Tag Archive: Joshua Clemons

Black Collar Crime: So Much Crime, So Little Time Issue

black collar crime

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.

matthew and lauren phelps

Matthew Phelps Pleads Guilty to Murdering His Wife

I previously wrote about Matthew Phelps in posts titled Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor-in-Training Matthew Phelps Accused of Murdering His Wife and Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Preacher Matthew Phelps Stabs His Wife Repeatedly, Blames Cough Medicine.

Last week, Phelps pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the September 2017 death of his wife, Lauren Hugelmaier Phelps. Baptist News reports:

Defense attorney Joe Cheshire said his client suffered from untreated depression, anxiety and low self-esteem his entire life. Born to a 17-year-old unwed mother, he was raised by “deeply conservative Christian” grandparents who were farmers and unable to give him the attention he needed.

In high school he was introduced to Goth music, Satanism and eventually kicked out when he got caught abusing cold medicine. He transferred to a Christian school, where he turned around to become one of the best students and “a wonderful preacher.”

“As crazy as this may sound, he was a real Christian,” Cheshire said.

Phelps continued to preach and do well in college and “met what he thought was the love of his life.”

“Now there is some dispute as to how that marriage broke up or why, but we do know that she went on a mission trip alone after three years of their marriage and came back and told him that she fell in love with another man on her mission trip, and shortly thereafter left Matt and married this man,” the lawyer said.

After moving to North Carolina, Cheshire said, Phelps worked at various jobs where he met people “who took him to a bad place” that caused him to squander the family’s savings into video gaming. He was obsessed with American Psycho, a 2000 movie starring Christian Bale about an investment banker with a double life as a psychopathic killer, and reportedly told others he wondered what it would feel like to kill someone.

When his double life was discovered and his second wife was about to leave him, Cheshire said, Phelps “snapped, and what happened happened.”

At the end of the hearing, Phelps apologized for what he called “a senseless, mindless act.”

“I feel like a monster, one of the wretched, a part of the darkness we don’t speak of,” he said. “That darkness consumed me until I was blind to the path I had taken and deaf to my own cries for help. That darkness caused me to do the unimaginable, to take a life that was not mine to take.”

“No length of time will ease my inner sorrow or relieve me of the memory of such a godless act as my hands — which I thought incapable of doing — have committed, and I will have to live with the rest of my life with these hands as a constant reminder,” Phelps said.

“I hope my life will be an example of the consequences of those who think that drinking, drugs and carelessness will only affect themselves and no one else,” he said. “Be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatosoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”

Satan, booze, drugs, untreated depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and whatever the hell “carelessness” is, are blamed for Phelps’ murderous behavior.

brian batke

Another Cloverdale Church Leader Accused of Sex Crimes

In October 2017, I wrote a post about the alleged sexual assault allegations levied against Samuel Emerson, pastor of Cloverdale Church in Surrey, British Columbia, and his wife Madelaine. The Emersons have since pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Last week, Brian Batke, a former church elder, was accused of sexual assaulting a minor. News Vancouver reports:

… allegations against Batke date all the way back to 2005. The elder ended his association with the church that same year, according to police.

Surrey RCMP said the allegations against Batke, which were not reported to them until 2017, involve a victim who was underage at the time.

CTV News does not identify victims of sexual assault, and the case is subject to a publication ban that otherwise prevents identifying information from appearing in the media.

Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church did not return calls for comment from CTV News on Thursday, and 72-year-old Batke was not interested in speaking about the case outside court.

“No comment,” Batke said.

Apart from Batke’s association with the church, authorities revealed he has been a driver for the Coast Mountain Bus Company for about 13 years.

“We are releasing details on his community associations and employment because our investigators feel there may be other victims who have yet to come forward,” Cpl. Elenore Sturko said. “They’re looking to talk to these people, if they’re willing.”

TransLink, which runs Coast Mountain Bus Company, told CTV News that Batke has been placed on administrative leave and won’t be returning to work pending the outcome of the case.

mitchell fields

Evangelical Pastor Mitchell Fields Accused of Rape

Mitchell Richards, pastor of True Grace Fellowship Community Church in Montgomery, Alabama, stands accused of raping a teenager. The Montgomery Advertiser reports:

A Montgomery pastor was charged with rape this month after a grand jury indicted him in connection to an investigation that began in 2017, according to police.

Mitchell Ray Fields, pastor of True Grace Fellowship Community Church, was arrested and released on a $75,000 bond Tuesday, according to court records.

Montgomery police Capt. Regina Duckett said Thursday morning that a sexual assault investigation began against Fields on Jan. 15, 2017. A grand jury returned an indictment against Mitchell on the charge late last month.

The victim, whom Fields is related to, was a teenager at the time of the alleged assault, Duckett said.

In 2014, AL.com featured a story about Fields’ “miraculous” conversion and his desire to reach gang-bangers, drug addicts, and prostitutes with the transformative gospel of Christ. Fields told the reporter, “I tell them if God can deliver me then he can deliver you.”

meally freeman

Evangelical Pastor Meally Freeman Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Woman During “Deliverance” Session

Monday, Meally Freeman, pastor of Grace Mountaineer Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, was convicted of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Earlier this year, WCCO reported:

According to the complaint, a 28-year-old woman reported she was sexually assaulted by her pastor, Freeman, at the Grace Mountaineer Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn Center. The victim told police that she knew Freeman for several years and considered him her spiritual father.

She said she was seeking spiritual guidance on September 20, 2017 and Freeman told her she needed a one-on-one session before bible study.

The complaint says that the practice of the church is to anoint parishioners with oil. At the session, Freeman allegedly gave the victim oil to drink and they began to pray. The victim said she then “fell out” or became unconscious as part of the religious ritual. When she woke up, she had oil on her chest and her clothing was wet. Freeman allegedly told the victim that he anointed all places, but that he didn’t see all places.

According to the complaint, Freeman told the victim she needed a second session later that evening after bible study. They were alone again. The victim again “fell out” or became unconscious. When she woke up, she found her pants and underwear – that were ripped — were around her ankles. Her shirt and bra were also pulled up over her chest.

Freeman allegedly was spraying the victim with a water bottle filled with oil and then proceeded to sexually assault the victim. After the session was over, Freeman told the victim to pick her daughter up from the babysitter because he did not want people to know how late she was at the church.

After leaving the church, the victim spoke with a friend who advised her she had not received “deliverance” but was sexually assaulted.

The victim confronted Freeman while secretly recording him and he did not deny touching the victim’s genitals. In the recording, Freeman admitted to anointing the victim’s chest and said “we insert things into people”, according to the complaint.

Freeman allegedly also said that his wife knows he sees women naked and that some things happen during the “deliverance” event and that “you don’t ask what happens, you don’t go into details and that deliverance can be very tempting.”

The victim said both Freeman and his wife tried to convince her not to report the incident to police.

jonathan jenkins

Baptist Youth Pastor Jonathan Jenkins Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen Girl

Jonathan Jenkins, youth pastor at Starlight Baptist Church in Santa Ana, California stands accused of violently sexually assaulting a twelve-year-old girl in the church’s restroom. KTLA-5 reports:

He [Jenkins] first targeted the victim, who was 12 years old at the time, in January, prosecutors said. He allegely touched the girl’s buttocks while she was at church.

“Sometime in March 2018, the victim was attending service when she went to what she believed to be an empty restroom,” Santa Ana police officials said in a statement. “Jenkins was inside the restroom waiting for the victim. The victim attempted to escape, but Jenkins held her against her will. Jenkins threatened the victim with physical violence before (choking) and sexually assaulting the victim.”

Jenkins then attempted to commit lewd acts on the girl in April, and committed another molestation in July, district attorney’s officials said.

The victim did not report what had happened and continued attending the church, police said.

“On August 5, 2018, Jenkins contacted the victim at church and mocked her about the sexual assault,” the police statement said. “Jenkins told the victim if she reported this to the police, he would say she allowed the sexual assault to occur.”

The girl ultimately came forward, officials said. Santa Ana police launched an investigation and arrested Jenkins Tuesday.

He has prior felony conviction for robbery in Los Angeles County in 1983 and burglary in Orange County in 1986, prosecutors added.

joshua clemons

Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Having Sex with Church Teens

Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado was sentenced last week to seven years in prison for having sexual relations with at least three female church teenagers.

9-News reports:

Joshua Mark Clemons, 35, was sentenced last week to four years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, followed by 10 years of sex offender intensive supervised probation in the Parker case. Clemons’ plea agreement calls for three years in a related Denver case.

Clemons lived in Denver when he was employed by the Crossroads Church on Twenty Mile Road in Parker between 2008 and 2015.

During that time, he engaged in sex abuse with at least three of his students and inappropriate behavior with others, a 39-page arrest affidavit says.

One girl, who was 17 at the time, told Parker Police that Clemons used his position as youth pastor to manipulate her and get close to her, the DA’s office said. The mother of another girl told police Clemons is “a master manipulator not only of students, but adults, as well.”

Clemons pleaded guilty July 23 in the Parker case to one count of sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 4 felony and one count of attempted sex assault on a child by one in a position of trust, a Class 5 felony. Other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Clemons will be sentenced in the Denver case next month. His 4-year sentence in the Parker case will run consecutively with the three-year sentence he faces in Denver.

I previously wrote about Clemons here and here.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

joshua clemons

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 February, I reported the story of Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado, and his alleged sexual assault of a church teenager. In July, Clemons pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child. On Friday, Clemons was sentenced to four years in prison for his crime. After his release from prison, Clemons will have to serve ten years of intensive supervised probation.

Clemons also faces an October 19, 2018 sentencing in another case after he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault—strangulation and attempted sexual assault of a child.

ABC-7 reports:

Clemons pleaded guilty in July to one count of sexual exploitation of a child – video/20+ items and one count of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust – victim age 15-18 in the Douglas County case. Six other counts were dismissed in exchanged for the guilty plea.

Clemons, who worked as a pastor at the Parker church from 2006 through September 2015, had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who had long been in his program.

The relationship carried on as the girl went to college at Colorado State University before ending toward the end of 2016, when the alleged victim said Clemons began to show up at her new church and she threatened to get a restraining order, according to police documents.

Clemons also pleaded guilty in late July to second-degree assault—strangulation and attempted sexual assault of a child in the Denver case. He is scheduled to be sentenced for that case on Oct. 19. The sentence is expected to run consecutively to his sentence from the Douglas County case, a spokesperson for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said.

Black Collar Crime: So Many Crimes, So Little Time Issue

black collar crime

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.

jeannette jives nealy

Pastor Jeannette Jives-Nealy Convicted of Money Laundering

Jeannette Jives-Nealy, pastor of Kingdom Dominion Worldwide Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee, was accused of stealing $162,000 in government funds meant for feeding poor and hungry children. Last Friday, Jives-Nealy, was convicted of money laundering.  According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Jives-Nealy has a checkered past which includes a four-year stint in prison for bilking the State of Florida out of $200,000.

joshua clemons

Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes

Earlier this year, Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado was accused of sexually assaulting a teen church girl. You can read my previous post on Clemons here.  Monday, Clemons pleaded guilty to “one count of sexual exploitation of a child — video/20+ items and one count of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust – victim age 15-18.”

Denver-7 reports:

Clemons, who worked as a pastor at the Parker church from 2006 through September 2015, had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who had long been in his program.

The relationship carried on as the girl went to college at Colorado State University before ending toward the end of last year, when the alleged victim said Clemons began to show up at her new church and she threatened to get a restraining order, according to police documents.

Clemons is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. He faces between three and nine years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines for class 4 and 5 felonies.

norman abernathy

Baptist Youth Pastor Norman Abernathy Accused of Sexually Assaulting Two Church Girls

Norman Clay Abernathy, former youth pastor at Langston Baptist Church in Conway, South Carolina, is charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of second degree assault and battery. According to CB-Sumpter, Abernathy sexually assaulted two church girls at his home. The girls were visiting Abernathy’s daughter when the alleged assaults occurred.

According to the church’s pastor, Hampton Drum:

He came highly recommended. We do extensive background checks on all those who come to us. He did voluntary work all the way up to June of this year when he resigned for personal reasons. We now know those personal reasons are the accusations that came up.

What is an “extensive” background check? And how would such a check reveal past criminal sexual behavior? As churches are learning, background checks are not a cure-all for clergy and staff sexual misconduct.

pastor harry thomas

Evangelical Pastor Harry Thomas Withdraws Guilty Plea, Fears He Will Die in Prison

Harry Thomas, pastor of Come Alive Church in Medford, New Jersey and the founder of Creation Concerts (Festivals), was accused last year of sexually assaulting  four minors over a sixteen-year period. You can read my previous post about Thomas here.  In February, Thomas pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting several children.

The National Post reports that Thomas, facing twenty-years in prison, was supposed to be sentenced on Friday. Instead, Thomas withdrew his guilty plea.

chauncey walker

Evangelical Youth Pastor Chauncey Walker Pleads Guilty to Having Sex With Church Girl

Earlier this year, Chauncey Walker, youth pastor at Word of Life Ministries in Wichita, Kansas, was accused of having sex with a teen church girl. You can read my previous post on Walker here.  Friday, Walker pleaded guilty to having sex with a fifteen-year-old church girl.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

“She was 15 when it started, and it progressed from there,” the former youth pastor says on the recording, which was recorded by a relative of the girl without Walker’s knowledge. Under Kansas law, only one party needs to consent to recording a conversation.

After he had sex with the girl, she said he made her promise that if anyone asked, she was to say that it was her idea, according to an affidavit filed by a sheriff’s detective.

“Things with Walker started right after her 15th birthday,” she told a detective working the case. He “took her out for ice cream and flirted with her.” About a week later, he came to her parents’ house to see her. She said Walker was a close friend of her parents. She said she and Walker ended up in her bedroom and kissed for a while.

They later had sex at Ground Zero, the church’s youth building, in Walker’s car in the country, at his house and in different hotels, according to the girl’s account in the affidavit.

Once the allegations surfaced, Walker conceded, he wasn’t honest at first about her age “because, I’ll just be honest — I didn’t want to go to jail,” he said in the recording.

If Sedgwick County District Judge David Kaufman agrees to the terms of the plea deal, Walker will be sentenced to 95 months, or nearly 8 years.

ronnie gorton

Evangelical Worship Leader Ronnie Gorton Indicted on Additional Sex Crime Charges

In March 2018, Evangelical worship leader Ronnie Gorton was indicted on numerous sex crime charges. Gorton was employed by Awakening Church in Atoka, Tennessee. On July 10, 2018, Gorton was indicted on forty-four more sex crime charges. The Leader reports:

According to court documents, the new charges allege Gorton abused another teenaged victim from November 2014 until February 2018, when the initial accusation was made.

The 44-count indictment includes: rape of a child, 19 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, 19 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and five counts of violating the Child Protection Act, which is continuous sexual abuse of a child.

todd shane tomko

Evangelical Pastor Todd Tomko Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes

Last year, Todd “Rhino” Tomko, a disgraced U.S. Marine colonel and pastor of Parkview Church in Quincy, Illinois, was charged with “three counts of indecent liberties with a child, three counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of cruelty.” You can read my previous post on Tomko here.  Tomko later pleaded guilty, and on July 10, 2018, he was sentenced to eighteen-months in prison for his crimes.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Facing Sexual Assault Charges

joshua clemons

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.

Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado, stands accused of sexually assaulting a minor church girl.

ABC-7 reports:

A former youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church faces charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, and authorities are looking for more possible victims.

Joshua Clemons, 35, was arrested Tuesday by the Denver Police Department amid an ongoing investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted at least one member of the youth program he led.

Parker police say 18th Judicial District prosecutors have already filed three charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust against him.

Clemons worked as a youth pastor at the Parker church from 2008 through September 2015, the police department said.

Police said there are three incidents that allegedly occurred involving members of his youth group, and that the church brought the information to the department’s attention and was fully cooperating with the investigation.

According to police, the church brought the allegations to police in December 2016, but at the time, Clemons and the girl said they had a consensual relationship and the girl was 18 years old. But after further investigation from the church, it was discovered their relationship started before she was of age.

There were two other girls who were allegedly victims of Clemons’, police said.

….

Crossroads Community Church released the following statement:

Statement from Crossroads Community Church Board and Executive Leadership

Feb. 27, 2018

Today, a former youth pastor who was employed from 2006 to 2015 at Crossroads Community Church was arrested on charges related to alleged sexual abuse of three then-minor girls during his tenure at our church.

This arrest stems from allegations revealed to Crossroads on February 1, 2018, which we immediately reported to local law enforcement authorities.

Crossroads Community Church takes any inappropriate behavior with our young members very seriously. We are heartbroken and grieve with those who are victims of sexual assault and their families.

The individual facing charges resigned from Crossroads in 2015, citing work-related stress. In December 2016, the Crossroads Leadership Council was made aware that after he left church employment, he had apparently engaged in a relationship with an 18-year-old female who was formerly a member of his youth group.

Crossroads’ leadership immediately reported this information to local law enforcement, though no laws were alleged to have been broken.

On February 1, 2018, the mother of the young lady we learned about in 2016 contacted us to express her concern that this former youth pastor was being hired by another church in a position to oversee young people. She further informed us that she had recently learned her daughter’s relationship with this man had begun while her daughter was a minor, and that they believed there were other possible victims.

The same day the mother made us aware of these alleged criminal offenses, we immediately reported the new information to local law enforcement authorities and continue to fully cooperate with them during this investigation.

We have been praying for healing and restoration for any victims, known and unknown, and we ask our entire community to do the same.

We encourage anyone with information regarding potential criminal activity, especially any victims, to contact law enforcement immediately. The Parker Police Department may be reached at 303.841.9800, and the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is (844) CO-4-KIDS, or 844.264.5437.

For many years, Crossroads Community Church has had protocols in place—including a national background check that is performed on all employees when they are hired and again every two years—to try to ensure this would not happen. We also have written expectations of employees that include standards of conduct as safeguards for both our employees and those under their care.

In light of this situation, we are conducting a thorough review of our employment procedures and policies to ensure every safeguard is in place to protect anyone, especially young people, from any predatory behavior on our campus or at the hands of any employees or volunteers. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent such behavior, and swift and firm in dealing with any situation known to us.

ABC-7 reports:

The affidavit states that Clemons and the alleged victim knew each other since the girl was in fifth grade, but they didn’t begin a sexual relationship until September 2014 – when she was 17 years old.

The alleged victim told police that Clemons had admitted to kissing two other girls in the youth group but police didn’t provide any further details about those incidents.

The investigation began in February 2018, when the pastor at Crossroads Community Church informed police that the church learned of the relationship between Clemons and the alleged victim in December 2016. But Clemons claimed at the time that the affair didn’t begin until October 2015, several months after the girl turned 18.

The pastor reported the case in 2016 because he was concerned that the relationship had actually started when she was a minor, the affidavit states. At the time, police said no crime had been committed.

The pastor then went back to police in February of this year after hearing from the alleged victim’s mother, who was concerned that Clemons was being hired as a youth pastor by another church, according to a statement from church leadership.

In an interview with police a few days later, the alleged victim said she and Clemons first had sexual intercourse in June 2015 when she was a 17-year-old senior in high school, but they had kissed and had other sexual contact before then. Clemons was married at the time but told the girl that he wanted to divorce his wife to be with her, the affidavit states.

Clemons knew the girl was underage and even gave her a card with a message along the lines of “We’re legal” on her 18th birthday, according to the affidavit.

The relationship continued when the alleged victim graduated from high school and enrolled at Colorado State University, the affidavit states. The alleged victim told police that Clemons visited her almost daily and the two continued to have sex regularly.

At one point, Clemons went to a pharmacy and bought Plan B – the so-called “morning after pill” — and made the alleged victim take the medication.

The relationship ended in late 2017, the affidavit states, at which point the alleged victim said Clemons started “stalking” her and showing up at her new church. The alleged victim threatened Clemons with a restraining order, according to the affidavit.

….

Clemons’ church bio states:

I love the Broncos, ALL other Colorado Sports teams, and Batman. I eat hot cakes from McDonalds every single day, I’m a native of Colorado, and I got my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Metro (I wanted to be more like Batman), followed by a Master of Divinity degree with a specialization in Youth and Family at Denver Seminary. I love students and want to be more like Jesus everyday! In 2008 I married my lovely wife, Julia, a doctor in Denver hospitals. We have one other member of our family, Tulo (our super dog!). I have been loving on students at Crossroads since 2006.

“Loving on students” has a whole new meaning now that Clemons is facing sexual assault charges. Evidently, his criminal justice classes didn’t teach him that having sexual relations with minors and people you have authority over is a crime.