Tag Archive: Rape

Should Religiously Motivated Good Behavior Play a Part in Sentencing, Commutation, Clemency, or Parole?

donnie johnson

Seventh-day Adventist minister Donnie Johnson

In 1984, Donnie Johnson brutally murdered his wife by stuffing a 30-gallon trash bag down her throat until she suffocated. The Commerical Appeal reported last week:

More than a year and a half before her death, Connie Johnson had purchased a life insurance policy with Donnie Johnson as primary beneficiary, according to legal documents. After Connie Johnson’s death, both Donnie Johnson and a sister made claims for $50,000.

In 1984, Donnie Johnson was working at Force Camping Center in Memphis. Connie Johnson had worked there too until about 18 months before her death, according to a newspaper article, when she decided to stop because her daughter was entering school.

It was there that Donnie Johnson killed his wife, suffocating her by shoving a plastic bag down her throat. A Shelby County medical examiner said during the trial that she had cuts and bruises on her head, that she bled internally and had fought back.

“There was testimony that she would have been conscious during the terrifying ordeal and that from one to four minutes would have elapsed before she expired,” wrote Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Harbison in an opinion affirming the judgement of the trial court. “The homicide was inhuman and brutal to an almost indescribable degree.”

Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death. He is scheduled for execution this Thursday.

Thirty years ago, Jimmy Pitt started a Seventh-day Adventist Bible study at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Johnson was one of his converts (1985). Johnson later became a Seventh-day Adventist minister, and currently leads Bible studies at the prison and ministers to other inmates who are on death row.

Now that Johnson’s date for meeting the Grim Reaper is approaching, several Christian zealots have been working hard to keep the convicted murderer alive. Why? He is a new man in Christ Jesus. That’s right. J-e-s-u-s, the man, myth, and legend, who purportedly washes all sins away through his blood. Never mind the fact that the Bible says several times that murderers shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God. Mustn’t let the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God get in the way of a feel-good story; a story of redemption.

Furman F. Fordham II, pastor of Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Church in Nashville, Tennessee, told the Tennessean:

He [convicted murderer Donnie Johnson] has been leading and serving in such a way that what he’s doing in there is the exact kind of ministry that we would definitely ordain someone for out here.

I was accustomed to being at different churches where you’d have a prison ministry, but I had never seen one of the prisoners leading it. We were his assistants.

The wife of the late Jimmy Pitt said of Johnson:

Don is one of those people that is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he will share that with any and everybody that gives him an opportunity.

I used to be fairly set on if you did the crime, you pay the price. I really would love for him to get clemency of some sort because there’s always forgiveness.

Pastor Fordham believes Johnson should be spared due to his decades-long religious transformation:

Transformation is real. This is a new gentlemen. He just is. And I think that there should be room for that caveat to be considered and I think that is why in our state constitution the governor can press pause.

Should jailhouse conversion be grounds for sentence commutation, clemency, or parole?  Would a Muslim, atheist, humanist, witch, or pagan inmate be afforded the same opportunities? How many death row inmates have Pastor Fordham and his merry band of Christians advocated for in the past? Or is their advocacy predicated on Johnson being on their team?

I am a pacifist. On principle, I oppose the death penalty, period. That said, when Governors and parole boards are considering sentence commutation, clemency, or parole, there should be a strict separation of church and state. Religious conversion is quite easy to fake. What’s the empirical standard by which to judge whether someone is “really” a born-again, saved-by-the-blood Christian? Can their good works ever ameliorate the brutality of their crimes?

I support the commutation of Donnie Johnson’s sentence, but not because he is a super-duper, oh-so-awesome Christian. He could be a Muslim terrorist for all I care, or a Baptist. I oppose state-sanctioned murder, be it in prison kill houses or on the battlefields in the Middle East. That the followers of Jesus can’t come to such a conclusion is, in my opinion, astounding and in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches on the matter.

Johnson’s son, Jason, sees his devoutly religious father in different light, saying: “He’s an evil human being. He can talk Christianity and all that. “That is all my father is. That’s all he’s ever been, is a con man.”

pastor david richards jr

David Richards Jr, pastor of My Father’s House Church of God in Lenoir City, Tennessee.

Sometimes, judges let convicted criminals off easy because of their supposed love for JESUS before they committed their crimes. Take David Richards Jr, pastor of My Father’s House Church of God in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Richards was convicted of repeatedly raping his 14-year-old daughter. Prosecutors argued the severity and heinous nature of the crimes deserved a minimum of seventy-two years in prison, but the judge thought otherwise and gave Richards a 12-year prison sentence. Judge Steven Sword defended his light sentence by extolling all the good things Richards did in the community, including starting a Bible study while in jail awaiting trial. Again, would a “good” atheist, Muslim, humanist, or pagan receive similar treatment?

Sword gave Richards this sentence, even after hearing him refuse to take responsibility for his crimes. Instead, Johnson blamed his daughter:

I stand before you convicted of crimes I did not commit. I simply believe the system just erred in this case. I’m not sure why I’m here. . . but I assume it’s for His [the Christian God’s] purpose.

The Knoxville News reports:

David Richards took the stand in his own defense, painting his accuser as a defiant teenager who first made her allegations of sexual abuse amid his attempts to impose strict rules for his children.

Forensics found Richards’ semen on the victim’s bed frame, leaving little doubt that he was guilty. Jurors agreed, convicting Richards on nine felony counts, including rape, incest and sexual battery by an authority figure.

David Thompson, Richards’ fellow pastor at My Father’s House, doesn’t believe he’s guilty:

I find it impossible for me to believe he’s guilty of this. His business needs him. His family needs him. Our church needs him.

In fact, over thirty fellow church members packed the courthouse to show their love and resolute support Richards.

How do we explain their continued support of Richards even after hearing testimony that put Richards’ penis in the vicinity of the victim’s bed? Some reports have suggested that Richards’ daughter was “rebellious,” and this necessarily proves she is lying or trying to get even with her father. However, the knowledge that My Father’s House is a Fundamentalist Christian congregation should cause anyone buying this argument to ponder for a moment the fact that “rebellion” in such congregations is defined very differently from the way in which the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world define it. As former inmates at Baptist group homes such as New Bethany or Roloff Homes can attest, rebellion was defined as any act of disobedience, including skipping church, not reading the Bible or praying, going to movies, smoking, drinking beer, having sex, or listening to rock music. I suspect that the victim’s “rebellion” is far different from the behaviors that land teens in criminal detention centers. Whatever it might have been, it must be viewed through the lens of his or her religious background. And even then, her supposed bad behavior should play no part in discussions about her father’s crimes. That some of Richards’ fellow Christians are bringing the victim’s ill-behavior up suggests that they are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel in hopes of finding justification for their unwillingness to believe their pastor could be a rapist. Can anyone say cognitive dissonance?

The victim, Amber Richards, had this to say about her father:

I wanted to throw my body away. Not a day goes by that I don’t, in some way, think of what he did to me. . . I firmly believe if given the opportunity, he would victimize another young girl.

Too bad thirty-plus members of My Father’s House and their pastor David Thompson didn’t hear a word Amber Richards had to say.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Christopher Cox Accused of Rape

pastor christopher cox

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.

Christopher Cox, pastor of Long Lake Church in Traverse City, Michigan, stands accused of luring two men to his office and raping them after incapacitating them with methamphetamine and GHB.

The Traverse City Record Eagle reports:

Michigan State Police investigators interviewed a 19-year-old man who claimed Cox contacted him March 12 looking for a “drug buddy,” according to court records. Cox promised the man — who was homeless at the time — drugs and women if he came back with Cox to his home, the man claimed.

Cox gave the man meth to smoke and “CBD shots,” making the man “extremely inebriated,” according to a probable cause statement. Cox raped the man numerous times over the course of several hours that night, according to the account.

The accuser said Cox dropped him off at Safe Harbor the following morning, threatening to kill him if he told anyone about the night prior.

Records show the accuser went to Munson Medical Center where a sexual assault exam revealed bruising and redness “consistent with anal trauma.”

Mike McDonald, chairman of Safe Harbor’s executive board, said homeless people are much more likely to be victimized than the average person.

“It’s appalling to me that something like this could happen to anybody under any circumstances, especially by someone who purports to be a minister,” McDonald said.

A second man told troopers that Cox gave him meth sometime in October 2018 at Cox’s office in Traverse City — Moeggenberg did not immediately know the location. Like the account given by the other man, Cox gave the man meth and waited until he was high, drunk and incapacitated before assaulting him, despite the man’s efforts to fight him off, records show.

The man told Michigan State Police troopers that Cox stopped several hours later, claiming he had to get back to his wife and child.

“Based on what I know, I would be surprised if there weren’t more victims,” Moeggenberg said.

A search of Cox’s home and office uncovered items like lubricant, male enhancement pills, a blindfold and nylon webbing police suspect was used for bondage, records show.

They also found lighters, glass pipes, single-use syringes, meth and a substance police believe was GHB, known as the “date rape drug,” according to records. Moeggenberg said investigators also seized electronic devices. MSP’s Computer Crimes Unit searched the devices recovered during the March 18 search and uncovered “additional evidence,” according to a press release.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Richard Mick Faces New Trial, Out on Bond

richard mick

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

In 2016, Richard Mick, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandusky, Ohio was convicted of child rape and sentenced to life in prison. I previously wrote about Mick’s trial here. In 2018, an Ohio appeals court overturned Mick’s conviction. The Sandusky Register reported at the time:

An Ohio appeals court said a Sandusky pastor previously sentenced to life in prison for child rape must receive a new trial.

Richard Mick, 56, who was sentenced in Erie County Common Pleas Court in 2016, had his conviction overturned Friday by the Sixth District Court of Appeals. A jury originally found Mick guilty of four felony charges of rape and gross sexual imposition.

Mick, formerly a pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church, appealed his conviction after his trial was notably marked by his then-attorney K. Ronald Bailey refusing to participate in the trial.

Bailey, in 2016, argued the trial should have been delayed, and Judge Roger Binette held him in contempt of court after Bailey told Binette he was “not participating” in the trial. Bailey eventually served a 30-day sentence in the Erie County jail for the contempt charge.

Bailey did not respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.

Mick’s appeal, filed by his new Cleveland-based attorney, Russell Bensing, alleged Bailey’s refusal to participate in the trial violated his right to effective counsel, according to the appeal.

The appeals court agreed with Mick, according to a court opinion written by Judge Thomas Osowik.

“Although Mick could have waived his constitutional right to counsel, the record shows he did not,” Osowik said.

There are not any court dates set following the overturned conviction Friday.

Mick has another pending court case in Erie County Common Pleas Court, where he faces more counts of gross sexual imposition, according to court records. He has a pretrial in that case set for May 16.

Mick’s new trial is scheduled for June 3. Last week, Mick posted an $80,000 bond and was released from jail.

Black Collar Crime: Christian Man Repeatedly Rapes Woman, His Pastor Puts in a Good Word For Him

thomas jackson

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.

Without fail, it seems, pastors can be found putting in a good word for parishioners convicted of sex crimes. Why is it pastors feel a need to speak on behalf on sexual predators? God forgives and forgets, these pastors might say, and so should we. To that I say, bullshit. The only person who is in the position to forgive is the victim. We as a society must hold such people accountable, not only legally, but in the court of public opinion. There are some crimes that are so heinous that there can be no redemption. Punishment is in order, end of story.  Such is the case of Michigan City police officer Thomas Jackson.

Today, a tearful Jackson was sentenced to 36 years in prison for repeatedly raping an intellectually disabled woman. The Michigan City News-Dispatch reports:

Jackson admitted during his first jury trial to having engaged the 25-year-old in vaginal, oral and anal sex on various occasions and at different locations over the course of approximately two years when she was in her early twenties.

During that trial, he was acquitted of one count of rape, and the jury hung on the remaining three counts.

A new jury in his second trial delivered guilty verdicts on all three remaining counts in December.

“I wish I could go back and undo everything, and I pray, one day, that (the victim and her family) do forgive me,” Jackson cried from the defense table Friday. “ . . . I’m so sorry and I’m so ashamed of what happened.”

According to the probable cause document in the case, the victim possesses the emotional and mental capacities of a child between the ages of 10 and 12.

For that reason, Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule drew parallels between Jackson’s rape case and cases of child molesting.
“Intellectually, a child was sexually abused – repeatedly,” Roule said of Jackson’s victim.

Jackson’s lawyer called on several people to put in a good word for his client. While the News-Dispatch story does not give the exact words spoken by Jackson’s pastor, it did say:

The defense called multiple witnesses to testify on Jackson’s behalf, including his former pastor, a childhood friend and the field officer who handled Jackson’s case when he was on pretrial probation. All three talked of what they perceived to be Jackson’s high moral character or spirituality.

High moral character or spirituality? Really? I know we live in a Trumpian world now, where everything is turned upside down, but surely rational people would say that repeatedly raping an intellectually disabled woman and high moral character/spirituality are incompatible. Someone with high moral character does not rape a child. Jackson, by his actions, showed he is anything but moral or spiritual. And from my seat in the atheist pew, there is nothing Jackson can do in this life to redeem himself. Perhaps, Jackson loved puppies and was nice to his kids. He might have been a wonderful police officer. None of those things matters. His crime was such that any goodness in his life was obliterated by his vile actions. Wouldn’t it be nice if just once a pastor at a sentencing hearing stood before the court and said, “this man is a vile miscreant who deserves everything he gets, and if I had my way he would be locked up until he dies”? Why is it that so-called men of God can never rise to the occasion? Does their theology stand in the way; the necessity of forgiving all who sin? Perhaps they fear causing harm to the perpetrator’s family. Fine, then say nothing. Surely that is a better path than choosing to paint a sexual predator as a moral/spiritual man who happened to take a wrong turn.

Judge Michael Bergerson didn’t buy the whole “Jackson was a moral/spiritual man” line of thinking:

The repeated rape of [the victim] on the whim of the defendant over the course of several years is hard to fathom and evidence of a depraved mind.

Notwithstanding his position as a Michigan City Police officer, as a human being, the defendant had a duty to protect a person with obvious cognitive disabilities who had been entrusted to his care, custody and control. In doing so, the defendant transgressed a boundary of sickening proportions.

For further context on this story, please read this South Bend Tribune story from September 2018. The woman’s parents, in my opinion, showed a lack of awareness and discretion in allowing their daughter to have a relationship with the married Jackson.

Bob, the Saved Rapist

barbara gerencser 1978

Mom and Bruce, Rochester, Indiana, 1978

Bob was my mom’s brother-in-law. Married to my dad’s sister, Bob was a rough-and-tumble truck driver and dirt-track race-car driver. Bob’s parents were devout Fundamentalist Baptists. Bob was raised in the church, and at the age of seventeen he walked the sawdust trail at a revival meeting and asked Jesus to save him from his sin. According to Baptist theology, Bob was now an eternally saved child of God.

After high school, Bob left home and abandoned the Baptist faith of his parents. Over the next six decades, Bob lived as if God did not exist. In every way, he lived as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. He was a booze-drinking skirt chaser known for sexually harassing and assaulting women. Female family members knew to steer clear of Bob lest they find themselves a target of his sexual advances. Age didn’t matter to Bob, and more than a few teen family members endured his touches, squeezes, and other demeaning behaviors.

Women got “used to” Bob’s sexual assaults. Viewing him as harmless, they would recount to me, “Oh, that was just Bob being Bob.” It was the 1960s and 1970s, after all, and that’s just how men were, I was told. As I will share in a moment, Bob was anything but harmless.

In early 1969, we lived east of Farmer, Ohio in a farmhouse owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law. I was in the sixth grade at Farmer Elementary School. One day, I was home from school sick. I spent the day in bed recuperating. In the early afternoon, Bob pulled into the drive. I figured he was there to see my mom, so I stayed in my room. A short time later, Bob left and I heard my mom calling my name. She was crying, saying that Bob had just raped her. She asked me to go to the neighbor’s house and call someone (I can’t remember who). I did, but no one ever came to our home.

You see, Mom had mental health problems — lots of problems. This meant, of course, in the minds of “healthy” people, she couldn’t be relied on to tell the truth. Bob was well-known in town. Bob would never rape anyone. Yes, he was a “little” too friendly with women, but, hey, that was just “Bob being Bob.” A few months later, we moved to Deshler, Ohio. Mom never talked about Bob after that. I suspect that she buried the rape deep in the recesses of her mind, right next to memories of her father repeatedly sexually assaulting her as a child.

Bob died a few years ago. His funeral was held at the local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. Bob’s parents helped start this congregation and were pillars of the church for decades. I attended the funeral, wanting to see what kind of send-off the once-saved-always-saved Baptists would give Bob, the Saved Rapist. The pastor giving the sermon spoke of the night sixty years prior that Bob had been gloriously saved, and that he was now in Heaven with his mom and dad. The pastor never mentioned that Bob hadn’t darkened the doors of the church since the 1960s and he, in every way, lived a life of debauchery. The pastor cared more about protecting the memory of Bob’s parents than he did telling the truth. I have seen this behavior countless times over the years: degenerate people preached into Heaven, all because they mentally assented to a set of theological propositions. And therein lies the vulgarity of once-saved-always-saved soteriology. It’s the same theology that says I am still a Christian, and that no matter what I say or do I will go to Heaven when I die. Just pray the right prayer, believe the right things and Heaven is yours!

As the funeral service went along, I found myself becoming increasingly angry. I wanted to rebuke the pastor for his lies. I wanted to scream at the congregation for their willful ignorance of what kind of man Bob really was. Most of all, I wanted to be my mom’s voice. Not a mile away, Mom lay silent in her grave. Oh, to bring her to life again so she could give testimony to what Bob did to her! On that day, I so wished that there was a Hell. If anyone deserved endless torment, it was Bob. Alas, there is no Hell, so the only satisfaction that comes from Bob’s death is that no other woman will ever have to suffer the indignity of being sexually assaulted by him. I wish Mom had been alive to see Bob meet his end. Unfortunately, fifteen years prior, Mom turned a Ruger .357 on herself, pulled the trigger, ripping a hole in her heart. Her beautiful, tragic life instantly came to an end at age fifty-four, due in no small part to men who saw her as an object of sexual desire and gratification and not as a thoughtful, intelligent — and yes, beautiful — human being she really was.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Daniel Goodloe Charged With Rape

daniel goodloe

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 Goodloe, a youth pastor at the West Nashville Dream Center in Nashville, Tennessee, has been arrested and charged with five counts of rape by an authority figure. Goodloe was also one of the stars on A&E’s Undercover High — a show featuring adults posing as high school students.

The West Nashville Dream Center is a ministry of Crosspoint Church, pastored by Kevin Queen.

The Dream Center released the following statement:

We are deeply saddened by the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Daniel Goodloe, a former part-time employee at the West Nashville Dream Center. Goodloe has not been employed nor associated with the center since he left the program in April 2018.

The mission of the West Nashville Dream Center is to protect and empower those in our community living in distress. Anything that compromises the young people in our care is of the utmost concern to us. Our top priority is to provide a safe environment for our students, volunteers and staff. We have a zero-tolerance policy for harmful behavior, and require our employees and volunteers to undergo thorough training on appropriate interactions with students.

Our prayers are with all who have been negatively impacted by this situation, especially the student and her family.

Queen released a video statement about Goodloe’s arrest. You can view it here.

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor Gary Miller Charged With Rape

pastor gary miller

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.

Gary Miller, pastor of Sycamore Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri, stands accused of raping a female church member. Previously, Miller had been investigated on child abuse allegations, but never charged.

According to the Springfield News-Leader:

Officials say a Springfield man accused of using an elaborate scheme to extort and rape a woman was a pastor.

And a former churchgoer says the pastor admitted at least parts of the act to his congregation six years ago.

Gary Miller, 41, was charged Tuesday with forcible rape and forcible sodomy following allegations that he sent “anonymous” threat letters to set up a sexual assault in 2012.

Sherry Clark said Miller was her pastor in 2012 at Sycamore Baptist Church in Springfield.

Clark said one day in 2012, Miller stood in front of the congregation and admitted to having sex with the victim.

Clark said she could not remember if Miller also admitted to other parts of the alleged scheme, like sending the threat letters.

“I was shocked because he’s got kids of his own,” Clark said. “He never seemed like he would be that type of guy.”

Clark said the day of Miller’s admissions was her last at Sycamore Baptist Church, and she assumed that Miller would soon face legal consequences.

Clark said she doesn’t understand why it took six years for charges to be filed in the case.

“Why they are just now opening up a case about it is insane to me,” Clark said.

Public court documents indicate police only recently became aware of the alleged rape scheme while they were investigating other sexual abuse allegations made against Miller.

According to a probable cause statement, a woman told police last week that in August 2012 she got a letter in the mail from an “anonymous” sender that threatened harm against her loved ones if she did not film herself having sex with Miller.

The statement says the woman confided in Miller about the letter, and he suggested they meet in person to discuss what to do.

Miller allegedly told the woman that he did not want to have sex with her, but he felt like they had no choice.

The statement says the woman first pushed Miller away but eventually gave in and had sex with Miller as he used his cellphone to film the encounter.

After the incident, the statement says Miller insisted on tucking the victim into bed and praying with her.

The statement says that last week Miller admitted to writing the letters and carrying out the scheme in a conversation with his wife.

….

Miller faces a possible life sentence if convicted of forcible rape.

Black Collar Crime: Tim Omotoso Trial FINALLY Underway

tim omotoso

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.

Please read my previous report about Timothy Omotoso here.

After eighteen months of investigations and delays, the trial of famed Nigerian/South African pastor Timothy Omotoso has begun. Omotoso, pastor of multi-branch Jesus Dominion International Church in Durban, South Africa, stands accused of sexually molesting young women, rape, and human trafficking.

The Sunday Times reports:

Graphic details of how a 14-year-old girl was groomed to perform lewd sexual acts on controversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso were laid bare in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.

The state called its first witness to testify in the trial against Omotoso and his two co-accused‚ Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28‚ which has seen its fair share of grandiose shenanigans‚ including drum majorettes performing in front of the court building while two off-duty policewomen were thrown out onto the street.

On Wednesday Cheryl Zondi‚ now 22‚ told the court how at first she was in awe of Omotoso after watching clips of him performing “miracles” but soon became disillusioned by him after she realised the sexual acts he made her perform on him were nothing more than predatory sexual assaults.

Omotoso and his co-accused face 63 charges in total ranging from racketeering to sexual assault and rape allegedly committed across the country and abroad‚ including in Nigeria and Israel.

Please take time to watch the following short video. The victim’s testimony is heartbreaking, a poignant reminder of how “men of God” use religious terminology and persuasion to prey on vulnerable teenagers and women.

Video Link

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.

angel mauricio ruiz

Evangelical Pastor Angel Mauricio Ruiz Accused of Sexually Assaulting Female Juvenile

Angel Mauricio Ruiz, pastor of Church Ministerio Cielos Abiertos, in Woodbridge, Virginia, has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor. According to the Alexandria News, Ruiz allegedly assaulted a female family member. He is being held without bond.

dustin colony-herrera

Evangelical Youth Pastor Dustin Colony-Herrera Arrested on Outstanding Warrant for Sexual Assault

Dustin Colony-Herrera, the former youth pastor at Yucaipa Christian Church (now called Active Church) in Yucaipa, California, was arrested in Oregon on an outstanding warrant for sexual assault. Colony-Herrera is accused of thirteen counts of lewd acts on a child, with sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims in a sex crime.

The Press Enterprise reports:

Herrera was taken into custody last week in Medford, Ore., after Jackson County sheriff’s deputies received a request from investigators assigned to the Riverside-based Inland Regional Apprehension Team to serve an arrest warrant on the defendant.Herrera was booked into the Jackson County Correctional Facility, where he’s being held in lieu of $3 million bail.

Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Carroll said an extradition proceeding to return Herrera to California is pending.

According to investigators, between 2000 and 2004, Herrera served as a youth group leader at what was then called the Yucaipa Christian Church, where he came into contact with numerous children.

Herrera resided in Calimesa at the time, and would allegedly bring minors from the group to his home, where he committed unspecified acts of molestation, Carroll said.

The alleged offenses were detailed in November by several victims, whose names were not released, after the now-adults came forward and gave statements to detectives at the sheriff’s Calimesa Station, according to Carroll.

donn ketcham

Evangelical Missionary and Serial Child Molester Don Ketcham Escapes Punishment for His Crimes

Please read my previous report on Ketcham.

Donn Ketcham, 87, an Evangelical Baptist missionary, will escape punishment for the decades-long molestation of children thanks to a judge declaring him incompetent to stand trial.

Wood-8 reports:

An Ottawa County judge ruled that Donn Ketcham, now 87, is incompetent to stand trial because he suffers from dementia.

Prosecutors told 24 Hour News 8 they don’t plan to appeal, which means the charge against him will be dismissed.

Ketcham’s alleged victims from his decades in Bangladesh — known then as MKs, or missionary kids — said the local case was their only chance for justice.

“As far as earthly justice, this was our one shot,” said Diana Durrill, of the Denver area, who said Ketcham molested her in the 1980s in Bangladesh.

Ketcham, who also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was never charged over the allegations in Bangladesh decades ago, in part because his missionary group covered up the alleged crimes.

In his decision filed last week, Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Jon Hulsing cited Ketcham’s age, the fact he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and his failing memory.

He is “unable to recall his attorney’s name, is unable to identify his medications, is unable to identify the date, has gotten lost when walking, obsesses over certain issues, forgets significant events, and becomes agitated,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

A state psychologist testified July 20 that Ketcham was competent to stand trial.

However, the judge wrote that “the state’s evaluator does not challenge the defense expert’s conclusion which deems defendant incompetent to stand trial.”

The judge said Ketcham would not be able to defend himself from the expected testimony of his accusers from his days in Bangladesh.

The judge also ruled that based on Ketcham’s and diagnosis, his mental abilities will continue to get worse.

“Accordingly, there is NOT a substantial probability that, if provided a course of treatment, defendant will attain competence within 15 months,” the judge wrote.

“There is no indication that defendant is malingering or in any way feigning incompetency,” according to the ruling.

Ketcham was a longtime doctor for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism missionary camp in Bangladesh. A report released in 2016 by ABWE says it confirmed he molested 18 children and five women there in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Many were the children of missionary parents.

But the missionary group initially covered it up, even after Ketcham admitted to “perverted sin” with Diana Durrill’s young sister, Kim James, starting when she was 12. He was in his 50s. He was never charged.

“He’s been able to dodge accountability and responsibility for a very long time,” Durrill said.

Instead, after being forced from the mission field, the doctor moved back to West Michigan and started practicing medicine in Allendale in 1989.

He was accused of molesting a local girl who was 4 or 5 in the late 1990s during a doctor’s visit at his office in Allendale, with her mom in the room. The girl first reported it in 2011, but the investigation went nowhere until the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department reopened it in response to a Target 8 report.

A judge ordered Ketcham, who lost his medical license in 2012, to stand trial in December 2016, but that was delayed to see if he was competent to stand trial.

gary smitherman

Baptist Children’s Pastor Gary Smitherman Convicted of Sexual Assault

Gary Smitherman, children’s pastor at  Friendship Baptist Church in Clanton, Alabama, was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

The Clanton Advertiser reports:

 Smitherman was convicted of one count of sexual abuse of a child under 12 on Aug. 3, a Class B felony.

“We are very happy with the sentence and glad this victim and her family can close this chapter and begin moving forward knowing this child predator will be staring at a prison cell for a long time,” said C.J. Robinson, the chief deputy district attorney for the 19th Circuit Judicial Office.

According to Robinson, trial testimony indicated that Smitherman was over the children’s ministry program at Friendship Baptist Church in Clanton and was tutoring a young female at his home with whom he had contact with through his position at the time with the church.

These tutoring sessions would last until late at night, and Smitherman began asking the victim to stay at his house overnight.

The offense that led to his arrest and conviction occurred in early 2017 at his home.

“He touched her inappropriately, and she told a member of her family,” Robinson said. “The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.”

timothy reddin

Baptist Pastor Timothy Reddin Arrested in Child Sex Sting

Timothy Reddin, pastor of Turner Street Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas, was arrested after he attempted to solicit an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old boy for sex. Previously, Reddin was convicted on child pornography charges and spent twenty-seven months in prison for his crimes.

Baptist News reports:

A former longtime Southern Baptist preacher whose ministry stalled 18 years ago when he went to prison for possessing child pornography is back in jail, this time for allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Timothy Lee Reddin, 67, was arrested Aug. 3 on a federal warrant for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. According to arrest documents, Reddin messaged an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent posing online as an underage male to arrange a meeting for sex.

….

In the past Reddin served Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas and Texas for three decades before pleading guilty in 2000 to possessing at least 10 illegal images, including one depiction of a child under 12.

Two years earlier he reportedly resigned as director of missions for Central Baptist Association in Benton, Arkansas, after two people found child pornography on a computer he used and confronted him over it.

Reddin went to prison for 27 months, after admitting to the sentencing judge that he had a weakness for child pornography but insisting would never actually molest a child. He blamed his porn addiction on sexual abuse he said he suffered at age 10 at the hands of an older boy.

Character witnesses including a fellow pastor argued for leniency, saying they believed Reddin felt remorse and was sincere about wanting to reform.

Fox-24 adds:

The undercover officer said he was on a website on July 27 in an unrelated undercover capacity when he received an unprovoked message from a website user with the profile name “Lee,” according to the affidavit

“Lee” described himself in his profile as a 62-year-old white male, 6’1″, 215 pounds and married. The profile description said, “I just wanna have fun…I like younger guys. But hell, at my age that’s just about everybody! Discreet, intelligent, witty, professional guy. Love to meet new friends. Especially naked ones,” according to the affidavit.

The undercover officer began interacting with Lee after receiving the initial message from him.

Lee began the conversation by saying “I like your hashtag! I’m no fan of our lying Pres.” He then complimented the undercover officer, saying “You are wise beyond your years. :)”

As the conversation went on, Lee said, “Yeah, a good looking 18 yr old will get hit on a lot.” The undercover officer said he wasn’t 18 and that he was on the website while his parents were out of town.

Lee asked the undercover officer for his age. The undercover officer said he was going to turn 15 in November and wanted to be around like-minded guys, to which Lee asked, “Gay I suppose?”

As the conversation continued, Lee asked the undercover officer if he had sex other than masturbation. He then went on to tell the undercover officer that many men on the website will want to have oral sex with him.

Lee later asked the undercover officer what kind of sexual activity he is looking for and what he is ready for. Lee suggested starting with oral sex and to then move onto other types of sex. He also recommended taking it a step at a time, saying “Gay pron will be your friend for a while. :)”

The undercover officer then tells Lee that he’s looking for someone he can trust to be his first. Lee responds, “If I weren’t such an old fart I’d volunteer! Lol.”

After the undercover officer said he doesn’t care about age, Lee said, “I could meet you. No pressure to do anything you decide not to.” (sic)

Lee then said “Here’s what I have to offer” and sent graphic images of male genitalia.

Lee offered to meet the undercover officer the next day for a burger and then go somewhere private so he can “coach” him on oral sex.

The undercover officer told Lee that he felt he could trust him then jokingly asked if he is going to kidnap or kill him.

“Actually, I’m an axe murderer…,” Lee said. He then added, “I’m a gentle guy really. I’m a college teacher and a businessman.”

The undercover officer told Lee he couldn’t meet the next day. He and Lee discussed meeting another time, and Lee gave the undercover officer his phone number after the officer asked how to find Lee on the website at a late time. Lee says, “Text, don’t call. My name’s Lee.”

The undercover officer said Lee contacted him another time and offered to give him pointers on having sex for the first time and offered to assist him with his first sexual experience. Lee then said, “I’ll never tell! I could go to jail!”

Sure sounds like Reddin “reformed,” eh? How about he went right back to his predatory ways,because that’s what sexual predators do. Jesus can’t fix pedophiles, so it is up to the state to make sure the Reddins of the world do NOT have access to children.

pastor jimmy orick

IFB Pastor Jimmy Orick Pleads Guilty to Rape

You can read my previous report on JImmy Orick here.

Jimmy Orick, pastor of Mountain View Independent Baptist Church in LaFollette, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to rape and attempted rape, According to the LaFollette Press, Orick has sex with a minor girl in his home.

robert browning

Baptist Christian School Teacher Robert Browning Accused of Sexually Assaulting Student

Robert Browning, a teacher at a Christian school run by Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Jacksonville,Florida, was arrested on charges of sexual battery, molestation and transmitting pornographic images to a girl under the age of 16.

News-4 reports:

He was a very good teacher and you would never know,” said Sally Blaney, whose children attend the Christian school run by Cedar Creek. “That person was old enough to know better and he should have never gone there.”

After the story of Browning’s arrest aired Tuesday, News4Jax received an anonymous tip that Browning had previously worked as a youth pastor at Old Plank Baptist Church and Christian Academy. The tipster, a mother of a child who attended youth services at Old Plank Road Baptist with Browning, was concerned that there could be other child victims who haven’t come forward.

Old Plank Baptist’s worship leader, who is also the school’s principal, reluctantly confirmed Browning had worked there, but had no other comment.

The mother who called described Browning as being overly friendly with children when he worked there six years ago.

“We’re very concerned,” she said. “I always had that guy feeling, ‘Do I let her go on trips with the church?’ He was just, I thought, a little too close to the kids.”

She is worried there could be more victims than the one teenager he was accused of having sex with at Cedar Creek’s school. She’s even concerned he could have had inappropriate contact with her daughter.

….

School officials with Cedar Creek said they were told by Browning that he was that let go from Old Plank Baptist because of a dispute with faculty.

Browning had a clean record before his arrest Saturday. Cedar Creek officials said they conducted extensive background checks on Browning before he was hired, and he passed with no problems.

An earlier News-4 report adds:

The victim’s father said he discovered the inappropriate relationship when he checked his daughter’s cellphone and found she and Browning were exchanging nude photos and lewd text messages.

“I found everything,” the father said.

According to the arrest report, the girl said she performed consensual oral sex on Browning at the church while he touched her inappropriately. Investigators found text messages between Browning and the girl about the incident.

The father said he is furious and feels betrayed by someone who was supposed to be a mentor to his child.

According to his arrest report, Browning turned himself in to police Saturday and has retained a lawyer.

Pastor John Montgomery of Cedar Creek Baptist said the school took swift and immediate action, terminating Browning immediately.

Montgomery said Browning, like all employees, was fingerprinted and checked with the FBI when he was hired six years ago.

“Of all people, I would have never ever thought that something like that could have happened,” Montgomery said. “We live in a fallen world, and people do things that absolutely shock you.”

In addition to terminating Browning and trying to support the victim’s family, Montgomery said the church was also increasing security and adding more surveillance cameras “to make sure this can’t happen again.”

The father said this is having a devastating effect on his relationship with his daughter.

“It’s torn my family apart. My daughter doesn’t want to speak to me anymore,” the man told News4Jax. “I’m actually glad this is getting out because this is so sick and people really need to pay attention to who they’re hiring and who their kids are with. We live in a sick world.”

Black Collar Crime: IFB Sunday School Teacher and Accused Rapist Jonathan Young Has Bond Reduced

jonathan young

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

In July, I reported that Jonathan Young, a Sunday school teacher at Firstborn Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — in Benson, North Carolina was accused of raping several church girls.  WRAL-5 reported that Young had been charged with ” six charges of first-degree rape of a child, three charges of statutory rape, two charges of first-degree sexual offense and two charges of indecent liberties with a child.” The charges against Young covered alleged crimes committed between 2004 and 2014.

Since then, former church members Cherith Roberson and Beka Faust accused Firstborn Baptist leadership of operating a cult. WRAL reported:

It began with the arrest of a Sunday school teacher on 13 charges of sexually assaulting children earlier this month.

Now, investigators with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office are speaking with more people who have come forward to say they too were molested or abused in other ways at the church.

Some of those same people have reached out to WRAL News, saying they will no longer be silent.

Not unlike the opaque windows of the Firstborn Baptist Church in Benson that let in very little light, seven former members tell us there is a dark climate within those church walls.

“There’s this culture of fear and you have to obey the ultimate leader and authority,” said Cherith Roberson, 32, a former church member. “And it starts from the beginning.”

Roberson’s family joined when she was 7 years old.

“It was taught, it was preached about, that you break a child’s spirit. And you do that by whatever means necessary,” she said.

Her little sister, Beka Foust, was just 5 years old.

“I knew this was not normal,” Foust said. “I didn’t know what normal was.”

The sisters said all the children attended school at church. They said they were told what to wear, what to believe, and were not allowed contact with anyone on the outside.

“You were ostracized from everybody else,” Foust said.

And they said there were serious consequences for breaking rules.

“They would put me in the closet with a light out and I would just sit there all day,” Foust said. “I was allowed to eat once.”

“There was a lot of physical and emotional abuse that went way beyond spanking,” Roberson said. “From spanking, to beating, there was a huge paddle in the church school that I attended.”

They said church members were publicly humiliated from the pulpit and children were beaten so others could hear their screams.

Sadly, nothing surprising here. Typical cultic behavior by IFB preachers who use the Bible to abuse congregants and force them to “obey” the church’s interpretation of its words.

In September, Young’s bond was reduced from $1 million to $400,000. The church denies any and all accusations levied against Young and church leaders.

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Are you angry over how Donald Trump treats women and how he denigrates them publicly? Do you have passionate opinions about the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh? Do you support the #metoo movement? Do you have a personal story to share about being sexually abused, raped, or sexually harassed? Are you appalled by Evangelical support for President Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the idea that what happened in high school — even sexual assault — shouldn’t disqualify a man from public office? Are you sickened by how Evangelicals abandoned any sense of moral authority, choosing instead to be shills for the Republican Party? If so, I want to hear from you.

If you are a woman and have something you want or need to say on these matters, I want to extend to you an invitation to write a guest post (or multiple posts) for this site. I think it is important for readers to hear from women on these issues. Guest posts can be any length, and can either be written anonymously or under your own name. If you are interested in writing a post but fear your writing/English skills are lacking, please don’t let that hinder your participation.  I have a first-rate editor who will edit your post, making sure the grammar and structure is correct. Your point of view will not be changed in any way. My editor is a progressive woman, so you can rest assure that she will do all she can to help you.  You may have noticed frequent guest posts by ObstacleChick.  OC is also a woman. Her recent letter to Evangelical women was posted as written with only a few minor grammatical corrections. She will tell you that I don’t alter content. It’s your story, and I want to provide a forum for you to tell it. You don’t have to be an atheist or agree with me to write a guest post.

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Black Collar Crime: Dallas Theological Seminary Graduates Man Knowing He Was a Child Molester

jon warnshuis

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.

Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) recently settled its fourth lawsuit over its enabling of child molester Jon Warnshuis. DTS, an Evangelical institution, graduated Warnshuis knowing that he had, in the past, sexually molested church boys. Sara Coello, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, writes:

An evangelical seminary in Dallas has settled a fourth lawsuit claiming that it knowingly allowed a child molester to graduate, enabling him to have access to boys he’d rape years later as a North Texas pastor.

Dallas Theological Seminary required that Jon Gerrit Warnshuis undergo counseling before receiving his diploma in 1992 — but didn’t report the allegation to law enforcement or tell future employers, according to the lawsuit.

Nearly a decade later, Warnshuis was convicted in Denton County for sexually abusing three boys. He is serving a 40-year prison sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2021.

His victims sued the seminary, as well as Oak Hills Community Evangelical Free Church in Argyle and Warnshuis, claiming that the school created dangerous conditions for future congregants by granting Warnshuis a diploma.

“Warnshuis was thus cloaked with all the powers, appearances, and indices of a Man of God that permitted him to infiltrate the community earning the trust of the victims, their families, the congregation and the community at large,” the latest lawsuit said.

That lawsuit, filed in January, was settled in August. The two other victims sued in Dallas County in 2008 and 2009 and settled their cases in 2010. The terms of the settlements with the seminary were not disclosed in any of the cases, and the church was dropped as a defendant in all three. Another settled in Tarrant County in 2005.

The victim who filed the latest lawsuit will use the money to pay for therapy, attend college and marry his fiancée, said attorney Tom McElyea, who represented all three victims in their civil cases.

“More than anything, the lawsuit gave him a chance to have a voice,” McElyea said.

Warnshuis was set to graduate from the seminary in May 1988, but was kept from graduation after allegations were made against him. The morning of his commencement, a man told school president Donald Campbell that Warnshuis had molested his 13-year-old son and asked that he get counseling and be separated from young boys, the 2009 lawsuit alleged.

An attorney advised Campbell that Texas law did not require him to report Warnshuis to law enforcement, Campbell testified. Seminary officials required him to attend sessions with Richardson psychologist Stephen Ash.

….

“Dr. Ash stated that Defendant Warnshuis was unable to be involved with minors or teens and that Defendant Warnshuis should give up the ministry altogether as it relates to teens,” McElyea wrote in the 2008 lawsuit.

Ash wrote a letter to the school in 1991 claiming that Warnshuis had addressed the root of his problems — his father’s death — according to a 2009 deposition. The letter has since been lost, and it’s unclear whether it was intended as an endorsement of Warnshuis’ safety or an update on his progress.

….

Oak Hills church officials say they followed a normal hiring process for Warnshuis, calling the seminary before inviting him to become their pastor in 1996.

Seminary officials testified that they have no records of that call and emphasized that Warnshuis could have been hired without the school’s certification.

As a pastor, Warnshuis spent much of his time with the congregation’s boys, even inviting them to sleepovers at his home.

“I was only really happy when I was working with the boys,” Warnshuis wrote in an undated letter to his mother, according to a 2002 Star-Telegram article.

One boy’s father told the newspaper that he’d directed his son to Warnshuis for spiritual guidance in the late 1990s. That night, the pastor molested the 13-year-old for the first time, the boy’s father said.

“I had peace and fulfillment, only to turn on them and betray them,” Warnshuis wrote to his mother, the Star-Telegram reported.

Investigators believe Warnshuis could be responsible for sexually assaulting several more children, both in North Texas and California, where he lived before enrolling in the seminary.

….

You can read the entire sordid, disgusting story here.

Jon Warnshuis’ rap sheet and incarceration record. Warnshuis has been in prison for seventeen years. He will be eighty-years-old when he is released in 2041.

2005 story on the first lawsuit against Dallas Theological Seminary.