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Tag: Sexual Abuse

Black Collar Crime: Findlay Catholic Priest Michael Zacharias Accused of Sexually Assaulting Minors

Michael Zacharias

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.

Michael Zacharias, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay Ohio, stands accused of grooming and sexually assaulting minors for years. (I attended high school in Findlay in the 1970s. Several of my friends attended St. Michael’s.)

The Toledo Blade reports:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, alleging that he groomed and sexually assaulted minors for years, beginning in Toledo.

Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said the Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, is believed to have groomed and sexually assaulted minors since the late 1990s.

The Northwest Ohio Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force took the priest into custody after he presided at a 7 a.m. Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Parish. Father Zacharias faces charges of coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion, according to court documents.

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Agent Smith addressed the media at a morning news conference outside the priest’s residence on Greendale Avenue in Findlay, which abuts the parking lot of the parish grounds. He said the criminal complaint filed against the priest includes accounts from two victims, but his department believes there have been others.

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“It’s imperative that those other individuals out there come forward,” he said on Tuesday. “Your contact with us will remain strictly confidential.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced that Father Zacharias was put on administrative leave effective immediately upon hearing word of his arrest. This means he cannot exercise public ministry, administer sacraments, or present himself as a priest. Administrative leave is a precautionary measure while an allegation is being investigated.

Bishop Daniel Thomas responded in a statement:

“I am profoundly shocked and grieved to learn of these charges against one of our priests,” he said. “The Church cannot and will not tolerate any such behavior and takes any sexual abuse or misconduct on the part of a cleric with the utmost seriousness. As we await the outcome of the criminal investigation, our prayers go out to anyone affected by this situation.”

The diocese indicated that these are the first allegations raised against Father Zacharias.

Father Zacharias was ordained in 2002, according to the diocese.

He is most recently the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay since 2017. The parish serves about 3,300 households, and is affiliated with St. Michael the Archangel School, which covers preschool through eighth grade.

The diocese identified his previous assignments as St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Toledo as a seminarian between 1999 and 2000; St. Peter Parish in Mansfield, Ohio as an associate pastor between 2002 and 2007; St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Van Wert as pastor between 2007 and 2011; St. Joseph and St. Ann Parishes in Fremont as pastor between 2011 and 2017; and St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay since 2017.

Investigators allege in court records that he began to groom two male victims, currently ages 32 and 26, while he was a seminarian and they were students at St. Catherine of Siena. One met Father Zacharias in the sixth grade, the other in the first grade, according to the complaint.

Each described to agents drug addictions that began in their teen years, and alleged that the priest would help fund their drug habits by paying them for oral sex. This began while they were underage and, in the case of one of the victims, continued until as recently as July.

The complaint indicates that these exchanges occurred at times in parish rectories, including Father Zacharias’ diocese-owned residence in Findlay.

The complaint also indicates that in the case of the victim with whom he was in touch as recently as July, Father Zacharias would request and at times pay for videos in which he performed sex acts on the victim and in which he confessed to grooming the victim. The complaint references multiple text messages between the victim and the priest.

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Father Zacharias was one of several ordinands who spoke with The Blade in 2002, reflecting on their vocations amid seismic revelations of widespread clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church as reported by the Boston Globe.

Then-Deacon Zacharias said that his cohort of priests would bring with them an understanding of sexuality as a part of who they are.

“In the past I don’t want to say they denied it, but it seems as though they were told, ‘You’re going to be a priest, you’re going to be celibate,’” he told The Blade then. By contrast, he said contemporary seminarians were taught to have healthy and appropriate relationships.

Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn responded to the news in a statement on Tuesday.

“I am distraught by the news of the arrest of Father Michael Zacharias,” she said. “These allegations are not taken lightly, and the Findlay Police Department and our community at large will support the full and thorough investigation by the FBI. Such abuse of power, and perversion of sexuality is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by any organization, individual, or society.”

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Music Leader Edward Thompson Convicted of Sex Crimes

edward thompson

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.

Edward Thompson, a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Eugene, Oregon, and a former member of Eugene Faith Center, was convicted of “repeated acts of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child” that started when the victim was a toddler. Thompson was sentenced to life in prison.

KVAL-13 reports:

A jury found Edward Samuel Thompson of Eugene guilty after a week-long trial earlier this month.

The jury convicted Thompson on charges of: 4 counts of Rape in the First Degree,Sodomy in the First Degree, 5 counts of Sex Abuse in the First Degree.

Thompson was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to 125 years in prison.

Prosecutors say the charges stemmed from “repeated acts of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child.”

“The abuse began when the victim was a toddler, spanning from 2012 to 2018,” the Lane County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “The District Attorney’s Office appreciates Presiding Judge Debra Vogt’s recognition of the seriousness in this matter and reflecting that in sentencing Mr. Thompson.”

Thompson had been a leader in Eugene church communities.

“At the time of his arrest, it was reported that Thompson was a long-term member and a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Eugene and former member of Eugene Faith Center,” Eugene Police said.

In 2018, Thompson was arrested on federal child pornography charges. A FBI news release stated at the time:

FBI agents and Eugene Police officers arrested Edward Samuel Thompson, age 38, at his Eugene home on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, following the service of a federal search warrant. Agents filed a criminal complaint against Thompson, charging him with accessing, receiving, possessing, and distributing child pornography. The arrest was without incident.

At his initial appearance on Tuesday, August 21, a federal magistrate ordered Thompson held. He is currently lodged at the Springfield Municipal Jail.

Thompson is a long-time member and a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Eugene and former member of Eugene Faith Center where he still plays on a volleyball team at the church. The FBI offers this advice to concerned community members:

Parents who have a child who has come in contact with Thompson should let that child know that Thompson has been arrested for inappropriate behavior. Parents should tell that child that if Thompson did, or said, anything inappropriate to the child to let the parents know. If a child discloses an incident that did happen to him or her or that the child observed an innappropriate incident happen to someone else, the parent should not ask the child detailed questions about the incident. Instead, please contact Eugene Police Detective Chris Mackey at (541) 682-5175 or call the FBI at (541) 343-5222.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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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 Mike Jenkins Found Guilty of Sexual Abuse

pastor mike jenkins

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.

William “Mike” Jenkins, pastor of New Season Church in Townley, Alabama, was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor (a misdemeanor) on Thursday, and sentenced to one year in jail and fined $5,000. Jenkins is also a transportation supervisor for the Jasper City Board of Education.

The Daily Mountain Eagle reports:

A transportation supervisor for the Jasper City Board of Education and pastor was found guilty Thursday of sexual abuse of a minor.

William M. Jenkins, 58, of Nauvoo, was sentenced by District Judge Henry Allred to one year in the Walker County Jail on the charge of sexual abuse in the second degree, a misdemeanor. According to a court order dated Nov. 19, Jenkins pleaded not guilty. 

In addition to jail time, Jenkins is ordered to pay $5,000 in fines.

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Jenkins was initially arrested on Sept. 30, 2019, and charged with second-degree sexual abuse. 

A complaint, dated Sept. 26, 2019, alleges that on or about June 15 of last year, Jenkins had sexual contact with a 14-year-old female, inappropriately touching her genitals underneath her clothing. 

It is unclear where the alleged assault occurred.

In addition to working for Jasper City Schools, Jenkins is a pastor at New Season Church in Townley. 

Jasper City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson said she will be recommending to the school board that Jenkins be terminated of his position with the school system.  

Jenkins appealed his conviction, and is currently out of jail awaiting a jury trial.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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 Robert Gilmore, Sr. Accused of Sexual Abuse

arrested

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.

Robert Gilmore, Sr., pastor of an unnamed Evangelical church in Casper, Wyoming, stands accused of repeatedly sexually abusing church girls . While the news story does not name the church Gilmore, Sr. pastors, a LinkedIn page for Robert Gilmore, Sr. says he is the bishop of New Life Tabernacle (no web presence) in Casper.

K2 Radio reports:

[Pastor] Robert Lee Gilmore Sr. often took on a father figure role for the girls — whose dads were in prison or absent for other reasons — before sexually abusing them, court documents state.

In one case, a victim took her own life after turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with the abuse in her adult life, court documents state.

Gilmore Sr. is charged with six counts of second-degree sexual assault and seven counts of indecent liberties with a minor. If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced up to 190 years behind bars.

He has not entered a plea to the charges.

According to a heavily redacted affidavit of probable cause, a man contacted Casper police in March involving Gilmore Sr. The man told police that Gilmore Sr. spoke at a funeral for a family member. As Gilmore Sr. spoke, a woman got up and left the chapel.

The woman told the man Gilmore Sr. sexually assaulted her when she was a child and Gilmore Sr. was the pastor, court documents state.

Court documents do not specify at which church Gilmore Sr. was a pastor.

A Casper police detective contacted the girl and described an incident in 2003. She told the detective that she was in Gilmore Sr.’s office preparing for her baptism into the church when Gilmore Sr. sexually assaulted her, court documents state.

Gilmore Sr. allegedly told the girl, who was 5-years-old at the time, that God had chosen her to perform those sex acts with him and that they were necessary to prepare her to be baptized and given “the holy ghost.”

According to the affidavit, a woman came forward and told investigators that she witnessed Gilmore Sr. sexually assault a friend of hers when he was in his 20s and the girl was 11.

As the girl in that instance grew older, the sexual relationship between her and Gilmore Sr. continued, court documents state.

“(Gilmore Sr.) would provide (the alleged victim) with methamphetamine and money as a way to keep her from disclosing the sexual abuse that (Gilmore Sr.) inflicted on her as a child,” the affidavit states. That alleged victim, as an adult, took her own life in 2009.

The affidavit goes on to describe an additional victim who disclosed to a friend that Gilmore Sr. sexually abused her as a child.

Charging documents detail an incident in 2018 when a woman was taking care of her parents who lived in an apartment. An alleged victim of Gilmore Sr.’s was also at the apartment helping out when Gilmore Sr. called and said he would stop by. The alleged victim panicked to the point that she jumped out a window and started running away.

According to the affidavit, yet another alleged victim came forward and described an incident that happened in the spring of 2004 or 2005. In that case, the alleged victim described being taken into the church basement after Sunday school to change into a baptismal gown. Gilmore Sr. allegedly accompanied the girl into a closet to change her clothing. He reportedly took the girl’s clothing off, including her undergarments, and molested her.

In that instance, Gilmore Sr. told the girl that the assault was God’s will and that God would be angry at her if she did not relent.

According to court documents, police spoke with a victim from 1998 who described preparing to be baptized when Gilmore Sr. brought her to his office and said it would “hurt” God if she didn’t let him sexually abuse her.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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 Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland Rejects Plea on Sex Crime Charges

Pastor Stricjavvar Strick Strickland

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.

Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland, pastor of Second Baptist Church (website not active) in Kalamazoo, Michigan stands accused of sexually assaulting four teen boys, paying them to have sex with his wife while he watched.

Strickland faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct on a student, another on a person age 13-15 and another by force or coercion. The good pastor also faces four counts of human trafficking of a minor for commercial sexual activity and three counts of child sexually abusive activity.

MLive reports:

A Kalamazoo pastor accused of sexually assaulting four male victims between the ages of 15 and 17 is said to have paid the children to have sex with his wife while he watched.

The Rev. Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland, of Kalamazoo’s Second Baptist Church, has been charged with 11 felonies connected to alleged incidents spanning from Aug. 1, 2015- Aug. 31, 2018, according to a probable cause affidavit filed last week in Kalamazoo County District Court.

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A warrant for Strickland’s arrest was issued Aug. 21. As of Tuesday, Aug. 25, the pastor was yet to turn himself in. His attorney, Michael Hills, told MLive early Tuesday, that the two were making arrangements for the pastor to turn himself in.

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“It has been two years since these allegations first came forward and Pastor Strickland has remained in contact and available. He is not running from this,” Hills said. “Pastor Strickland remains ready to turn himself in and deal with these charges accordingly.”

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If convicted, the pastor faces a potential penalty of 15 years in prison on each of the first four charges, and 20 years on each of the other seven charges, according to his warrant.

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In a bond recommendation, filed with the court along with the arrest affidavit, Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Christin J. Mehrtens-Carlin recommends the court not allow the pastor to have any contact with the four alleged victims, his wife Jazmonique Strickland, or anyone under the age of 18.

“Per the reports, the defendant and his wife would use their employment at Phoenix High School (in Kalamazoo) and to some extent, the defendant would use his work as a pastor, to find male teens to engage in sexual activity with the wife, while the defendant watched and masturbated,” Mehrtens-Carlin writes in her bond recommendation.

Pastor Strickland calls the charges against him “absolutely preposterous.” Strickland added, “All I can say for now is that we are prepared for this fight. God will prevail.”

It is doubtful that God will show up on the scene to deliver Pastor Strickland from his predicament. Hopefully, justice will prevail. Kudos to Michigan state police and prosecutors for not letting Strickland’s notoriety stand in the way of seeking criminal charges against him.

According to an archived bio page for Strickland:

Pastor Strick Strickland succeeds Rev. Matthew W. Wright as pastor of Second Baptist Church and was elected January 22, 2012. Strickland has been preaching since age 19, a year after he got saved. He says that although he grew up in the church in Warren Hill, Mississippi, he didn’t really accept Christ until age 18. Apart of what helped him make his decision in the end was seeing his peers struggle on the streets where he grew up. In fact, he mentions that he had strayed away from church for a while. He got into trouble and landed in an alternative school. However, even there he excelled academically and tested in the top 5 percentile of students across the nation. He was in a gang and was labeled “Expected to fail”. Thus, Pastor Strickland’s story is one of how God is still a God of miracles, even today.

When asked how he knew he was called to preach, he replied, “Because it was the last thing I wanted to do”. He says that it was not only that he didn’t want to preach, but it was also that he didn’t relish the lifestyle of a preacher.

Prior to accepting the position as Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Pastor Strickland pastored at Pen Oak Missionary Baptist Church from 2005-2008, then went on to lead Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Second Baptist Church and the city of Kalamazoo hopes this is the beginning of a long stay at Second Baptist. Prior to accepting the position as Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Pastor Strickland pastored at Pen Oak Missionary Baptist Church from 2005-2008, then went on to lead Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Second Baptist Church and the city of Kalamazoo hopes this is the beginning of a long stay at Second Baptist.

Pastor Strickland is also a national recording artist and the lead singer for a group called the True Believers. We hope that through his preaching and singing many souls will be won for the Kingdom of God. Since his election at Second Baptist Church, he has been involved in the Spiritual Awakening Services at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the Jump Start Revival at his church, and spoke on 95.5 FM radio. As a young pastor, this is an example other young people that want to become pastors, ministers, singers or entrepreneurs can learn from.

Pastor Strickland relocated to Michigan, while most of his family lives in Mississippi where he was raised by his grandmother as an only child. His grandmother was a spiritually-oriented woman who helped him with his homework every night. He was in junior high school when he found out that his grandmother could not read or write. The way Strickland learned, however was heeding her advice to “sound out the words”. His mother Ida M. Turner resides in Joliet, Illinois along with his uncle, aunt, and a host of other relatives. Strickland says he is excited to be closer to his mother as he is her only child and she is his biggest fan.

An August 2018 WWMT-3 news report alleged that Strickland had a sexual relationship Aniya Mack. Mack was later murdered by her boyfriend, Donnovan Lewis. Strickland released the following statement, denying the allegations against him:

All of the things that I am being Accused of are ministry related!

1. Second Baptist under my leadership has helped more than 30 families with transportation barriers Aniya’s situation was no different.

2. We have shared thousands of dollars of resources to help members with rent, utilities, food…

3. The All Expenses Paid trip was a choir trip with 50 other people. This trip was also all expenses paid for all College Students of which there was 6-8 more! Who all shared rooms together. My family wife and kids where with us…

lastly, this is an attempt to discredit the church, the NAACP, and the black leader. However, I’m not running from this story. I am rather trying to be sensitive to the source of your information (A young man I don’t know at all. Who has killed his ex-girlfriend and is declaring himself insane!) his family deserves peace and my response to the propaganda will only disrupt their peace!

Ultimately and finally, I have no control over people’s dreams and feel that it is extremely unfair that I be held accountable for was a person thinks or imagines is happening!

In this particular case we have a young man who has confessed to murder and I’m sure that had I been a white leader here in Kalamazoo that would be no story especially based solely upon the word of a confessed killer and self-proclaimed insane suspect.

Aniya Mack’s memory deserves to be left in tack! Here is a young lady that has already lost her life and future and now she is being denigrated to nothing more than her pastor’s mistress! That’s the biggest injustice of all!

On October 23, 2020, Strickland rejected a plea deal offered to him by the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor. A scheduled probable conference was waived and pushed until early December.

CW7 reports:

A former Kalamazoo pastor charged with sexually assaulting four teenage boys, Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland, denied a plea deal Thursday, his attorney told News Channel 3.

Attorney Mike Hills declined to provide details about the offer he said the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office proposed.

A probable cause conference in the sex crimes case against Strickland that was scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, was waived and pushed until early December, Hills said.

….

Investigators claim that Strickland, a former pastor at Second Baptist Church in Kalamazoo, and his wife, Jazmonique Strickland, paid teens for sex. Strickland has denied the allegations.

Authorities said Strickland and his wife used their positions within the church and the Kalamazoo Public Schools to coerce four teen boys into having sex.

Strickland turned himself in at the Kalamazoo County Jail on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, the day after Michigan State Police declared him a fugitive. He was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond, which means the judge allowed Strickland to be released without any deposit or collateral.

The conditions of his bond also allowed Strickland to return to his home state of Mississippi, court records show.

Hills said Strickland, a father of eight children, had been working at a horse farm in Mississippi to support his wife, Jazmonique, 28, who is pregnant with the couple’s sixth child together.

No charges have been filed against Jazmonique Strickland.

Michigan State Police said its investigation into the Strickland couple is still ongoing.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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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 Shawn Greaves Pleads Guilty to Battery

shawn greaves

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

In 2017, Shawn Greaves, pastor of Faith Family Outreach Ministries in Kissimmee, Florida and a long time school teacher, was accused of battery and attempted kidnapping of another teacher.

WESH-2 reported the time:

Deputies said Shawn Greaves, 52, threw a woman in a classroom closet and made sexual advances earlier this month.

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The longtime teacher at Parkway Middle School stands accused of battery and attempted kidnapping of another teacher.

Osceola County deputies arrested Greaves on Tuesday, but the incident allegedly took place inside the school two weeks ago.

In the classroom of a third teacher, a woman told police on April 5 that Greaves, “put his hands around her buttocks area, lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder.” Greaves then allegedly carried the woman over to a closet, where he put her on a desk and, “pressed his body against hers,” thrusting several times.

The woman said she kept telling him to stop, before Greaves left.

A call went out to parents of students on Wednesday from the principal of the school, alerting them to the arrest.

Greaves is also listed as the president/director and senior pastor of Faith Family Outreach Ministries in Kissimmee, where at least one neighbor couldn’t believe he’d been arrested.

“For the most part, he’s an awesome person. I’ve never seen him do anything like that, ever,” a neighbor told WESH 2 News.

Greaves was reassigned from his work at Parkway Middle School and moved to another facility where he’s not around kids.

Although the report details sexual advances, Greaves got out of jail on Wednesday, charged only with simple battery and attempted kidnapping.

I heard nothing more about this story until a commenter recently left the following comment:

I personally worked with Pastor Greaves as a Special Education facilitator. He began a student daily prayer in the morning before school. He empathized with the students and supported the teachers. The principal, the “victim” and the other alleged witness, were all in the scheme. After posting his picture on the news, it destroyed a school community among staff, teachers, and students. This was a disgrace done to him, eventually the “victims” own lawyers dropped the charges. Finding him innocent, his faith in the Lord and his devotion to his ministry, gave him the strength to overcome. You should update your original post. Thank you.

I replied:

I found no public news story that says charges against Shawn Greaves were dropped. It is prosecutors not the victims that can drop charges against an alleged criminal, so you are most certainly wrong on this count. That said, if you have verifiable information that shows that charges against Greaves have been dropped, I will gladly amend this story. I always want these reports to be factual. I hope you understand that I can’t just “take your word for it.” Numerous people have, over the years, told me similar things about this or that accused pastor (including the pastors themselves), only to find out they were lying. All I ask is that you provide evidence for your claim that I can publicly verify.

Thanks!

Bruce Gerencser

The commenter, as is almost always the case, had no evidence for her claims. While I did not find any updated news stories about Pastor Greaves, my editor did. She located a Florida Education Practices Commission hearing disposition on Shawn Greaves’ teacher’s certificate. You can read the PDF document here.

According to this document, Greaves pled guilty to battery:

On or about November 27, 2017, as a result of the conduct alleged herein, Respondent pled guilty to False Imprisonment, and an order of Nolle Prosequi was entered for the charge, and Respondent pled guilty to Battery and adjudication was withheld.

Greaves’ teacher’s certificate was revoked for six months. He was placed on probation for two employment years.

The Education Practices Commission set other requirements for Greaves to regain his teacher’s certificate. You can find those requirements in the aforementioned document.

According to the Florida Teacher’s Certificate Database, Greaves’ certificate, as of October 14, 2020, remains revoked.

shawn greaves teaching license

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Closer to Home

guest post

Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

He made it—just barely—out of Sobibor. So, it was no surprise that any time a former Nazi was found, or a new revelation about the regime and the Holocaust emerged, he took notice.

Louis is gone now. Though I can’t imagine what he endured, in the camp or in his nightmares and flashbacks, I feel I’ve become like him, in a way. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, I can’t help but to notice when some clerical predator is exposed.

Or what he and his brethren left in their wake.

Since “coming out” about my abuse two years ago, I have met others who had to endure similar horrors, whether from priests, professors, professional colleagues, parents or others in positions of authority. I have also learned about lives, families, communities and institutions that were destroyed as a result.

Some of the institutions will be missed. Others, however, deserved, like Hitler’s regime and its agencies, to be swept into the dustbin of history.

Perhaps the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Rockville Centre and Camden won’t disappear any time soon. There can be little doubt, however, that they’ve lost their powers, including their abilities to harbor and enable priests who preyed on people’s trust.

Last week, within the space of a couple of days, they declared bankruptcy, citing the financial strain of lawsuits from sex-abuse litigation. They are, of course, not the first dioceses to take such action. But their going into receivership is significant because of their relative prominence. Camden, in New Jersey, is directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia which, in 2015, was tied with Chicago as the second-most Catholic city in the US. (Boston, New York and Pittsburgh were tied for first.) Rockville Centre, comprising the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk, is one of the largest dioceses (by population) in the nation—and the largest, to date, to declare bankruptcy. It’s also directly east of the Diocese of Brooklyn, of which it was a part until 1957.

Camden’s and Rockville Centre’s proximity to two of the largest and most Catholic American cities is reason enough to take notice of them. Equally important, though, is another characteristic they share, and I know all too well.

The parish in which I, as an altar boy, was abused by a priest, is in the heart of the Diocese of Brooklyn. In other posts, I’ve talked about the church’s centrality in my old neighborhood: Nearly everyone attended it, and I, like many of my peers, were pupils in its school. Many kids were encouraged, or even forced, to become altar boys or participate in other church activities; I, and some other kids, volunteered for such things because our families or other people in our community didn’t have the time, or didn’t know how to give us the kinds of non-material support we needed. (For some kids, that support was material.) Our parents worked long and hard (our fathers at paid jobs, our mothers at uncompensated tasks) but, because they married and birthed us when they were very young (or for other reasons), didn’t know how to deal with anything besides fawning obedience. They did not know how to respond to the kinds of tiredness, sadness, or bewilderment children experience, sometimes because for no other reason than they don’t have the language or other means of expressing it.

What I didn’t know, of course, was that at the time I was growing up, we were part of a way of life that was dying: The cops, the firefighters, the factory workers were moving their families to Rockville Centre and other places on Long Island.

And to New Jersey, where I moved with my family when I was twelve. Our new church was part of the Diocese of Trenton, the northern neighbor of Camden diocese. The city of Camden, once home to RCA and Campbell’s soup, was in steep decline. But the surrounding communities in its diocese flourished as bedroom communities to Philadelphia, from which cops, firefighters and factory workers moved.

There, and in the Rockville Centre enclaves, their parents worked even harder to pay and keep up their houses and car payments. That meant kids were, perhaps, even more isolated and alienated than they would have been in South Philly or South Brooklyn — and, in those pre-Internet days, with fewer ways of reaching others who felt the way they did.

A lonely or alienated kid is to a sexual predator—whether a priest or some other authority figure — like tinder to a forest fire. So, if a kid feels isolated in an urban enclave, imagine what it must be like in a suburban town, with the family’s breadwinner(s) commuting for several hours a day in addition to the time he/she/they work.

Fortunately for me, I did not get involved with our new church, beyond attending mass, after my family moved to New Jersey: I become more involved with Scouting (which I joined before our move) and school-related activities. But other kids who weren’t drawn to such things (literary magazines, photography clubs, sports teams and the like) were probably even more stranded than their peers in the neighborhood my family left. So, some of them might have been even easier prey for predacious priests than I was.

Although I have never met them, I thought about those young people when I heard that the Dioceses of Camden and Rockville Centre declared bankruptcy — just as I imagine my late friend Louis thought about inmates at Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and Auschwitz whenever a former Nazi was found in Cleveland or Argentina or some other place far from where they committed their horrible crimes.

In short, the bankruptcies of the Camden and Rockville Centre dioceses were personal for me — just as the capture of John Demjanjuk was for Louis, my late friend.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Willie Forrest Accused of Sexually Molesting Children

pastor willie forrest

Willie Forrest, pastor of Springhill Pope Missionary Baptist Church in Pope, Mississippi, stands accused of sexually molesting several children on his church’s property.

WLBT-3 reports:

Willie Forrest is pastor of Springhill Pope Missionary Baptist in Panola County.

Church members tell us they are shocked by the allegations. They say they haven’t heard any rumors or talk about sexual impropriety at the church.

“It’s very shocking,” said Minnie Doyle, church member.

Forrest has served as pastor at the church for 14 years.

“He had a great church,” said Doyle. “You’d never think anything like that was going on.”

Forrest is charged with three counts of molesting children under the age of 15.

District Attorney John Champion said the alleged crimes happened at the church and Forrest’s home in Coldwater where he was arrested Monday.

….

Springhill Pope Missionary Baptist Church is on a hill in the main part of the community of Pope, which has a population of about 200 people.

The church is close to an elementary school.

“I don’t like it,” said Pope resident Caroline Reddick. “It is too close to the school, and how long has it been going on? How long has he been there? That’s what I’m saying. That’s very bad.”

Word of Forrest’s arrest has spread around Pope. One woman in a convenience store said she was shocked. She said she didn’t know the pastor personally but he would visit the store occasionally and he seemed nice.

“He seemed nice.” “He had a great church.” People are shocked when they hear that a local pastor — perhaps their pastor — is accused of sex crimes. It’s as if pastors are morally superior to everyone else, pillars of moral virtue. This naivety is what allows predatory preachers to commit heinous crimes, often for years. If the Black Collar Crime series teaches us anything, it is this: pastors are not, in any way, more or less moral than the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Blind trust in church leaders by congregants and community members allows predators to cause incalculable harm to others. Until congregants start paying close attention to the behavior of church leaders, this kind of stuff will continue to happen. Forrest may be a “nice” man, a wonderful pastor of a “great” church, but according to news stories, he is also a sexual predator.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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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.