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Tag: Sexual Abuse

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Estevan Diaz Accused of Sexual Assault

estevan diaz

Estevan Diaz, a youth pastor at Cascade Community Church in Cascade, Idaho, stands accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

The Lewiston Tribune reports:

A youth pastor at the Cascade Community Church was arrested last week for felony sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl, according to Valley County court records.

Estevan Diaz, 45, was arrested Dec. 29 and charged with five counts of lewd conduct with a child younger than 16 and two counts of enticing a child through the internet, video image or other communication device.

Diaz was fired from his position at the church, Pastor Andy Wegener said.

“The church is shocked and grieved over what has happened, and we are working with all individuals who have been impacted to get them every resource available for healing,” Wegener said.The victim’s mother reported to the Valley County Sheriffs Office that there were more than 700 inappropriate texts between Diaz and her child, court records said.

Police questioned Diaz and uncovered seven incidents of sexual contact between Diaz and the victim in December, the records said.

….

Diaz had been a youth pastor at the church at 109 W. Pine St. in Cascade since July 2021.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Our Pastor Looked at Child Pornography and Took Inappropriate Pictures, but He’s a Really Nice Guy

father stephen pohl

I have known Stephen Pohl since the day he was born. I seriously doubt that these allegations will be proven. He said mass at my mothers [sic] passing and has been a friend to my family for over 50 years. It is painful because we are again seeing the pillory [sic] of another priest. Father Joe Hemmerly has been dogged by allegations all stemming from putting Lotion on the Sun Burn of a camper at the summer camp he ran. Many priests are unfairly targeted and I will be seriously surprised if these allegations pan out.

Father Stephen Pohl Supporter

Another day, another Catholic priest is arrested/charged/convicted of sexually molesting children. In August 2015, Stephen Pohl, 57, a pastor at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky was arrested and charged with the possession of child pornography. According to the Courier Journal, Pohl “admitted to accessing the pornographic images of nude underage boys on computers at the church rectory and office between January and August 2015.” In January, Pohl admitted his guilt and signed a plea agreement that could result in him spending 33 months in a federal penitentiary. Pohl would also be required to register as a sex offender and face a “lifetime of supervision by the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.”

According to Courier-Journal report:

The federal case began after a 10-year-old St. Margaret Mary student told his mother that “Father Steve” singled him out at an after-school club to take a series of “weird” photos on his cell phone. The youth posed with his hands on his knees and legs spread apart, following the priest’s orders, according to the affidavit.

When the parents eventually confronted Pohl about the pictures, the affidavit details, they saw similar pictures of another child on the priest’s phone and reported it to law enforcement.

According to another Courier-Journal report, Louisville Metro Police Crimes Against Children Unit detective Dan Jackman is quoted as saying:

“One can clearly see up the child’s shorts and underwear,” Jackman wrote of one of the photos while another is “focused on the child’s genitals.”

You would think that St. Margaret Mary parishioners would be calling for Father Pohl’s head. Nope. According to WLKY, several Pohl supporters have written U.S. District Judge David Hale, asking him to be lenient when sentencing Pohl on March 29, 2016. After all, Pohl is “presently working with a psychologist. It has assisted me in understanding what is happening here.” What IS happening here? What is happening is that a Catholic priest is sexually attracted to boys and he got caught accessing internet child pornography. He also took photographs of young St. Margaret Mary boys. What more does anyone need to know? Pohl is a pedophile. Does anyone honestly think this was Pohl’s first time looking at child porn? Does anyone seriously think that he looked but didn’t touch? Not me.

While I don’t think Pohl should be locked away for life, I have serious reservations about any treatments that purport to “cure” pedophiles. If there is no cure, should men such as Pohl be permitted to roam free in public? Should they — after 20 hail Marys and 50 Our Fathers — be permitted to return to the church and have access to children? I hope not. Pohl should NEVER be permitted to be alone with children.

And what’s with those who write letters of support? I have noticed in other sex crime cases involving children/teenagers and clergymen that these predators always have supporters urging the courts to not be too hard on the convicted felon. Several years ago, Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, was convicted of a sex crime and sentenced to 12 years in prison. I was astounded by all the letters that were written in his support. Schaap’s supporters commented on this blog, suggesting that Schaap was not to blame for his crimes. He was tired, had medical problems, the girl seduced him, said Schaap supporters.

Why is it that many Christians are unable to see people as they are? I suspect the main reason is cognitive dissonance. On Sundays, members see nice, loving, kind, and supportive Father Pohl or Pastor Schaap. During the week, these “nice” men are surfing child porn sites or shagging church teenagers. Every year, hundreds and hundreds of “nice” preachers are arrested, charged, and convicted of sex crimes. How can these things be? cry church members. On Sundays, these men preached sermons, blessed the communion elements, and glad-handed with parishioners after services. During the week they visited the sick, cared for widows, and took groceries to the hungry. Everything about their lives said these are “nice” men. Yet, in the shadows of their lives, these men committed crimes that Christians and atheists alike find reprehensible. The cognitive dissonance is so great that parishioners convince themselves that their sexual predator pastors and priests are misguided and weak — but still “nice” men. Yet, when asked if they would let their children or grandchildren spend an unsupervised weekend with these men, I suspect most parents and grandparents would emphatically say, NO!

I have long argued that the Christian notion of atonement and forgiveness gets in the way of people seeing sexual predators as they are — men who prey on trusting, defenseless children and teenagers. No amount of prayers, magic mumbo-jumbo at an old-fashioned altar, or confessions can erase the fact that these men committed heinous crimes. They are not “nice” men. They are sexual predators who deserve punishment for their crimes. Let the mothers of convicted sexual predators tell the courts how “nice” their sons are. That is what mothers do. Church members, however, should spend their time helping the victims and making sure such crimes NEVER happen again. Louisville Catholics should be demanding a full accounting from diocese officials. What did they know and when did they know it? Were they aware of Pohl’s perverse desires? If they were, what steps did they take to make sure he no longer had access to parish children? As is the case in many Catholic parishes, sex crimes by priests are buried with the hope that they will remain so until the statute of limitations runs out. Just what Jesus would do, right?

In 2016, Pohl was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jared Olivetti Accused of Not Reporting Sex Crimes

pastor jared olivetti

Jared, Olivetti, the pastor of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Indiana has been put on temporary leaving pending an ecclesiastical investigation of his lack of urgency in responding to inappropriate behavior and sexual offenses by a boy at the church. As of today, Olivetti has not been charged with a crime (but he damn well should be). Immanuel Reformed is affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America — a Fundamentalist sect.

The Indianapolis Star reports:

Jared Olivetti, the West Lafayette pastor accused of mishandling the response to sexual abuse involving minors in his congregation, has been placed on leave effective immediately, pending the results of an ecclesiastical trial.

Olivetti and the 2020 elder board of the Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church were the subject of a December IndyStar investigation, which found they failed to act with urgency in responding to inappropriate behavior and sexual offenses by a boy at the church.

The boy is a relative of Olivetti. Rather than immediately recuse himself, IndyStar found Olivetti took advantage of his position as a leader to interfere with the church’s response.

….

Olivetti’s leave was announced to the denomination Thursday afternoon in a letter from the Synod Judicial Commission, a copy of which was obtained by IndyStar. The Synod, which is the national governing body in the Reformed Presbyterian denomination, is currently overseeing the investigation into Olivetti and his fellow elders.

The religious charges against Olivetti were accepted by the commission late last year, but the decision to place him on leave wasn’t announced until Thursday. As of Jan. 2, Olivetti was still preaching at Immanuel.

….

In accordance with the denomination’s Book of Discipline, Olivetti is required to “refrain from the exercise of office of teaching elder until the judicial process is complete,” the commission announced Thursday. 

“By imposing this requirement,” the letter says, “the SJC in no way pre-judges the case, but acknowledges the gravity of the accusations against Mr. Olivetti.”

….

Also facing ecclesiastical charges are elders Keith Magill, Ben Larson and David Carr. Charges have been dropped against former Immanuel elders Nate Pfeiffer and Zachary Blackwood, who resigned their posts following an investigation at the Presbytery level last year.

Church records indicate the sexual abuse  — which involved eight children from multiple families within the congregation — occurred on and off church property between spring 2019 and March 2020. Parents told IndyStar the children reported over- and under-clothes touching, oral-genital contact and penetration.

In addition to Olivetti’s clear conflict of interest, several people close to the situation told IndyStar the church’s elders chose to publicly minimize the nature of the incidents and protected their pastor over the congregation’s children.

In a July 2020 meeting, Olivetti told the pastor of a neighboring church he and his elder board were going to hide the allegations from higher authorities in the denomination.

“We’re not sending a report up,” Olivetti said during the conversation, an audio recording of which was obtained by IndyStar. “It’s not going to be in our regular session minutes. It’s going to be in a different (record).”

Last summer, the boy was found by a juvenile judge to be delinquent on what would be multiple felony counts of child molesting if he had been charged as an adult.

An ecclesiastical judicial commission, convened in late 2020, investigated the actions taken by Olivetti and the other elders and presented their findings to Presbytery in March 2021. IndyStar was provided with a copy of this report, which the Presbytery has not made public. Its findings included: 

Olivetti used “undue, excessive, or improper” influence to shape the church’s response. 

Conflicts of interest were “not understood, ignored — or worse veiled.”  

Church leaders committed a series of failures “to protect and provide the safety” of those in their charge. 

Leaders did not respond with urgency “fitting the gravity of the circumstances.”  

Elders failed to remove Olivetti from all discussions and decisions despite giving the impression he had been recused. 

Charges presented by those investigators were not accepted by the Presbytery. A second commission has since been convened — the Synod judicial commission — and accepted charges against Olivetti, Magill, Larson and Carr late last year. The exact wording and nature of those charges is unknown.

In preliminary meetings, the defense asked the Synod judicial commission to vacate all charges and nullify the investigation, according to the letter, a request the commission denied.

“The SJC determined that the denial of judicial process was unfair to all — accusers and accused alike,” the commission wrote. “A full, fair, and impartial opportunity to fully ‘address this matter’ is necessary to bring it to completion.”

The Indianapolis Star story ends with this statement:

Indiana law requires any adult who suspects a child is being abused or neglected to report those suspicions to law enforcement or the Indiana Department of Child Services.

And this is why Olivetti and his fellow elders should be arrested and charged with failure to report. Unfortunately, until prosecutors and law enforcement arrest and prosecute clerics who disobey reporting laws, this kind of behavior will continue. Based on the above news report, Olivetti broke the law and he should be made to pay for his crimes. It’s really that simple.

I don’t typically make long excerpts from news articles, but the following story in the Indianapolis Star gives important context to this story and why Olivetti should be prosecuted:

From the pulpit, Pastor Jared Olivetti issued a warning.

In his Nov. 8, 2020, sermon, he cautioned the congregation at Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church against religious authorities who might cause them harm by abusing their power.  

“We are in danger, Lord, and we don’t always realize it; we don’t always wrestle with that,” Olivetti said. “So, we pray that you would protect us. 

“Lord, we pray that you would protect this particular congregation from me, from anything I might say or do that would detract from the gospel of Jesus Christ.” 

Months before he delivered that sermon, it was revealed to leaders at the West Lafayette church that children from multiple families had been abused and harassed by another minor within the congregation, according to internal church documents obtained by IndyStar. Olivetti and his fellow elders kept the abuse from church members for more than four months, even as they learned of additional transgressions.

The perpetrator, a teenage boy, is a relative of the pastor. Rather than immediately recuse himself, IndyStar found Olivetti continued to shape the church’s response, taking advantage of his position as a leader to interfere with the investigation.  

Furthermore, several people close to the situation told IndyStar they believe the other elders chose to publicly minimize the abuse and protect their pastor over the congregation’s children. 

“They did not care about us,” the mother in one victim’s family told IndyStar. 

The incidents occurred on and off church property between spring 2019 and March 2020, church records indicate. Parents told IndyStar the children reported over- and under-clothes touching, oral-genital contact, and penetration.

Olivetti and the members of the 2020 Immanuel elder board did not comment for this article.  

In a July 2020 meeting, Olivetti told the pastor of a neighboring church he and his elder board – referred to as the session – were going to hide the allegations from higher authorities in the denomination. While session notes would typically be shared with the Presbytery each year, notes pertaining to these incidents, Olivetti said, would not be. 

“We’re not sending a report up,” Olivetti said during the conversation, an audio recording of which was obtained by IndyStar. “It’s not going to be in our regular session minutes. It’s going to be in a different (record).” 

The children at the church are not the only known victims.  

An order entered in a Tippecanoe County juvenile court shows investigators identified as many as 15, although it’s unclear whether all eight church victims are reflected in that total and how many are from outside the congregation. The documents also present an inconsistent timeline of their abuse, saying at various points that the abuse ended in March or April 2020 and in another that the acts continued into January 2021.

In July of this year, the boy was found by a juvenile judge to be delinquent on what would be multiple felony counts of child molesting and was remanded to a residential facility. 

….

Documents and recordings obtained by IndyStar demonstrate a lack of urgency in notifying the congregation of the abuse, a failure to consistently enforce child safety measures and undue influence exerted by Olivetti.  

In one case, the elders knowingly failed to inform a family the boy had confessed to intentionally touching their child below the waist without their consent, according to internal church records. The child’s family didn’t learn of the incident until seven months after the boy’s admission. 

IndyStar has spoken to multiple people close to the situation – including multiple victim families – and reviewed court documents, official church reports and letters written in support of Olivetti and the elders by current congregants. 

Joshua Bright, a former deacon who resigned and left the church last December, told IndyStar the Immanuel session’s actions have skewed perceptions of the harm done. 

“Probably the biggest impact is spinning out a narrative that portrays (Olivetti) as a person who has been harmed and abused by what’s gone on in the church,” Bright said, “as opposed to (being) the person who has caused it.” 

….

Allegations of abusive behavior were brought to Olivetti in October 2019, according to the judicial commission report, when the boy was seen reaching down the back of a child’s pants, and again when he propositioned and touched the chest of another child. In both of those instances, the investigators were told the families involved worked through their issues privately.  

In April 2020, another family reported abuse. According to the judicial commission report, they attempted to work through the situation with Olivetti while also reporting to the Indiana Department of Child Services. 

Months later, in August 2020, the boy told elders he had inappropriate interactions with children in at least two other families, including a child he had intentionally touched below the waist — above their clothing — without their consent. 

Multiple sources, including the judicial commission report, indicate DCS was informed of and, in some cases, substantiated the allegations against the boy. However, it’s unknown when those reports were made in relation to their discovery — Indiana law requires immediate reporting to law enforcement or Child Services. A DCS spokeswoman declined to comment when reached by IndyStar, citing the state’s confidentiality laws. 

Joshua Greiner, a pastor at Faith Church West who that spring was providing biblical counseling to one of the Immanuel victim families, first learned of Olivetti’s connection to the perpetrator in late July 2020, around the time he began to encourage the family to return to their home church for ongoing care.

Following that disclosure by the family he was counseling, Greiner and Olivetti met to discuss how to move forward. 

IndyStar has obtained and reviewed Greiner’srecording of their nearly 90-minute conversation. It was during that meeting that Olivetti said the Presbytery wouldn’t immediately intervene, that only some session members were fully aware of the situation, and they would be keeping off-book notes regarding the investigation. 

….

During this time, while the congregation was being assured proper measures were being taken, some of the victim families struggled to make sense of the situation.  

The April 2020 case that had been reported to DCS was found to be unsubstantiated, according to the judicial commission report, despite both families acknowledging to one another the abuse had occurred. 

During his July 2020 conversation with Greiner, the Faith pastor, Olivetti said the case had been unsubstantiated because DCS was “satisfied” with the safety precautions taken. This is not how DCS defines substantiation, which determines whether a preponderance of evidence exists to support the allegations. (A second case was opened in December, after additional information was reported to the agency, and was substantiated, according to the report.) 

But even questioning Olivetti’s actions would have been frowned upon within the congregation, the mother in one victim family told IndyStar. 

“He was this, like, know-all,” she said, “or this sense of God.” 

In November, when one victim family approached leadership with concerns that youth group parents had not been informed of the situation, the session said they didn’t believe it was necessary to do so. 

“We simply cannot protect everybody from every conceivable physical danger,” they wrote, according to the judicial commission report. “If we are to believe the statistics, it is likely there are unknown abusers present at most church activities. The way to protect against these dangers is simply to be vigilant and teach kids about what is appropriate and inappropriate.” 

Also that month, according to the report, a victim family reached out to the elders to ensure a family that had recently left the church had been informed of the situation.

“I have not talked with them yet,” Pfeiffer told Blackwood in a Slack message, according to the report. “I’m still not clear why they’re pushing that so much. I’ll do it at some point.” 

The mother in one victim family said her family chose to leave the church after it was clear Olivetti and the elders were protecting themselves instead of the children. 

“When we go to church, we are supposed to feel safe,” she said, “and we didn’t feel safe anymore.” 

However, not all families involved felt the session acted inappropriately. The father in one family told IndyStar he believes the elders acted in good faith.

“Our family affirms the care and love and shepherding of our elders,” he wrote to IndyStar in an email. “We were treated with tenderness, care, compassion, love and respect.”

Furthermore, he believes the judicial commission report was not representative of his family’s experience and that their story is “being used to support a narrative that (they) do not agree with.”

“We grieve the events that occurred among minors in our church yet this sadness has been compounded by the accusations on the elders,” he wrote. He continued: “The people bringing these allegations have hijacked our story and are using it in ways that we don’t approve of and have not given consent to.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Michael O’Brien Accused of Sexually Molesting Boy

father michael o'brien

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 O’Brien, a former priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen, Colorado, was recently accused of sexually abusing a church boy over three hundred times. Currently, no criminal charges have been filed.

The Vail Daily reports:

A former Aspen Catholic priest not only sexually assaulted a local altar boy approximately 300 times in the early 2000s, he beat the boy when he declined to accede to his sexual demands, according to a civil lawsuit filed last week in Denver District Court.

The Rev. Michael O’Brien allegedly began abusing Keegan Callahan at age 7, soon after he moved to Aspen in the summer of 2004 with his devout Roman Catholic family, the lawsuit states. The abuse of Callahan, now 24 and serving a 14-year prison sentence for committing sex crimes against juveniles in Aspen, allegedly continued through 2008.

“If (Callahan) chose not to comply with O’Brien’s sexual demands, O’Brien would physically punish (Callahan) by hitting him in the torso, chest, and/or back,” according to the complaint, filed Dec. 22. “The egregious acts of sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse (Callahan) suffered resulted in … the developed false belief that rape and torture is normal.”

O’Brien served at St. Mary Catholic Church on Main Street in Aspen from 2002 to 2011, when he left for a six-month sabbatical to address health issues, the lawsuit says. He was later appointed pastor of a Catholic church in Julesburg, though he was placed on administrative leave in September when the Archdiocese of Denver was notified of the abuse allegations.

At that time, Vicar General Very Rev. Randy Dollins said O’Brien “resolutely denied these allegations” and that the archdiocese had not received any other similar allegations against him.

On Thursday, O’Brien’s Denver-based attorney echoed that statement.

“Father O’Brien denies the allegations made by Keegan Callahan in this complaint and will fight the allegations in court,” Kevin McGreevy said.

The Aspen Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Callahan’s allegations. Sgt. Rick Magnuson declined to comment Thursday on an open case.

….

Scott Eldredge, Callahan’s attorney, characterized the allegations as “horrific.”

“It was a repeated, horrific episode of abuse,” he said Thursday. “We’re looking forward to trial.”

….

The Callahan family regularly celebrated mass, received the sacraments and participated in church-related activities, according to the lawsuit. Callahan greatly admired and revered the Roman Catholic Church, served as altar boy for O’Brien and attended classes he supervised.

“The abuse by O’Brien began only a few months after (Callahan) and his family joined St. Mary’s,” the lawsuit states. “O’Brien continued to groom (Callahan) by normalizing sexual abuse and represented to (him) that engaging in these sexual acts was a way of showing God’s love.

“Between 2004 and 2008, (Callahan) was sexually abused by O’Brien at St. Mary’s on approximately 300 occasions.”

The abuse not only caused Callahan to believe rape and torture were normal, it caused him “severe emotional, physical and mental anguish,” and left him with a loss of faith in “any church or institution” and a loss of innocence, according to the complaint.

“Moreover, (Callahan) did not discover … that he was injured or that the cause of his injuries was due to the abuse he suffered until recently because of the profound psychological damage that occurred as a result of (O’Brien’s) actions,” the suit states. “The sexual exploitation and circumstances under which the multiple acts of abuse occurred caused (Callahan) to develop various psychological coping mechanisms, including self-blame, denial, repression, suppression and disassociation from his experiences.”

The suit accuses St. Mary and the Archdiocese of Denver of negligence in employing and retaining O’Brien, which caused Callahan lasting injuries.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Jodi Heckert Pledged to Protect His Daughter’s Virginity, Now in Prison For Child Molestation

jodi heckert and daughter
Photo by David Magnusson

Jodi Heckert and his daughter appeared in a June 14, 2014, Slate Magazine article titled “Striking Portraits of Fathers and the Daughters Whose Virginity They’ve Pledged to Protect.” (While Heckert’s daughter is now an adult, I have decided to not publish her name.) The story features the photography of David Magnusson. As a photographer, I found Magnusson’s work to be stunning (and creepily disturbing), but I do wonder, based on several of his quotes in the article, if Magnusson really understands the American purity culture. For those of us who were once a part of the patriarchy movement, David Magnusson’s photographs are reminders of the many girls who are smothered by their God-fearing, hymen-worshiping “protective” fathers. Heckert, pictured above with his 13-year-old daughter, is one such father. In August of 2015, Heckert was found guilty of attempted child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison.

jodi heckert inmate
jodi heckert prison record
jodi heckert prison record 2

Arizona Department of Corrections Inmate Search

Here’s what Ayperi Karabuda Ecer had to say about Magnusson’s photographs:

David Magnusson’s focus is not on the individuals, it is on the relationship. The strength, the tenderness, the domination, and all the contradictions springing from adult men seeking promises which will guide young girls’ intimate lives and their infinite need for love and protection.

Each shoot takes up to an hour. That is no longer a “moment”; it is a long time to maintain intensity. Yet some of the fathers and daughters spend the hour physically clinging to each other.

The light is what makes this project visually coherent. All photographs are organized to be shot an hour and a half before dawn. Yes, it is beautiful. Many of the fathers refer to light in their interviews. One of them quotes Psalm 40: “I was plucked from a miry pit and sat into a marvellous light”, another thinks that “as Christians we’re supposed to be the light in the world.”

David Magnusson’s lighting appeals to those who pose but its airy subtlety also adds a surreal tone which contrasts with the solid convictions of the photographed. The setting seems to be from a fairy tale but we are confused by the cast.

David Magnusson knows that what is missing in a frame is as important as what is present. As fathers and daughters intensely try to embody the presence of God, one wonders what fears and hopes lie behind their mutual determination? Who are the men that inspire such fright and such need for protection? What past scars do the fathers want to redeem? Will these girls ever be able to love anyone more than their own progenitor? How much do our own demons suggest interpretations?

Purity is a personal visual project that offers a stage for intense emotions and questions.

As with all images, these carry different meanings depending on where and by whom they will be viewed. Ideally they need to be accompanied by the interviews and a balanced introduction.

But as with so many other images they will also be encountered divorced from initial purpose and control in an unpredictable journey.

Purity is a project about contradictions, love and domination, beauty and fear, relying on the very singular complexities of the photographic process.

Please take the time to view Magnusson’s photographs, and when finished please let me know what you think in the comment section.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

UPDATED:Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Samuel Emerson Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Assault

samuel-and-madelaine-emerson

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, Samuel Emerson, pastor of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church in Surrey, British Columbia, and his wife Madelaine, were charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault.

The Surrey-Now Leader reported:

Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church pastor Samuel Emerson and his wife Madelaine Emerson have been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual touching and threats.

In a media release issued Tuesday afternoon, Surrey RCMP revealed that they received several allegations of sexual assault on May 17, 2017.

On May 18, the Emersons were arrested. Neither were known to police beforehand, and were later released under “strict conditions.”

Samuel Emerson, 34, has been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Madelaine Emerson, 37, has been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

The alleged assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017

….

Surrey RCMP have said the investigation is still ongoing, and they are asking that any potential victims come forward to speak with police, as they believe that there may have been other victims.

“Calling the police to report a sexual assault is a very difficult thing to do, especially when the suspect is someone you knew and trusted, and can leave lifelong emotional scars,” said RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann.

“Our highly-skilled investigators take sexual assaults very seriously, and, supported by our Surrey RCMP Victim Services workers, are here to listen and provide emotional support,” he said.

….

Samuel Emerson’s father, Randy, is the senior pastor of the church. On Facebook, the elder Emerson said:

If you know us and our church please pray. We are under attack like never before and we need the accuser of the saints to be silenced and Truth prevail.

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and expressing love at this time. You are making a difference. This is a time when we must not believe with our eyes and ears but with our spirits. Let God be true and every man a liar. Can’t be specific at this time but your prayers are making a difference. Thanks and much love, Randy.

The Kimberley Bulletin reported on October 13, 2017:

Just weeks after dozens of sexual assault charges were laid against one of its board members in a series of incidents in the Lower Mainland, Cowichan River Bible Camp has been alleged as the scene of other assaults.

Surrey pastor Samuel Emerson, who was a board member of the bible camp, has been charged with 25 criminal code offences related to at least five victims, including: 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Camp general director Gerald Wall confirmed this week the camp has cut ties with Samuel after police announced the charges earlier this month.

Samuel’s wife, Madelaine Emerson, 37, has also been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

Court documents show most of the offences are alleged to have taken place in Surrey, where until his arrest, Emerson was a pastor at the Cloverdale Christian Fellowship.

One alleged sexual assault, according to court documents, occurred in or near Cowichan Bay between July and August 2014.

Duncan resident Alexis Masur attended Cowichan River Bible Camp on River bottom Road for four years starting when she was 15. She alleges she, and others, were assaulted at the camp and at the affiliated Oasis church by an adult that was not Emerson.

“It started out with really long hugs, then their face would get closer to me and they would start giving me kisses on the cheek and then they’d start kissing me on the lips and then the next thing you know they’re caressing me to the point where they’re touching my genitals,” she explained.

She said she knew what they were doing was wrong but she felt powerless.

“They were a really well respected leader in the church and respected at the camp too,” she said. “This person was smart, they knew how to make me take blame. I was so afraid that if I said it out loud that I would never be loved again. This person had power, and if I said a peep, almost everyone I respected would turn on me in an instant.”

Masur is haunted by the youth she left behind.

“When I left that church, I ran, and I never looked back. But I always feel guilty because I know if I had stayed, and fought that I could prevented other people from having the same thing happen to them,” she said.

Masur’s allegations took Wall by surprise.

“This is news,” he said Tuesday morning. “I won’t respond to that right now. All I know is that we do have protocols in place for our staff and that this comes out of left field. I have no prior knowledge of this. Until we have some confirmation through the RCMP, I won’t respond any further.”

….

Masur has not reported her complaint to the RCMP.

On March 15, 2018, The Free Press reported:

Samuel and Madelaine Emerson have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including sexual assault, sexual touching a person under the age of 16, and threats to cause death and bodily harm, in court on Thursday (March 15).

Samuel Emerson, 34, was formerly a pastor of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church. In early October, Surrey RCMP announced that he had been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Madelaine Emerson, 37, was charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

….

In 2020, Emerson was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to two years in prison. His wife was found not guilty.

The Surrey-Now reported:

The former Cloverdale youth pastor who was convicted of sexual assault last year was sentenced this week to two years in jail.

Samuel Emerson received his sentence, which includes a 10-year firearm prohibition, Tuesday at Surrey Provincial Court.

Emerson, who grew up in the South Surrey and White Rock area, was found guilty last November on one charge of sexual assault, but not guilty on a majority of other charges that were laid two years prior, after young members of his congregation approached police.

His wife Madelaine, who was also charged in 2017, was found not guilty.

In finding Samuel Emerson guilty of one count of sexual assault in November, Judge Mark Jetté concluded that the complainant’s apparent consent to have sex with him was induced.

RCMP announced charges against the couple in October 2017. The following March, both accused entered pleas of not guilty. A trial, set for 12 days, got underway this past April in Surrey Provincial Court. It concluded Sept. 4.

Samuel Emerson was tried on five counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual interference of a person under 16.

The assaults were alleged to have happened between 2013 and 2017, at the Emerson family home and at the Cowichan River Bible Camp.

In finding the Emersons not guilty of the other charges, Jetté said reasonable doubt was raised by inconsistencies in some of the six complainants’ evidence; in finding Samuel Emerson guilty of the one count, the judge cited the former pastor’s “calculated effort” to distance himself from the complainant while testifying, including the accused’s insistence that he was never alone with her.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: Dr. David Smock Accused of Molesting Child at IFB Boarding School

dr david smock

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.

Dr. David Smock, the physician for Agape Boarding School in Stockton, Missouri, stands accused of sodomizing and molesting a fourteen-year-old boy. Other alleged sex crimes in other states are currently being investigated. Agape Boarding school is a “ministry” of Agape Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution. Agape Baptist is pastored by James Clemensen. (Please read the school’s Parent Handbook. Be prepared to weep.)

The Kansas City Star reports:

Longtime Agape Boarding School doctor David Smock groomed the young male student he is accused of sodomizing and molesting, buying him a cellphone, taking his family on trips and throwing him birthday parties, according to court records obtained by The Star. Those details, including child sex allegations against Smock from two other states that go back decades, are outlined in a probable cause statement The Star received Monday. The affidavit describes three felonies filed by Greene County prosecutors on Thursday, the same day a judge signed an arrest warrant for the 57-year-old doctor.

Authorities confirmed to The Star that Smock was still at large Monday afternoon. “For years, David E. Smock groomed Juvenile by inviting him over to his (Smock) home located in Jerico Springs where he could play video games, use the gym and basketball court, purchasing a cell phone for him, providing gifts, money, and promised cars once he turned 16 years of age,” the affidavit says.

Smock also “took Juvenile and his family on outings to arcades, trips to places such as Silver Dollar City and Incredible Pizza and hosted birthday parties for Juvenile,” the document says.

According to the affidavit, Smock provided medical treatment — including physicals — for the students. The boy and his mother began having contact with Smock in 2013-2014, it says. Her son first met Smock during a gym night. The investigation began on Oct. 7, 2020, when Heidi Fox, an investigator with the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team, received a request from an investigator with the Missouri Department of Social Services’ Children’s Division regarding a child molestation case reported to the Cedar County Sheriff. The case involved a 14-year-old male who disclosed to the Children’s Division in 2020 “that he was touched inappropriately when he was thirteen years of age by a fifty six year old white male identified as David E. Smock,” the affidavit says.

Cedar County Sheriff James “Jimbob” McCrary did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Agape leader Bryan Clemensen also has not responded to requests for comment. Smock began spending more time with the boy to be a “father figure” to him, according to the affidavit, and then began taking him to and from school. He threw birthday parties for the boy’s 12th, 13th and 14th birthdays and eventually convinced the boy’s mother to allow her son to move into Smock’s home. The boy lived with Smock, the affidavit says, from age 13 until just before his 15th birthday. When the boy was 13 and in Smock’s care, the doctor took him from Cedar County to Springfield to help clean a rental property Smock owned, the document says. “Juvenile disclosed while at this location, he was instructed by David E. Smock to pull his own pants down, when Juvenile did not, David E. Smock instructed him to pull his pants down two additional times,” according to the affidavit. “David E. Smock touched Juvenile’s penis with his hand and held Juvenile’s penis with his hand.” Smock was charged Thursday in Greene County Circuit Court with three felonies — one count of second-degree statutory sodomy regarding a child; third-degree molestation of a child younger than 14 years of age; and enticement or attempted enticement of a child younger than 15.

….

As a physician, Smock is required by law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Smock came to Missouri from Arizona and in 2006 built an 11-bedroom mansion with an indoor pool and gymnasium in rural Cedar County between Stockton and Jerico Springs. That location at 6360 E. 1570 Road, which Smock uses as his home and business addresses, also houses Legacy Academy Adventures, a Christian boarding school for boys ages 9-15. Legacy is run by Brent Jackson, who has close ties to Smock and was an Agape staffer for 18 years, part of that time serving as its dean of students. Jackson left Agape in 2018. According to the probable cause statement obtained Monday, while interviewing people about the Missouri allegations, the state investigator said she received police reports about Smock from California and Arizona dating back to the late 1980s.

In a June 6, 2007, document from Gonzales, California, police interviewed Smock regarding a child cruelty case. At that time, Smock told authorities that he and his six children — some of them adopted — slept in the same room but he slept in his bed alone. The report also indicated there was an empty second bedroom and that an adult female and her young children were staying in a third bedroom, the probable cause affidavit says. “The adult female had ended a relationship with David E. Smock previously due to David E. Smock’s ‘controlling behaviors,’” the affidavit says. “And at the time of this report (she) was an employee at his clinic. She reported being fearful of David E. Smock and that she may lose her job, as she was informed by David E. Smock if any of his employees speak to the police, he would terminate their employment. “One of the juveniles provided information to the police regarding the sleeping arrangements of the children, specifically David E. Smock sleeping in bed with one of the juvenile boys aged fifteen years old.” At the time of the police report in 2007, Smock was a licensed physician and surgeon in California.

The Gonzales, California, Police Department also discovered four more reports about Smock. Those reports were made to other law enforcement and state agencies regarding sexually inappropriate behavior with children under 16, the affidavit says. Gonzales officers discovered that a report was made to the San Diego Police Department in 1988 regarding David E. Smock being identified as a suspect in a child molestation investigation. Details of that case were not included in the Greene County affidavit obtained Monday. In another case discovered by California authorities, the Marine Family Advocacy in Yuma, Arizona, told Gonzales police about a 1997 report that two juvenile males alleged Smock walked around the house nude in front of them during a visit to his residence in 1994-1995. The report said Smock showered with the two juvenile boys in 1996. The Gonzales officer contacted Yuma, Arizona, Child Protective Services and was informed of a report made in 1998 alleging Smock altered the use of the hot water heater and stove in a home he owned that was being occupied by his estranged wife. “The report documents David E. Smock made comments regarding selling his daughters because he only wanted to keep the juvenile son,” according to the Greene County affidavit. “The male child was interviewed and stated he sleeps in a bed with David E. Smock.”

A 1996 case out of the police department in Yuma, said that two 12-year-old boys and their mother reported Smock for “sexually inappropriate behavior.” It said Smock was their neighbor and had purchased several expensive items for the boys and provided “vitamins” for them to take. “The two juvenile boys reported to the Police Department that while spending the night at David E. Smock’s residence, he informed them they can sleep naked and offered to give one of the juvenile boys a ‘physical,’” the Greene County affidavit says. “The mother of the two juveniles reported to the police that she observes several children at David E. Smock’s residence because he has a pool.” That mother said tarps had been placed over the fence tops surrounding Smock’s back yard in Arizona. “When David E. Smock was interviewed by the Police,” the affidavit says, “he is reported to have stated he tried to tell the mother of the boys ‘that he really loved children.’”

In September 2021, five workers at Agape Boarding School were accused of assault.

KY-3 reported:

The Cedar County prosecutor filed charges against several workers of the Agape boarding school near Stockton after accusations of abuse.

In all, five faces charges. They include:

-Seth Duncan: 5 counts of third-degree assault

-Scott Dumar: 4 counts of third-degree assault

-Trent Hartman: 2 counts of third-degree assault

-Christopher McElroy: 1 count of third-degree assault

-Everett Graves: 1 count of third-degree assault

Former students accuse workers of the school of assault and other abuse. Former student Colton Schrag says he’s disheartened to see only five people charged in this investigation.

“The message should’ve been we hear you, we’re gonna try to protect you and help you get out of this situation and then we’re gonna shut it down,” Schrag says. “But the message we received was we’ll do the bare minimum to get you off our backs but we don’t actually really care about you guys.”

Operators advertise Agape as a national boarding school for at-risk or unmotivated boys. The campus is also home to Agape Baptist Church. When it comes to troubled teenage boys, Schrag says they’re often overlooked and people may not be as open to hearing their stories.

”If I was to speak out at that time like I did, ‘Hey they’re beating on us,’ it kind of just fell on deaf ears,” Schrag says. “You automatically think like what did that kid do. He’s there for a reason he’s not a good kid.”

Schrag spent three-and-a-half years at Agape. During his time there, Schrag says students endured physical, mental, and psychological abuse.

“From getting drug out of your bunk into the hallway with staff members elbowing you, hitting you, kneeing you, and slamming you onto the ground,” Schrag says. “Even also some of them withholding meals from you or putting you on a small portion so you can’t eat like the rest of the students.”

Boyd and Stephanie Householder face 100 criminal abuse charges as the owners of the Circle of Hope Ranch. Their daughter, Amanda Householder, says the couple worked at Agape before opening their school.

“My dad learned at Agape how to restrain the students, how to withhold their food, their water,” Householder says. “Basically, Agape is the blueprint for Circle of Hope.”

The Missouri Attorney General’s office identified 65 criminal counts against 22 co-defendants. Those charges included abuse of a child, failure to report child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child, tampering with a victim, and assault. However, the Cedar County prosecutor charged five defendants with multiple counts of assault.

“It’s not even a slap on the wrist for Agape,” Householder says. “It’s a slap in the face for the victims of Agape.”

The Missouri Highway Patrol says it began its investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect at the facility in late February.

According to Householder, some of the people charged were former students at Agape.

“They were just doing what they were brainwashed to do from childhood,” Householder says. “They were students and then they turned staff. It’s very angering to me that the people who forced the people to act the way they’re acting are not being charged.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Muslim Tutor Muhammad Hasan Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Two Girls

muhammad hasan

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 2018, Muhammad Hasan, a Muslim business owner who offered private Quran instruction, was accused of sexually abusing two female students.

The Oregonian reported at the time:

Investigators have arrested a man who’s accused of abusing two girls who were clients of his religious instruction business, Tigard police say.

Muhammad L. Hasan ran AICQ (American Islamic Center for the Holy Quran), a Tigard business that offered private Quran instruction, the city’s police department said in a news release. He was indicted last week and arrested Wednesday.

Hasan’s indictment lists six counts of first-degree sex abuse and a single count of third-degree sex abuse. He’s accused of kissing one of the girls on multiple occasions and touching another’s breast or breasts, according to the document.

In January 2019, Hasan pleaded guilty to two child sex abuse charges involving two girls who were his students. One was 17 years old, the other was 9 years old. Hasan was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

KGW-8 reported:

A man who taught children about the Quran at his private business in Tigard is going to prison for four years after pleading guilty to sex abuse charges.

Last month, Muhammad Hasan pleaded guilty to two child sex abuse charges involving two girls who were his students. One was 17 years old, the other was 9 years old.

Megan Johnson, senior deputy district attorney for Washington County, said the 17-year-old felt “shocked, confused, guilty, stuck, and frozen” during the abuse. Before the investigation, the two girls did not know about what was happening to the other. Both studied Quran memorization with Hasan for a year or two at his business, the American Islamic Center for the Holy Quran (AICQ). The abuse occurred in Hasan’s office in 2016.

Tigard police heard about the incidents involving both girls around the same time in 2017 and began investigating.

Johnson said through the course of the investigation, detectives found similar reports against Hasan in Vancouver, Washington. Detectives were met with road blocks. The situation had been handled within the community. Hasan was no longer teaching in the Vancouver Muslim community, and it seemed no one wanted to officially go on the record to make a report.

Now, investigators are worried that there could be more victims.

Johnson said this particular child sex abuse case is the most difficult one she, her office, and the Tigard Police Department have encountered. People have been hesitant to speak out about such a well-loved person.

But on Friday, Judge Theodore Sims handed down Hasan’s sentence: four years in prison. He is now a registered sex offender for life. Hasan is not allowed to have contact with any minors, with the exception of his 16-year-old daughter.

Throughout his sentencing, Hasan sat stoic with an interpreter beside him.

“This is a sad case for so, so, many reasons,” said Johnson as she began speaking in court.

“The pain [the victims] have suffered at his hands is remarkable,” she said.

The pain is from both the abuse, but also the violation of trust. Hasan was adored and trusted in the community.

“That enabled you to victimize some kids and got you into a position of trust in the community, which you violated,” said Judge Sims told Hasan.

Hasan’s lawyer, in court, asked the judge to factor in the good he has done in the community in trying to bridge the gap between Muslims and people of different faiths. Hasan briefly spoke through his interpreter.

He said he would make his best effort to be a good citizen and serve the community when he is released from jail. Hasan touched on his religious goals, that people of different faiths live in harmony.

He also requested that he serve out his time in the Washington County Jail, and if he had to go to prison, he wanted to have his own cell.

Johnson said it’s unlikely he’ll get what he wants. At no time did Hasan apologize.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Javyon George-Boatman Convicted of Sexual Misconduct With a Minor

busted

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, Javyon George-Boatman, who may or may not have been a youth worker at Family Christian Center in Munster, Indiana, was arrested Wednesday and charged with  “three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor.”

Times reporters Steve Garrison and Lauren Cross had this to say about George-Boatman’s arrest:

A 22-year-old man who previously attended Family Christian Center in Munster is accused of having sex at the church with a 14-year-old girl.
Javyon M. George-Boatman was charged Wednesday in Lake Criminal Court with three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, according to court records.
Court records listed George-Boatman as a youth leader at the church, but John Ponder, the pastor of Christian Education and Pastoral Care, told The Times on Thursday that George-Boatman is not a youth leader, nor did he serve the church in any official capacity.

The church barred George-Boatman from accessing church property immediately after learning of the allegations, Ponder said.

The girl told police in an interview June 26 that she first met the defendant during music practice at Family Christian Center, according to a probable cause affidavit.
She said George-Boatman kissed her on Palm Sunday at the church, and the physical contact escalated until she agreed to have sex with him in a church closet on April 23, the affidavit states.

She said they had sex at least 10 more times at the church between April 23 and June 7, the affidavit states.

The church’s pastor, Steve Munsey, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ponder said the victim confided in a church elder, who encouraged the girl to tell her father. The female elder supported the girl’s decision and volunteered to accompany her, Ponder said. The father then contacted police, Ponder said.

“We’re very fastidious about such things. We find this abhorrent, immoral and against the law and totally intolerable,” Ponder said, noting the church conducts background checks before anyone can serve in an official capacity.

In 2019, Boatman was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser