 2018 Belleville News-Democrat report states:

Almost two months after a Mascoutah priest was accused of possessing child pornography and drugs, parents and church members say they’re frustrated they haven’t received answers from the Belleville Catholic Diocese.

Specifically, they want to know whether any local children were abused — and to what extent the diocese knew about the Rev. Gerald Hechenberger’s troubled past when they assigned him to Mascoutah.

The community also asks why the diocese won’t provide answers.

On Jan. 9, Hechenberger, former associate pastor of Holy Childhood Church and School in Mascoutah, was charged with possessing and distributing child pornography and possession of methamphetamine.

“I think it would be a good idea to explain why this man was passed along and say, ‘why did you do that?’ and not just leave us in the dark,” said Sandra Parks, a former Holy Childhood school board member. “I just wish Bishop Braxton would explain why, in the light of these problems, you would retain and pass the problems along to the next place.”

Bishop Edward K. Braxton did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the BND.

Hechenberger also declined a request for an interview. He has been freed on $25,000 cash for bond after a judge lowered his original $2 million bail.

In response to the charges, a lifelong friend of Hechenberger’s, Anne Hannigan of Belleville, said Hechenberger has a drug problem and blamed the church for not helping the priest with his addiction.

“I think this is a high-tech crucifixion,” Hannigan said in an interview. “They said terrible things about Christ and they said terrible things about Gerald Hechenberger. Furthermore, the church cannot wash their hands in this blame game and the tragedy which has occurred in his life.”

Hannigan, who said she’s been friends with the priest for 40 years, said the church knew of Hechenberger’s alleged drug problem about five years ago and did not offer him help in fighting his addiction.

….

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Minister Owen Robertson Accused of Sexually Exploiting a Minor

owen robertson

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.

Owen Robertson, education minister at First Baptist Church in Easley, South Carolina, has been charged with “nine counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.”

Mike Ellis, a reporter for the Independent Mail, writes:

Owen Robertson, a former education minister at Easley First Baptist Church, has been charged with nine counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Warrants allege that the images investigators found show minors “engaging in sexual activity or appearing in a state of sexually explicit nudity” and the incidents occurred at the same address as the church. Robertson has not been on staff at the church since approximately March, when the church became aware of “issues,” said Nelson Ponder, a deacon who spoke on the church’s behalf.

Ponder said he could not detail what issues led to the separation, but he said the church became aware Friday that Robertson had been formally charged. Robertson had been at the church for several years, Ponder said.

He said church leaders will be listening to their congregation for any reports of Robertson’s conduct, but he has not heard from anyone as of Wednesday morning.

The warrants indicate that the alleged crimes happened on or about Feb. 10, and the warrants were signed on DeC. 14. The warrants say the images were in Robertson’s possession.

….

According to Robertson’s bio on First Baptist’s website:

Dr. Owen Robertson grew up in Greenville, SC, where he attended Mauldin First Baptist. He graduated from Mars Hill College, Southwestern Seminary, and Southern Seminary. Owen loves acting, writing, reading, going to movies, and spending time with his family. He secretly dreams of one day owning a humongous television and a catamaran. Owen uses his gifts to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in new and creative ways.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Ryan Crawford Accused of Sex Crimes

child image on first baptist church website

Picture of children on First Baptist Church’s Youth Page. I wonder if this is what Pastor Crawford’s photos looked like.

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.

Ryan Crawford, assistant pastor, choir director, Sunday school director, youth/teens director at First Baptist Church in Pineville, Missouri, stands accused of having “illicit and inappropriate photographs of a young female on his cell phone.”

KOAM-7 reports:

A 32-year-old Youth Pastor Pineville, Missouri, man is arrested after a report to the local police department alleging he had illicit and inappropriate photographs of a young female on his cell phone. Initially, the investigation of Ryan Crawford was conducted jointly by the Pineville Police Department and the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office.

The children were referred to the Children’s Center in Joplin, MO, and subsequent to those interviews, Crawford was interviewed by the investigator of the McDonald County Prosecutor’s office. During that interview, Crawford made statements that were corroborative of the allegations against him.

Prosecutor Bill Dobbs initially filed charges of child molestation in the first degree, a class A felony, and sexual misconduct in the first degree, a class E felony. However, based upon additional allegations, the initial complaint has been amended to reflect an additional four (4) counts of child molestation in the first degree, bringing the total number of felony counts to six. These acts allegedly occurred in Crawford’s home.

….

A January 30, 2018 Joplin Globe report states:

A Pineville man waived a preliminary hearing Monday on child molestation charges and was ordered bound over for trial.

Ryan D. Crawford, 32, waived the hearing in McDonald County Circuit Court on five counts of first-degree child molestation and a single count of sexual misconduct with a child. Associate Judge John LePage set Crawford’s initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Feb. 26.

The defendant was arrested on the charges in December following an investigation by Pineville police and the McDonald County Sheriff’s Department of a report that he had illicit photographs of a minor on his cellphone.

A probable-cause affidavit states that Crawford had told of having “had a porn problem” and that he had been “watching” porn on his cellphone. The McDonald County prosecutor later indicated in a news release that an unspecified number of suspected child victims were interviewed at the Children’s Center in Joplin before an interview of the defendant in December when he allegedly admitted having touched a child younger than 14 inappropriately while she was sleeping.

The affidavit states that the defendant further acknowledged that his addiction to pornography and related misconduct with children had been “going on for a long time.”

….