Tag Archive: Sexual Abuse

John

blood of jesusMy mom’s parents, known to me as Grandma Rausch and Grandpa Tieken, divorced in the late 1940s. By all accounts, their marriage was an alcohol-fueled, violent brawl which caused untold heartache and pain to their two children. My mother, in particular, faced the indignity and shame of being sexually molested by her father, a deep wound she carried all the days of her life.

My grandfather’s name was John. My first recollections of him come from when I was a young child. On Christmas day, both sets of my grandparents would come to our home, often arriving at the same time. Instead of figuring out a way to avoid family conflict, both John and Grandma Rausch were determined to be the grandparent of choice. Every Christmas, they would square off, each in his or her own corner. The bitterness of their divorce carried over into our family. As a child, I didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. All I knew was that Grandpa and Grandma didn’t like each other. As I got older, my grandparents finally figured out it was best if they steered clear of one another, so every year we had two Christmases and two Thanksgivings.

I saw a lot more of Grandma Rausch than I did Grandpa Tieken (John), and she became my favorite grandparent. My dad’s Hungarian parents died in 1963, weeks apart. I was six when they died, so I have very few memories of Grandpa and Grandma Gerencser. (Please see My Hungarian Grandparents, Paul and Mary Gerencser.)  Grandma Rausch, on the other hand, was very much a part of my life, all the way until she died of cancer in 1995. She bought me my first baseball glove and took me to my first baseball game, and she was the only grandparent to ever attend my Little League and Pony League games. I remember to this day hearing Grandma screaming at the umpire, telling him in no uncertain terms that the pitch to her grandson was NOT a strike. Not that it mattered. Strike or ball, I was a terrible batter, so it unlikely that I would have hit the pitch. Grandma Rausch, a stickler for proper grammar, would write me letters during my preaching days. I loved getting letters from her. I always appreciated her interest in my life and support of whatever it was that I was doing at the time. Grandma Rausch had her faults. She was an alcoholic until age sixty-five, when, due to health concerns, she quit cold turkey. Warts and all, I never doubted Grandma loved me.

I can’t say the same for John or his third wife Ann. (Please see Dear Ann.) I would love to write of my grandfather’s love and support, but alas I can’t remember a time where he told me he loved me or unconditionally supported what I was doing. On those rare occasions he “supported” my work in the ministry, there were always strings attached or criticisms heaped upon me when I didn’t meet his expectations.

I have two good memories of John, and that’s it. I am sure there were more, but I only remember two. Perhaps other good memories were drowned out by John’s violent temper and frequent criticisms of my mom, dad, and me personally. John, a pilot and mechanic, was the co-owner of T&W (Tieken and Wyman) Engine Service at Pontiac (Michigan) Airport. My first fond memory of John was when he took me up in a twin prop cargo plane he had just overhauled. My other fond memory dates back to the summer of 1968. For my eleventh birthday, John took me to watch the Detroit Tigers play the Cleveland Indians. This was the year the Tigers won the World Series. On this day, I felt close to my grandfather. Just a grandfather and his oldest grandson enjoying their favorite sport. Alas, this would be the first and last time we did anything together.

John married Ann in the late 1950s or early 1960s. She had a son by the name of David from a previous marriage. Dave was my uncle, but only a few years separated us age-wise. Dave was an avid fisherman and played baseball for Waterford Township High School. One summer, I remember us sitting around the dinner table eating and Dave saying something his stepfather didn’t like. All of a sudden, John stood, doubled up his fist, and hit Dave as hard as he could, knocking him onto the floor. Dave said nothing, but the message was clear: No one back talked to John Tieken. Dave and I became closer when I moved to Pontiac to attend Midwestern Baptist College. Dave was married and worked as a foreman for General Motors. I have fond memories of Dave helping me put a clutch in my car — he the teacher and I the student. Sadly, Dave was murdered in 1981.

Ann attended Sunnyvale Chapel, a generic Evangelical church. In the early to mid-1960s, John got “saved” and began attending church with Ann. He soon became a Fundamentalist zealot who was known for his aggressive witnessing. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it was to watch John corner a waitress so he could tell her the “truth” about Jesus and her need of salvation. John loved the Christian gospel. In his mind, when Jesus saved him, all his past sins were washed away and everything became new. He believed that whatever he did in the past was forgiven and forgotten. Forgotten by God, perhaps, but for those who were psychologically and physically harmed by him, no forgiveness was forthcoming. And John didn’t care. Jesus had forgiven him, and that’s all that mattered. My mom, late in her life, confronted her father over him sexually abusing her. She hoped he would at least admit what he did and ask for forgiveness. No admission was forthcoming. John told his daughter that his sins were under the blood and Jesus had forgiven him. Jesus may have forgiven him, but my mom sure hadn’t.

There’s so much more I could share here, but for the sake of brevity, I want to fast forward to 1980s. From 1983-1994, I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. John and Ann were quite proud of the fact that their grandson was a pastor. In their eyes, I, unlike my mother, father, and siblings, was doing the right things: serving the Evangelical God, preaching the gospel, and winning souls to Christ. For a time, they even financially supported me through donations to the church. These donations abruptly stopped when they didn’t get an annual donation statement when they thought they should have. That was the Tiekens. Much like their exacting God, displease them and judgment was sure to follow.

John and Ann came to visit the church twice in the eleven years I was there. One Sunday, John thoroughly embarrassed me in front of the entire congregation. The building was packed. This was during the time when the church was growing rapidly. After I preached and gave an invitation, I asked if anyone had something to share. John did. He stood and told the entire congregation what was wrong with my sermon. I wanted to die.

The last time John and Ann came to visit was in 1988. We were living in Junction City at the time. After church, we invited them over for dinner. In the post Dear Ann, I describe their visit this way:

Grandpa spent a good bit of time lecturing me about my car being dirty. Evidently, having a dirty car was a bad testimony. Too bad he didn’t take that same approach with Mom.

After dinner — oh, I remember it as if it were yesterday! — we were sitting in the living room and one of our young children got too close to Grandpa. What did he do? He kicked him. I knew then and there that, regardless of his love for Jesus, he didn’t love our family, and he would always be a mean son-of-a-bitch.

A decade later, John died. Upon hearing of his death, I had no emotions; I felt nothing. I had no love for the man. After all, his wife a few years prior had called to let me know that I was a worthless grandson. In fact, according to Ann, the entire Gerencser family was worthless. My sin? I couldn’t attend John’s seventy-fifth birthday party. Ann’s vicious and vindictive words finally pushed me over the edge. I told her that I was no longer interested in having any contact with them. And with that I hung up the phone. Whatever little feeling and connection I had for John and Ann Tieken died. I learned then, that some relationships — even family — aren’t worth keeping.

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: Another Day, Another Willow Community Creek Church Sex Scandal

robert sobczak jr

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.

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois, resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct. The church’s board also resigned after their colossal mishandling of the Hybel’s scandal. And now, Fox-32 reports that Willow Creek paid out $3.25 million to settle two civil sexual abuse lawsuits.

Robert Sobczak, Jr. a volunteer at Willow Creek, was convicted of sexually abusing an eight-year old church boy. He is now serving a seven year sentence for his crime. Sobczak, Jr. was also convicted of sexually abusing another church boy and given probation. The parents of these boys sued Willow Creek. The church settled the two lawsuits, paying  $1.75 million dollars to one family and  $1.5 million to the other.

Fox-32 reports:

At the time, we’re told Robert Sobczak Junior was a volunteer for the Barrington church. He’s now 24 years old, and serving a seven-year sentence for reportedly sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy.

He also pleaded guilty in 2013, the paper reports, for sexually abusing another disabled boy and received probation.

The Tribune reports there were warning signs about Sobczak, but the church failed to act. They have since settled two civil lawsuits with the boys’ families — one for $1.75 million dollars and the other for $1.5 million.

Willow Creek did not respond to FOX 32’s request for comment, but did pass along a statement calling the experience “heartbreaking” and insisting they’ve made changes.

“We have worked with law enforcement and security experts to learn how this happened and how we can ensure it never happens again,” the church said.

….

A November 2017 Daily Herald story says:

A Cook County judge has allowed an attorney to seek additional financial damages in a lawsuit against Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington on behalf of a special-needs boy who was molested there by an adult volunteer who admitted the sexual abuse.

Lawyer Kevin J. Golden’s case on behalf of the now 13-year-old Fox Lake boy against the church and Robert Sobczak, the volunteer in question, began in Cook County circuit court in February 2014. His client has autism, ADHD and a chromosomal disorder called DiGeorge syndrome.

Golden said the case has dragged on long enough.

“The church has fought this from Day One and has not taken responsibility,” he said. “We look forward to our day in court.”

Willow Creek issued a statement on the suit Tuesday.

“As this is a pending legal matter, we respect the privacy of the parties involved and are limited in what we can comment about at this time,” the statement says. “However, Willow Creek Community Church has done everything it can to assist in this investigation and litigation. We take very seriously the safety of children entrusted to our care and hope to have the opportunity to work to reach a resolution in this case.”

The suit alleges Willow Creek was negligent by not properly supervising Sobczak, 24, who records show remains in Graham Correctional Center in downstate Hillsboro for other sexual abuse convictions not involving the boy in the lawsuit. The former Hoffman Estates man received probation in December 2013 after pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse against that boy.

….

Court documents say the boy’s mother placed him in Willow Creek’s Promiseland program for special-needs children when she attended a church service on Feb. 17, 2013. The suit alleges Willow Creek did not enforce a rule that two adults were to be with the children at all times, leading to Sobczak’s removing the boy from a class and molesting him in a sensory room.

….

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Bible Teacher Robert Browning Accused of Child Sex Crimes

robert browning

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 Browning, a Bible teacher at Cedar Creek Christian School in Jacksonville, Florida — a ministry of Cedar Creek Baptist Church — was charged today with lewd battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, and transmission of material harmful to a minor. Allegedly, Browning allowed a minor church girl to give him a blow job inside Cedar Creek Baptist’s building.

News 4 reports:

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.

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

The girl also said she performed consensual oral sex on Browning at the church, while he touched her inappropriately, police said.

According to the report, investigators found text messages between Browning and the girl about the incident.

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.”

 

Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo Victor Monteiro Accused of Sexual Abuse

malo victor monteiro

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.

Malo Victor Monteiro, former youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and former assistant pastor at Menifee Baptist Church in Menifee, California, stands accused of sexually abusing numerous children over a twenty year period. The Press-Enterprise reports:

A youth pastor in Wildomar was arrested Friday on suspicion of sexually assaulting children over a nearly 20-year span.

Malo Victor Monteiro, 45, of Colton, was booked into Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of intent to commit rape, mayhem or sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts with force on a child under 14, lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, distributing harmful matter and sexual penetration by force, according to the Riverside County jail log.

Today, a woman publicly accused Monteiro of sexually abusing her while she attended Faith Baptist, ABC-7 reports:

A woman came forward Monday to describe being sexually abused and how her former youth pastor Victor Monteiro groomed her.

“It was little by little, but then he would tell you, ‘You’re really cool. You’re special to me,'” April Avila said. “He would punch you on the shoulder, you know, be the cool youth pastor. Then it became caressing and touching your butt.”

Monteiro was arrested last week on numerous felony charges related to sexual assault on children that spans two decades. Avila said she came to know Montiero when she and her family attended Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar.

“The more involved I was, that’s when things began to escalate at church and away from church,” she said.

Avila is just one suspected victim, and there are others. Another suspected victim of abuse is suing Faith Baptist Church, accusing church administrators of knowing about the allegations and covering up for Monteiro.

In the lawsuit, it claims the church was aware of another youth pastor, who is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship, but the entity ignored it. In doing so, it allowed Monteiro to prey on his victims.

“He knew very well what I had gone through,” Kathy Durbins said.

Durbins is Monteiro’s sister-in-law. She said she was involved in an inappropriate relationship at Faith Baptist when she was a teenager. She said her brother-in-law used his knowledge of the church’s cover up to hide his own crimes.

“I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. There was no law enforcement called. So basically it was a big cover up,” she said.

….

Faith Baptist Church is pastored by Bruce Goddard. Menifee Baptist Church is pastored by Pat Cook. Both congregations are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. I previously wrote a post about Bruce Goddard titled, Pastor Bruce Goddard and His Bait and Switch Tactics.

Black Collar Crime: Highpoint Church Gives Chris Conlee a Standing Ovation

wtf

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

Last week, I wrote a post titled, Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal. I detailed the fall out from Andy Savage’s admission that he sexually assaulted a church girl twenty years ago. Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee, received a standing ovation from congregants after he oh-so-humbly admitted the “sexual incident” twenty years before. Savage later resigned after public outrage over his tone-deafness and lack of true repentance and sorrow.

Yesterday, Savage’s fellow pastor Chris Conlee (who resigned last week) had an oh-so-touching parting moment with his church. Afterward, Conlee received a STANDING ovation, thus proving that the entire Highpoint congregation is deaf and blind, oblivious to how such crass behavior appears to outsiders. It’s evident that Highpoint and its leaders do not take sexual abuse seriously. Had they done so, they would have never hired Savage — the church new about the sexual abuse allegation when they hired him — and after hiring him anyway, the church should have fired Conlee for giving Savage cover. Instead, both men received ovations. Yes, both Savage and Conlee are gone, but there’s no sign from Highpoint that they understand their own culpability in this sordid story of sexual abuse and cover-up.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: Savage and Conlee will resurface somewhere, ready to shear more sheep on their road to personal fame and glory.

Why Southern Baptists Aren’t Serious About Sexual Abuse

just kiddingThe Southern Baptist Convention recently held its annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. Thanks to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Baptist luminaries such as Paul Pressler and Andy Savage, and Paige Patterson’s indifference towards victims of sexual abuse, SBC leaders and messengers came to Dallas prepared to admit that they had shown crass indifference towards women and sexual abuse. With great humility and repentance, they offered up and passed resolutions that called on Southern Baptist pastors to keep their dicks in their pants and demanded SBC churches and colleges pay attention to sexual abuse allegations from congregants and students — mainly women. Wearing sackcloth and ashes, Southern Baptists promised to do better by treating women with respect, recognizing that they play an important part in the lives of SBC churches. And then, quicker than a blink of an eye, Southern Baptists showed everyone who is paying attention that they are not serious about sexual misconduct by pastors and congregants alike. Southern Baptists proved yet again that they can talk a good line, but when it comes to implementing procedures and practices to put an end to the sexual abuse stench rising up from their midst, messengers can’t be bothered with acting morally and ethically. In other words, after days of meetings, the SBC remains a good old boys club in which women are treated as second-class citizens.

One resolution reminded convention attendees that the SBC is committed to complementarianism; that women are weaker vessels whom God commands to submit to their husbands. Women remain barred from church leadership positions, including the office of pastor. As far as the SBC is concerned, it’s still 1950, and women, by God, should know their place! Southern Baptists can try to spin this any way they want, but the fact remains that women are considered inferior, in need of male protection, and it has to be this way because, well, God said so.

Messengers were asked to create a denomination-level, nationwide database of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, and people with positions of authority who have been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, sexual assault, and child abuse. This database would allow churches to investigate prospective pastors and church leaders before hiring them. This seems like a no-brainer to me, yet people such as Christa Brown have been demanding such a database for over a decade, without success. What possible reason could Southern Baptist leaders give for their inaction? At the Dallas meeting, church leaders professed their commitment to putting an end to pastor sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, yet when it came time to pass a resolution to establish this database, messengers punted it to a committee, delaying for another year any serious denominational action on sexual abuse.

Two main arguments are given for their inaction. First, people are demanding that abusers be placed in the database based on allegation alone. Shouldn’t these alleged abusers be treated as innocent until proven guilty? The short answer to this question is hell no. The purpose of tracking allegations is to look for patterns of abuse. Since most abusers and predators go unpunished — often for years — it seems to me that it is unwise and naïve to only track pastors and other church leaders who have been convicted of criminal behavior. I would think churches would want to know if candidates for their open pulpits had been accused previously of sexual misconduct. A single allegation might be dismissed if there is not credible proof, but when a so-called man of God has been accused several times of crimes against women or children (and in a few cases men), at the very least churches should consider the maxim, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It is highly improbable that a pastor would be accused of similar crimes at several different churches without him being guilty. While women and children can and do make false allegations, such falsities are rare. The reason for this is simple. When women, teenagers, or children make allegations against a church leader, their lives are opened up to scrutiny and criticism. Sadly, Southern Baptist churches, along with their Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) counterparts, are well known for covering up abuse allegations or making victims think they are to blame for what happened to them. Few women would be willing to expose themselves in this way if their allegations were untrue. The Black Color Crime Series focuses on clergy sexual misconduct. Almost five hundred stories have been posted, yet only a handful of the allegations have not been proven true. When a church woman or teenager says, my pastor sexually abused me, it’s a safe bet that she is telling the truth. Playing the innocent-until-proven-guilty game is just another way for the SBC to avoid having to come to terms with their horrible mistreatment of and indifference towards sexual abuse victims.

Second, Southern Baptists opposed to establishing a database argue that because each SBC church is independent and governs itself, the denomination can’t require them to provide data for the database. While this is certainly the case, it is within the power of the denomination to change its ways. Maybe it’s time to change church polity, and demand that if churches want to be members in good standing then they must report all allegations of sexual misconduct to the denomination. If congregations are expected to report membership numbers, attendance, baptisms, and total offerings, surely denominational leaders can demand that they provide the names of church leaders and congregants who have been accused of criminal behavior. I would think that the major insurance companies that provide insurance for SBC churches could demand database participation in order for churches to receive insurance coverage. Besides, the SBC has booted churches out of the denomination for all sorts of reasons — polity be damned — so is within the realm of possibility for the SBC to establish the database in question and discipline and/or excommunicate congregations who refuse to participate.

As it stands now, the Southern Baptist Convention is providing cover for abusers and predators. No one should expect the denomination to change until they stop their silly games and establish a national database. While doing so will not eliminate sexual abuse and predatory behavior in their churches, it will cut down on offending pastors and congregants moving on to new churches during the dark of the night.

I am not optimistic that the SBC will establish such a database. I’ve had a good bit of interaction with Southern Baptist churches, including pastoring an SBC church in Claire, Michigan. In 2005, I candidated at several SBC churches in West Virginia. The level of dysfunction found in these churches far surpasses that which I experienced in non-SBC churches. One church had a family who had fled from another state over allegations of sexual misconduct. The church took this family in without seriously investigating the allegations against them. Church leaders said, Brother and Sister So-and-So are fine, upstanding Christians. They told us the allegations levied against them were just a BIG misunderstanding. This couple was given free access to young, vulnerable congregants. Most SBC churches are quite small, attendance-wise, so when someone volunteers to “help,” church leaders are quick to accept their offers. Sexual predators count on easy access to new victims. They know how to play the church game. They know how to look the part and say the right things. And once they are given freedom to “minister,” these snakes-in-the-grass slither through the church, misusing and abusing vulnerable adults, teenagers, and children.

The Southern Baptists are worried — panicked, is a better word — over continued decreasing attendance. While the reasons for their decline are many, one obvious reason is that SBC churches are no longer considered safe havens. I am of the opinion that if parents plan on attending church, they shouldn’t let their children out of their sight. And since many of the sexual abuse scandals revolve around youth pastors and youth workers, parents should not allow their teens to attend youth meetings or entertainment activities. Church leaders can no longer be trusted to do the right thing. Congregants should stop providing their children as sacrificial lambs for predators. Just because a church conducts background checks on its employees and ministry leaders doesn’t mean that there is no risk for abuse. Many churches only conduct a criminal background check one time. This is why a national, denomination-wide database of abuse allegations is so important. The existence of a database forces congregations and their leaders to be accountable for what goes on in their churches. And at the end of the day, accountability is all that matters. Families deserve a safe place to worship their God, and churches who refuse to provide such safety should be outed, ridiculed, and banished. Surely Christians will agree with me when I say that churches who don’t protect the most vulnerable among them don’t deserve continued existence. As far as the Southern Baptist Convention is concerned, the ball is in their court. It will be interesting to see what they do in the coming months to address clergy sexual abuse and sexual misconduct in general. Past experience tells me nothing will be done. Why? Because politics, the culture war, and internecine fighting over Calvinism, women preachers, and LGBT congregants are far more important than protecting the least of these. If Southern Baptists can’t protect church children and teenagers, then perhaps it’s time to put a millstone around said Baptists’ necks and cast them into the sea. Perhaps, then, their floating, rotting, bloated corpses will provide an object lesson to other sects and churches of what happens when church leaders turn a blind eye to abuse.

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 Pastor Henry Clarke Admits to Sexually Abusing Boys in the 1960s

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.

Retired Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor Henry Clarke found himself with some explaining to do after it was reported that sexually abused three boys in the 1960s. Clarke admitted his crimes, saying that he abused the boys, but after moving from Ireland to Canada in the 1970s, he has not abused any children.  I assume Clarke was not prosecuted for his crimes, not an uncommon outcome in the 1960s.

The Interior News reports:

Henry Clarke, who served in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church for over 30 years, admitted in interviews with BBC North Ireland and CTV Saskatoon that he had abused three young boys in the late 1960s.

Clarke claims the abuse took place in his home country, and he has not abused any children since immigrating to Canada in the late ‘70s.

He moved to Smithers in 2001 and served at the former Alliance church until 2006, when the district shut the church on Upper Viewmount Road down due to “internal disagreements.”

….

He moved to Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, where he now lives in retirement.

Documentation of a confession Clarke made to the North Irish authorities in 1985 resurfaced in 2016, and BBC North Ireland tracked him down to his Saskatchewan home in March of the following year.

“They arrived at my door without any warning and handed me a letter and… you know, I had already spoken to the [North Ireland] police in the 1980s, and was quite surprised about the way the thing was handled,” Clarke told The Interior News.

“I mean, I said yes,that I had behaved in such a way. But the [BBC North Ireland] interviewer put his own slant on the whole story. He had suggested that I’d used coming to Canada to run away from everything; that was not true at all.”

….

“I put in over 30 years as a pastor, and I believe that I’d done an honest job. It has been difficult. Certainly there have been those that have been very supportive, and there have been a number of people who have not been supportive. But I belong to a very supportive church here, and the community here has been very supportive.”

“I’m surprised that it’s well over a year now that this is coming up again, you know? I certainly am very sorry that I’ve hurt anybody, but I certainly take responsibility for my behaviour, which is over 50 years ago,” Clarke said.

“I mean, it’s one of those situations in life, if you had it to live over again you’d know better, but … that’s where I’m at, and I’m trying to live my life now the best I can.”

Only Clarke knows whether he has abused children since the initial report of abuse. At the very least, Clarke should have told the churches he pastored about his past, and he should never have been permitted to be around children. What I want to know is this: Did the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination know of Clarke’s past? If they did, I would love to hear their explanation for allowing him to pastor.

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Doug Edwards Charged With Sexual Abuse of a Minor

pastor doug edwards

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.

Doug Edwards, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ketchikan, Alaska and a recently retired home economics teacher at Ketchikan High School, was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor.  According to KRBD, Edwards allegedly sexually assaulted a fourteen-year-old church girl. According to police, Edwards has admitted his crimes.  Additionally, KDRB reports that Edwards assaulted the girl in the church basement, at his home, and at school. Edwards was an equal opportunity abuser.

Edwards was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Edwards’ church bio page states:

Born on October 30, 1958, Doug was raised in a military family and was able to live in many places including Morocco and Japan.  He graduated high school in Alabama in 1977 and moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1978.  In 1995 he received a Master of Divinity Degree from the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and has served as a senior pastor since the fall of 1988.

Doug moved to Ketchikan, Alaska in May of 1997 to be the pastor of First Baptist Church, a position in which he is still serving.  He also teaching Culinary Arts in Ketchikan High School.

Doug has been married to his wife **** since 1980 and has three ****, all who are graduates of Ketchikan High School.

Sexual Abuse and the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen

jack hyles 1973

The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, spent decades training Fundamentalist pastors through his annual pastors’ school, Hyles-Anderson College, and country-wide Sword of the Lord conferences. Hyles was a powerful motivator and speaker. In the 1970s and 1980s, I heard Hyles preach many times. I remember coming home from hearing him preach, filled with renewed desire to serve God and build a New Testament Baptist church that would reach thousands of people for Christ. Hyles was the type of preacher who could motivate pastors in such a way that they would be willing to charge the gates of hell with a squirt gun — an empty one at that.

Hyles taught pastors how to handle accusations and conflict in their churches. One line that stood out — I heard Hyles say it several times was If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen. Hyles often talked about gossip and false allegations, telling pastors that they should teach congregants not to believe such things unless they saw them for themselves. Hyles had Biblical support for his approach:

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father … Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:1, 17-19)

Elders (pastors), according to the Apostle Paul, are to be considered worthy of double honor and revered as fathers are. Accusations leveled against pastors were to be rejected unless they could be confirmed by two or three eye-witnesses. Thus, if a woman says the pastor raped her, the church was to reject her allegations unless two or three people saw their pastor rape the woman. In other words, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

Since most church sex crimes involving pastors, youth directors, missionaries, deacons, church bus drivers, and Sunday school teachers take place in secret without others seeing the abominable behavior, this means, according to Jack Hyles, that allegations of sexual misconduct should be rejected out of hand. No eye witnesses? No crime. Welcome to the Jack Hyles Rule®.

This kind of thinking allowed Hyles and countless pastors trained and influenced by him to ignore criminal behavior within their churches or to excuse their own behavior. When confronted with allegations of sexual assault, Hyles influenced preachers to say, did you see this happen? Were you there? If the accuser said no, then the allegation was rejected out of hand. If the accuser said yes, then he or she would be asked, did anyone else see this happen? If the answer was no, then nothing more was done about the allegation. Thanks to the Jack Hyles Rule®, countless abusers and predators escaped punishment for their crimes, including Jack Hyles’ son David.

Hyles and other like-minded pastors groomed their churches to turn a blind eye to sexual abuse, adultery, and other criminal behavior. Remember, church, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Throw in sermons about pastoral authority (Hebrews 13:7), not touching men appointed by God to preach his words (Psalm 105:15), and bears eating people who slander pastors (2 Kings 2:23-24), it should come as no surprise, then, that congregants were fearful and hesitant about voicing accusations against their pastor and other church leaders.

Add to this the fact that many churches are secretive about sexual misconduct in their midst. Members are expected to trust church leaders, and if nothing is ever said about a matter, it’s because there was a good reason for not saying anything. I can’ tell you how many times I have heard through the grapevine that a pastor or some of other church leader has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, yet the powers that be refuse to publicly acknowledge the allegations or inform the church about how the matter is being dealt with. My wife’s parents have attended the same Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church for over forty years. When asked about what happened to so-and-so after he was accused of rape/sodomy/sexual assault, Polly’s parents tell us, we don’t know. Pastor never told us anything about this matter. He asked us to trust him and not talk about Brother So-and-So’s criminal behavior. So, they didn’t. And as long as good people such as they sit silently in the pews and do not demand full disclosure, sex crimes and illicit affairs will be swept under the rug.

Did your church or pastor promote/use the Jack Hyles Rule®? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Are you unfamiliar with Jack Hyles? Please read:

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters

Jack Hyles Gives Advice on How to Raise a Girl

Jack Hyles Teaches Parents How to Indoctrinate Their Baby

Jack Hyles Tells Unsubmissive Woman to Kill Herself

Jack Hyles Tells Christian Women it is All Up to Them

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome

Cindy Schaap, Daughter of Jack Hyles, Divorces Convicted Felon Jack Schaap

What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were Abuse (features letters and texts Jack Schaap sent to a minor girl in his church)

Man Arrested on Child Abuse Charges Previously “Flagged” by Vineyard Columbus as Unsuitable to Work With Children

matthew gattonThe 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.

Vineyard Columbus church, located in Columbus, Ohio, finds themselves with some explaining to do after “flagging” Matthew Gatton as unsuitable to work with children, but not reporting their suspicions to police. Gatton, a mental health worker and an academic mentor for Kiddie Academy of Reynoldsburg, was arrested Tuesday on charges of gross sexual imposition. According to a TV-10 news report, Gatton admitted fondling an eleven-year-old boy numerous times. Does anyone think this was Gatton’s first offense? That’s a rhetorical question.

According to Vineyard Columbus, a five franchise megachurch, church leaders became concerned over Gatton — not saying what concerned them — and flagged him in their internal system as “not suitable to work with children.”  The question I have for Vineyard Columbus is this: why didn’t you report your suspicions about Gatton to the police or child protective services? Doing so might have kept Gatton from molesting his current victim. Instead, Vineyard Columbus checked a box and moved one to greater works for Jesus. According to news reports, the church later terminated Gatton as a volunteer, but all this did, if allegations are true, is send Gatton looking for new hunting grounds.

Vineyard Columbus released the following statement:

We take the safety and security of our children very seriously and we have policies and procedures in place to ensure our church is a safe place for young people.

Your actions, Vineyard Columbus, suggest otherwise. Annotating Gatton’s file and dismissing him as a volunteer solved the problem for you, but it did nothing for possible victims who would later come in contact with him. Vineyard Columbus bears some culpability for what Gatton did after leaving the church. To know and say nothing, is, in my opinion, criminal.

And just as I was preparing to publish this post, Channel Ten posted a story alleging Gatton’s molestation of a then seven-year-old male relative. The parents of boy reported Gatton to police, but nothing came of their allegations. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said “this was a two-year-old allegation that the police and we were not able to corroborate. Given the burden of proof we have in a criminal case, we didn’t feel we had the ability to go forward.”

Channel 10 reports:

Gatton was an employed by OhioGuidestone as a mental health worker.

“It seemed like Matthew was a godsend, to be honest,” said the mother of that boy.

We’re not identifying them, to protect his anonymity.

“He helped him a lot with anger management, how to deal with regular day to day stuff.”

But this week Westerville Police said Gatton admitted to touching their son’s penis between 20 to 50 times.

“It’s just such a shock and betrayal,” said the boy’s father. “It’s a sucker punch and we’re still reeling from it.”

Public records reveal a long, disturbing trail of red flags in Gatton’s history with children.

Vineyard Columbus church says approximately five years ago, Gatton was a volunteer with their kids’ ministry.

According to a 2016 Columbus Police report, Gatton’s sister in law, an associate at the church, said Gatton “was asked to leave after complaints by parents that he was behaving inappropriately.”

Vineyard says it flagged Gatton in its internal system as unsuitable to work with children, but did not notify police.

Over years, Gatton has worked with kids at the YWCA Columbus, Kiddie Academy of Reynoldsburg, The Columbus Academy summer program.

In 2016, a family member reported him to Columbus Police for allegedly molesting a 7-year-old relative.

Prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.

But by this time, Gatton had been working for more than a year as a teaching assistant at Ventures Academy in Delaware County, a program of the Educational Service Center.

His personnel file, a public record, contains repeated warnings and write-ups for “inappropriate behavior with students,” including “allowing a student to sit in (his) lap, allowing a student to put his head in (his) lap” and discussions about private body parts.

In February 2016, Gatton was removed from the classroom and resigned under threat of termination.

That same month, the Educational Service Center reported his misconduct to the Ohio Department of Education.

But it was nearly two years- January of 2018- before the state completed its investigation.

And as of Thursday, his substitute teaching license is still valid.

….

Vineyard Columbus church says it is required by law to report any suspected child abuse or neglect, but “we received no accusations or evidence of abuse relating to Gatton.”

We repeatedly asked them what concerns were serious enough to prompt his termination, but not serious enough to report to police, but they wouldn’t answer.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelist Acton Bowen Accused of Sex Crimes in Florida

acton bowen

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 Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Evangelist Acton Bowen Arrested on Child Sex Charges,  Black Collar Crime: Why Did Young Boys Need to be Protected from Evangelist Acton Bowen? Black Collar Crime: Evangelist Acton Bowen Accused of Additional Sex Crimes and Black Collar Crime: District Attorney Says Evangelist Acton Bowen is a ‘Danger to Every Child in This Community’ for further information about Acton Bowen.)

Acton Bowen, an Evangelical evangelist, stands accused of committing sex crimes in Florida. ABC 33/40 reports:

 The list of sexual abuse accusations against evangelist Acton Bowen has crossed state lines. Bowen was charged with lewd or lascivious battery in Bay County, Florida according to the local sheriff’s office.

The charge was filed on May 23rd. According to Florida state law, a person commits lewd or lascivious battery by engaging in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age or encouraging, forcing, or enticing any person less than 16 years of age to engage in sexual activity.

….

I suspect that this will not be the last time one of Bowen’s victims comes forward alleging sexual misconduct.

Bowen remains jailed in Florida, unable to post a $1.06 million bond.

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Daycare Director Amanda McKee Accused of Failing to Report Child Sex Crime

amanda mckee

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.

Earlier this year, Benjamin Roberts, a childcare worker at Wylie Baptist Church Child Development Center in Abilene, Texas was arrested on child sex crime and child pornography charges. He has also been charged with the continuous abuse of children.  On Tuesday, an arrest warrant was issued for Amanda McKee, the director of Child Development Center. She is charged with failing to report the alleged crimes committed by Roberts.  Yesterday, McKee turned herself in and was quickly released after posting a $2,000 bond.