Tag Archive: Old Time Baptist Church Buffalo

Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Ronald Burning Granted Parole After Only Serving Six Years for Sexual Assault

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.

Ronald Burning, former pastor of Johnsfield Baptist Church in Ohsweken, Ontario — located on the Six Nations Indian Reservation — was granted parole after only serving a six year prison sentence for sexually assaulting children, women, and men over a thirty year period. Burning was affiliated with Old Time Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York — a staunch King James Only Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church.

The Brantford Expositor reports:

Six Nations pastor Ronald Burning, convicted in 2012 of a series of sexual assaults on children, women and men over 30 years, has been granted full parole from prison.

Now 65, Burning was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years for four counts of indecent assault of a female. two counts of sexual assault, indecent assault of a male, forcible confinement and criminal harassment, He received credit for his pre-trial custody on a 1 1/2 days for every one day served, giving him a total of 612 days of credit.

At his trial, the minister pleaded not guilty. He launched an appeal of the verdict by Justice Kim Carpenter-Gunn but abandoned his fight in May 2014.

It wasn’t until last June, when Burning was before the parole board, that he confessed his full guilt.

He later admitted he had been trying to protect himself and his family by denying his offences.

Before his arrest, the preacher also was principal of an independent school associated with his congregation, Johnsfield Baptist Church on Fifth Line. Throughout his trial, he received strong support from members of the church and American members of the church’s umbrella organization, Old Time Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y.

Victims who testified during Burning’s trial included: a woman who was sexually groomed and assaulted as a teen; a second woman who Burning assaulted for 11 years, beginning when she was a pre-schooler; a female church employee who was blackmailed into performing sexual acts; a woman who caught Burning peeping at her through a vent in the women’s washroom in the church; and two men who said the pastor molested them when they were young.

Last December, Burning was granted day parole and has been living in a federal halfway house at an undisclosed location.

According to the Parole Board of Canada’s decision to grant him full release, Burning has been spending weekends at his wife’s home, where he now will take up residence.

The report said Burning has made significant progress since being on day parole.

He has enrolled in a college program where he’s been attending daily classes. And he took a computer course through a native employment centre.

He also has been working on a self-management plan to identify triggers to the “distorted thinking patterns” he had in the past, said the parole board report, adding that Burning had a healing plan that he’s worked on with a church and his wife and daughter, who remain supportive.

The parole board said that Burning is considered a low risk to re-offend because of his “high levels of accountability, motivation and reintegration potential.”

He also is in poor health, the board notes.

“It is the board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society if released and your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.”

The board noted that Burning caused long-lasting psychological harm to his victims.

He faces strict conditions, including avoiding contact with his victims and all children under 18 years old. He also must report his relationships to his parole officer and not be in any supervisory role or position of authority over children.

He remains on the national sexual offenders database for the rest of his life.

….

In July 2017, the Brantford Expositor reported:

According to the parole board report, Burning told them he denied his guilt in order to protect himself and his family. He said he decided to accept responsibility after incarceration gave him time to reflect on his life.

“You were selfish and non-accountable,” says the report.“You admitted that you knew what you did was wrong but your desire for sexual gratification was stronger than any misgivings you might have had.”

Burning used his position as a musician, pastor and principal at Johnsfield Baptist Church on Six Nations to target victims, often on Sundays.
During his trial, supporters from both his family and the Six Nations church’s sponsoring congregation from the U.S. were in the courtroom to support the minister.

….
One former member of the church, whose daughters attended the church school, said she was angry that Burning was being released. The woman left the church, horrified the group continued to support Burning, to the point of raising funds for his defence, without addressing the allegation he was facing. “I’ve spoken out against my ex-church in the last four-and-a-half years since we left,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. “I’m an administrator of an Independent Fundamental Baptist survivor group on Facebook and involved in several other IFB survivor groups.”

Through testimony during Burning’s trial, it was learned that although complaints about Burning were received by police as early as 2007, it was the end of 2009 when a victim reported she had been sexually assaulted, beginning when she was 17. The woman said Burning began by kissing and fondling her but his actions progressed to fellatio and intercourse.

A second woman testified she had been assaulted for 11 years, starting when she was three or four years old. Burning began having intercourse with her when she was about seven and continued to have sex with her until she was about 15.

Another woman said she rented a house from Burning’s church and worked at both the church and the school. Burning blackmailed her into performing sexual acts, threatening that she would lose her house and job if she didn’t comply.

Another woman reported she saw Burning watching her through a vent in the women’s washroom at the church. Her husband found a chair and mirror at the vent that allowed for a view of the genitals of anyone using the washroom. Another peephole was located in another bathroom.

Two men reported assaults. One said Burning fondled him while he slept and another said when he was seven to nine years old, Burning fellated him on at least 160 occasions.

….

The parole board questioned Burning about the fact that his “pool of victims” included four children under the age of 14.“You were asked why you offended against children. You said they were crimes of opportunity, the children were dependent on you and you felt they would not denunciate you. “You felt entitled and used the power that your position gave you to groom some of your victims and manipulate them.

”Burning confessed to the board that he still thinks of children in a sexual way but he has no inclination now to act upon his feelings. He outlined examples of how he plans to cope with such desires.

….

I find it appalling that Burning only served six years for his crimes; that the parole board determined he was no longer a risk to society. What is the h-e-l-l were they thinking?

In 2012, the Brantford Expositor reported:

A 59-year-old Six Nations pastor sat with his head in his hands after guilty verdicts were read out on 13 of 14 charges Friday afternoon in Brantford Superior Court.

Ronald D. Burning was taken into custody after the verdicts were read, bringing to a conclusion a two-week trial where the six-man, six-woman jury heard from two men and five women in relation to an original 19 charges. The witnesses cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban.

Jurors had deliberated over 14 of the original 19 charges starting Thursday at 10 a.m. At 8 p.m. Thursday they were sequestered for the night and resumed deliberations at 10 a.m. Friday. They rendered their verdicts shortly before 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Burning, pastor of Johnsfield Baptist Church, was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault, four charges of indecent assault, sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 14, forcible confinement, indecent assault, voyeurism, criminal harassment, indecent assault and gross indecency. These charges, some committed on men and some on women, related to incidents that took place between 1971 and 2009.

He was found not guilty on a single charge – sexual assault on a male.

Three of the original charges were stayed by Justice Kim Carpenter-Gunn, who directed acquittal on two other charges because no evidence was presented.

During their deliberations, jurors returned to the court mid-morning Friday to ask a question of clarification. Jurors wanted to know if they could find guilt on a charge where there was only the testimony of one witness and no other corroborating evidence from exhibits presented during the trial or other witness testimony.

The judge said that jurors could use any evidence or testimony to help them assess the context of the witness testimony in question and use that to determine how much weight to give to what that person told the court.

The judge revoked Burning’s bail following his conviction, requiring that he stay in custody until his sentencing hearing.

Defence lawyer Howard Staats had asked his client remain on bail, given he has lived under those conditions for almost two years and had caused no problems.

Assistant Crown attorney Patricia Vadacchino argued for custody.

She also reviewed for the judge how two of the guilty verdicts carry minimum life sentences, three carry minimum five-year sentences and one carries a minimum 10-year sentence.

“Now that we’ve had the jury come back … finding the accused guilty on 13 of 14 charges and the defendant is looking at significant jail time, I don’t see the wisdom of releasing the accused,” Carpenter-Gunn said.

….

Laura’s Light by Laura Hardman, A Book Review

laura's light laura hardman

I am reposting this review because Laura has written a second book The Life and Times of Donald A Hardman. Once I am able to secure a copy, I will read and review it.

Laura Hardman, the wife of Fundamentalist Baptist Evangelist Don Hardman, has written an autobiography titled Laura’s Light. The book is 277 pages long, and is published by Victory Baptist Press. The book was published in  2010.

Laura’s Light reads quite a bit like the Bible. Laura Hardman’s story is one of bondage to sin and deliverance from that sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. Also, like the Bible, it is littered with fictions and omissions.

Hardman’s story begins June 14, 1955 in Salem, Ohio. The first 45 pages of book detail Hardman’s hard scrabble life, a life she says God used to prepare her for future life as an evangelist’s wife.

The rest of the book details Hardman’s marriage to Don Hardman, their conversion to Christianity, and their subsequent work as evangelist and wife.

There is no question that Don and Laura Hardman are sincere, devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I have no reason to question their commitment to Jesus. However, Laura’ Light does bring to light some glaring issues in the thinking and attitudes of Don and Laura Hardman.

The book is hard to read. It has numerous grammatical errors and I found myself speed reading at times, wearied from the poor grammar. Hardman would take my criticism of her grammar as a badge of honor. She is quite proud of her hillbilly ignorance.

Hardman writes in the preface:

The words of this book are simple and easy enough for a child to read. My education is very limited and my vocabulary is not with enticing words of men, because I am writing it from my heart and not from an educated view.

Hardman reiterates this point several times in the book. I can appreciate someone who writes from the heart. I do the same on this blog. However, Hardman should have engaged the services of someone who could correct the glaring grammatical errors. These errors detract from the story Hardman is trying to tell.

The book reveals that Hardman has racist tendencies. I am sure she would be appalled at being called a racist, but her language in the book reveals a deep-seated racism that is quite common. This kind of racism is so much a part of Hardman that she might not even be aware of how offensive her words are.

Perhaps Hardman is just refusing to be politically correct. Perhaps she is just refusing to use the language of the liberals she rails against in the book.

Here are a couple of choice quotes that show, at the very least, a lack of understanding of the modern world we live in:

One week we decided to take four of the ghetto kids on an outing to the Gulf of Mexico to play with them in the water….

The humorous part of this story is that when they were all done playing in that salty water, I took each one into the back of the truck and dried them off. The drier they got, the whiter they got! Black folks don’t have the pores like we have to produce oils, so they have to put lotion on their skin to keep it black and not a ashy color. It was a good thing I had some cocoa butter on hand, and I was able to soak them down before I got them back home. (page 189,190)

Speaking of a trip she and her husband took to Africa to preach and teach:

One day one of the preacher boys asked me if I would cut his hair. When I looked at him I figured it would be similar to trimming my black poodle, so I agreed. (page 233)

Speaking of a trip Hardman and her husband took to Hawaii:

It was on November 3, 2002, very early in the morning that we boarded a plane in New Orleans…

It had been just a little over a year since 9-11…

It became a little more frightful when I saw a couple of rag heads get on the plane… (page 247)

Throughout the book, African-Americans are called blacks and Hispanics are called Mexicans. I know there is disagreement about which terms should be used, but taken together with the quotes I mention above, the book has quite a racist tone. Hardman also repeatedly calls homosexuals,sodomites, a fundamentalist term of derision and hate.

I find the racial overtones interesting because the Hardman’s spend most of the year ministering to street people in the New Orleans area; people who are overwhelmingly people of color.

Another thing that stood out to me in the book was Hardman’s view of sex, married men, and her own sexuality. It is a subject that comes up repeatedly in the book.

If Hardman is to believed, married men chased after her from her teens years and up. Repeatedly, Hardman writes of married men trying to get her to have sex with her. She uses Christian-correct words for their actions, but there is doubt they were after her for sex.

After Laura Hardman and her husband were converted and in the ministry, Hardman finally saw the light about  married men wanting to have sex with her.

Hardman writes:

All the way through my Christian life it seemed I had to learn things the hard way. However, one thing was for sure, I never forgot the lesson I learned. Each day the pastor come to the trailer, and he and Don would decide where they would make calls that day. There is one day he came over, and for the life of me I can’t remember what I was wearing, but it must have looked worldly and sensual. He told my husband he could not look at me because my clothes were revealing the contour of my body. Talk about a dagger through my heart. I could say I had no idea what my well-built body did to men, but I really could not because I was still getting whistles when I went to the mall and shopping centers, even after salvation…

If I caused even a strong man to abstain from looking at me, what was I doing to the weak? (page 95)

I was astounded when I read this passage and others that spoke of Hardman’s sexuality.  Perhaps the problem was not Hardman but the preacher man who couldn’t keep his mind pure. (a common problem for poor, lustful, weak Baptist men)

Hardman portrays life in the ministry as one of standing for the truth at all costs. She details loss of friends and loss of meetings because of their stand for the blessed truths of the King James Bible. Not one time does Hardman ever speak of a problem being their fault. It’s always the liberals fault. There is always an enemy, imaginary or real, they are fighting. This is the kind of life narrow Baptist Fundamentalism brings.

Hardman glosses over a few pertinent issues in her life and the life of her evangelist husband Don Hardman. They practiced this subterfuge the whole time they were holding meetings for me in Somerset and West Unity, Ohio

On page 87, Hardman speaks of Don’s ministerial calling. (Don completed a 1 year Bible correspondence course with Liberty Baptist Home Studies) The church they were part of at the time, First Baptist Church, Findlay, Ohio did not believe that Don was called to the ministry. Hardman gives the reason as:

his (Don’s) wicked past.

That’s it. This is the same line the Hardman’s used time and time again when asked about their life BEFORE Jesus saved them. In their mind, the past was the past. It was all under the blood of Jesus, never to be remembered again

So what was Don’s wicked past? Don was divorced. Not only was Don divorced, but his first marriage was to a 13-year-old girl he got pregnant.  He was seventeen when they married. (I have a copy of the marriage license that proves this)

Two children came out of Don’s first marriage. Laura claims the children as her own, a claim I suspect the biological mother finds quite offensive.(a woman I have corresponded with over the years)  While Hardman does say Don had two children, she never calls herself their step-mother. In her mind, when Jesus came into their life EVERYTHING became brand-new and that included the children having a new mother.

Hardman details their life as a traveling evangelist. Laura’s husband Don became an evangelist in 1987. Prior to that he pastored a church in West Virginia. Hardman spends a lot of time mentioning people who helped them along the way. I was quite surprised that Bruce Gerencser and Somerset Baptist Church got no mention at all. We were one of the first churches to have Don come and preach. Don held four meetings for me in Somerset, Ohio and another meeting in West Unity, Ohio.

We were close to the Hardman’s. We traveled to several churches where Don was preaching to support him. We even took a group from our church to the Hardman’s home church, Midway Bible Baptist Church, in Fishersville, Virginia, to attend their annual Bible conference. We graciously supported the Hardman’s financially. We spent several days in northern Ohio with the Hardman’s family while Don and Laura were off the road. Our youngest daughter is named after Laura.

I suspect, like Don’s wicked past, I have been expunged from their memory. Laura’s Light was written in 2010. By then Laura Hardman had got my coming out letter and had written to tell me that I never was a REAL Christian. Perhaps, having a one time staunch supporter turned atheist was too much for them to bear. No matter what is or isn’t in the book, the Hardman’s know, Somerset Baptist Church and Bruce and Polly Gerencser were very much a part of their life.

The book is titled Laura’s Light. Laura Hardman has a persona she wants to portray and she does a good job portraying it. However this book is a mixture of fact and fiction, in many ways, like most autobiographies.

Hardman wants to portray her life as one of continued spiritual ascendency after salvation. For this reason her story has an untrue ring to it. Life is messier than that. Sins. Lapses in judgment. Wrong. Error. Doubts. These are the kind of things that say to a reader, here’s a real person. Unfortunately, like many Christian autobiographies, the book subject is given God-like qualities, qualities that those closest to them find dishonest and quite amusing.

Where can I buy the book?

You can purchase the book at Victory Baptist Press. I know of no other place it is available.

Here’s a video of Laura Hardman singing Blessed Assurance

News article about Don and Laura Hardman.

Sermon by Don Hardman, preached at Old Time Baptist Church, Buffalo, New York. (sermon begins at the 9:53 mark, after congregational hymn, offering, and special music number)

Interesting Snopes.com article about Don Hardman and a bolt of lightning hitting a church where he was holding a meeting.

Hardman’s home church, Midway Bible Baptist Church, Fishersville, Virginia, supports Olen King, Second Chance Ranch and Ron Williams, Hephzibah House. Both have been investigated for abuse.