Tag Archive: Sexual Abuse

Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Robert Ross Accused of Covering Up Child Abuse

robert ross steven winn larry winn

Pastor Robert Ross, Steven Winn, and Larry Winn. The church that preys together stays together.

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 February, I posted a story about Steven Winn’s arrest on sex crime charges. In March, I posted a story about Steve Winn’s father, Larry, being arrested on similar charges. Today, their pastor, Robert Ross, has been arrested on charges that he failed to make a child abuse report. Ross is mandatory reporter, yet he did nothing. I have long argued that pastors — if they know about child abuse or a sex crime and don’t report it — should be arrested and prosecuted for failing to report. As long as there is nu punishment for their crimes, pastors will continue to sweep child abuse and sexual assault allegations under the proverbial rug.

According to the report that follows, Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist institution — has had at least four members accused of sexual abuse in its fifty-year history.

Sarah Smith, a reporter for The Star Telegram, writes:

The pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist church with two members already facing sex abuse charges was arrested Tuesday on charges that he failed to make a required child abuse report.

Robert A. Ross, the pastor of Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, is in the Mesquite jail. Bond has been set at $2,500. The police have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite has had four members accused of sexual abuse in its 50-year history. Members and ex-members say a strict culture that reveres church authorities as nearly unquestionable has led to an environment conducive to ongoing abuse.

A tipster reported the most recent allegations to Mesquite police in late February. They involved a father-son pair described as belonging to a family deeply involved in the church.

Police arrested Steven Winn, 33, who volunteered with Open Door’s youth ministry, and charged him with three counts of sexual assault of a child on Feb. 22. Larry Winn, his father and the church’s 65-year-old bus minister, was arrested a few days later and charged with sexual assault of a child. The cases involve different victims.

In 2011, the church’s then-pastor, Matt Jarrell, committed suicide in a West Virginia jail cell, where he was being held on rape charges. He had a history of sexual assault arrests, at least one of which was known to the church’s assistant pastor, per news reports at the time.

Back in 1988, Donald Lewis — another bus minister — pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child. He died while on probation. One of Lewis’ victims claims that the church’s pastor, Sylvester Matthews, knew of the abuse before his arrest.

….

Steven Winn is accused of having a 14-month sexual relationship with a minor that began when the girl was 15 and a student at the church’s school, Mesquite Bible Academy. Winn volunteered with the church’s youth ministry.

Several congregants said they were long concerned about what they say looked like an obviously inappropriate relationship between a 33-year-old man in power and a teenager.

One former member put it like this: “Anyone with two eyes and an Instagram account could have seen that things didn’t look right.”

The girl, who is still a minor and isn’t being identified by the Star-Telegram, posted pictures of herself and Winn on her page, which the Star-Telegram reviewed. The two sat close — much closer than Open Door usually allows even dating couples —and were spending an excessive amount of time together, said the former member.

….

“I talked to her a couple times on my phone,” another member said. “I was like ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be calling this guy your daddy, he’s just some guy at church.’ And she’s like, ‘You know, it’s none of your business.’ ”

He said he discussed it with friends but ultimately chose not to bring it up to anyone else.

“When you’re in the church, you believe that the pastors are the authorities,” he said. “They know what’s going on. So you would just automatically figure, it’s probably not right that they’re doing that, but I don’t think there’s anything super wrong going on, you know?”

The girl did not respond to a request for comment. The girl’s mother, reached by phone, declined to comment.

After Steven Winn’s arrest, Ross, the pastor, called a members’ meeting, longtime member Austin Guthrie said. Ross gave no details beyond the charges and said that Steven Winn had turned himself into police.

Lt. Brian Parrish, the Mesquite Police Department’s public relations officer, said Steven Winn and his father voluntarily surrendered to police. However, he said, Steven Winn did not come forward and confess of his own accord. Police received a tip on Feb. 18 — four days before Winn’s arrest. The tipster did not know the extent of the assaults, but was concerned about the relationship.

The same tipster who contacted police about Steven Winn spoke to police about Larry Winn, the bus minister for Open Door, in charge of the fleet of school buses painted with the church logo that shepherds children to and from services. When police contacted the alleged victim, she told them that Larry Winn had assaulted her three years ago, when she was 16.

….

The accusations against Larry Winn are similar to those in a case involving Sherry May Sims in the 1980s.

Sims is 46 now, but when she was 12, an Open Door bus minister raped her. The assaults went on for four years, from 1984 to 1988, she said.

Donald Lewis was the bus driver. Lori Clark, who attended Open Door at the time, remembered Lewis as heavyset and graying, always in a suit. Kids nicknamed him the “Candy Man” for the brown paper bag of hard candy he carried.

A different victim, also a minor female, reported Lewis to the Mesquite police in 1988. When the news about Lewis broke, Sims’ parents asked her if anything happened. She said she told them the truth. On May 18, 1988, Sims told her story to the Mesquite police. Later, she told it to a grand jury.

She said she never thought to report it herself.

“He was an authority figure and you didn’t say anything bad about authority figures,” Sims said.

Donald Lewis pleaded guilty. He died while on probation in 1994.

When Sims told her parents what happened, her father met with the pastor, Matthews. Her father, who died last year, told Sims that Matthews said there had been other allegations made to him prior to Lewis’ arrest. Nothing was done.

Matthews is still employed at Open Door. He serves as a senior pastor and a math teacher at Open Door’s school.

….

You can read the entire sordid story here.

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

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

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

The Brantford Expositor reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also is in poor health, the board notes.

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

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

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

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

….

In July 2017, the Brantford Expositor reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

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

….

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

In 2012, the Brantford Expositor reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assistant Crown attorney Patricia Vadacchino argued for custody.

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

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

….

Black Collar Crime: Youth Minister Chad Coe Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Teen Girl

chad coe

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.

Chad Coe, a youth minister with First Congregational Church in West Dundee, Illinois, pleaded guilty today and was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing a teen girl.

The Daily Herald reports:

A former West Dundee church youth group director was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday after admitting to sexually abusing a teen girl in spring and summer 2013.

Chad A. Coe, 36, of the 7100 block of Bannockburn Circle, faced up to 15 years if convicted of the most severe charge of criminal sexual assault and his jury trial was scheduled for this week.

Kane County Judge James Hallock accepted Coe’s plea, in which prosecutors dismissed the most serious charges, such as criminal sexual assault.

Coe received the maximum sentence of seven years for aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

His plea was unexpected; prosecutors were prepared for a weeklong trial and jury selection was to begin Monday morning.

“I hope this finally gets the family some closure after five years,” said Deb Bree, executive director of the Kane County Child Advocacy Center, which investigates crimes against children on behalf of the state’s attorney’s office. “I’m pleased the victim will not have to take the (witness) stand and recount the horror she faced by someone she trusted so much.”

Coe, a former youth group leader at First Congregational Church of Dundee, was fired shortly after his arrest in July 2013.

He also was charged with possession of child pornography in late 2013, but prosecutors later dropped those charges.

He had been free on bond since his arrest; deputies took him away in handcuffs after his guilty plea.

Coe was accused of grooming the victim, a Sleepy Hollow girl, when she was 14 and then sexually assaulting her at 15 in the church basement.

Defense attorney Brittany Pedersen declined to comment.

Under state law, Coe can have his sentence cut in half for good behavior.

He also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after his prison release and is to have no contact with the victim.

The victim and her family sued Coe, the church, the United Church of Christ, and the General Synod and Illinois Conference of the UCC for damages.

The victim argued the church was negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Coe.

All the defendants except Coe were removed by a trial court ruling, but an appellate court last October reversed that decision and sent the lawsuit back to Kane County.

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Frank Lenz Accused of Sexual Misconduct

frank lenz

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.

Frank Lenz, a retired Catholic priest, stands accused of sexual misconduct.

UpNorthLive reports:

A northern Michigan priest is on administrative leave after allegations of sexual misconduct.

According to the Diocese of Marquette, Father Frank M. Lenz, a senior (retired) priest with the Diocese is being accused of sexual misconduct with a minor dating back to the 1970s.

Records show Father Lenz has denied the allegation.

The Diocese said Father Lenz has been removed from all public priestly ministry and prohibited from presenting himself as a priest in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The Diocese said this is not a final determination of guilt. Administrative leave is a precautionary measure while a credible allegation is being investigated.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church, I offer a sincere apology to all victims of clergy abuse,” said Bishop Doerfler. “There is no excuse for what happened to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I am willing to journey with you to find Christ’s peace and healing.”

Bishop Doerfler encourages anyone who may have suffered sexual misconduct by clergy, a church worker or volunteer to come forward to receive pastoral care leading toward healing. [ Yes, right after you report your allegations to law enforcement.]

….

WNMU-FM adds:

The action against Father Frank Lenz was taken because of a recently-made credible allegation of misconduct with a minor in the 1970s. Lenz has denied the claim.

The allegation has been reported to law enforcement and the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office. Lenz has been removed from all public priestly ministry and prohibited from presenting himself as a priest, in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The diocese says administrative leave is a precautionary measure while a credible allegation is being investigated.

Lenz was ordained in June of 1969 and retired to Senior Priest status in 2007.

Diocese Bishop John Doerfler responded by saying, “On behalf of the Catholic Church, I offer a sincere apology to all victims of clergy abuse. There is no excuse for what happened to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I am willing to journey with you to find Christ’s peace and healing.” [Sorry Bishop, but if you have been paying attention of late, offers of thoughts and prayers no longer suffice.]

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Black Collar Crime: Church of Christ Preacher James Marcus Pleads Guilty to Sexual Battery Charge

james marcus

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.

James Marcus, pastor of Fairview Church of Christ in Milan, Tennessee, pleaded guilty this week to one count of aggravated sexual battery. Marcus was sentenced to eight years in prison for his crime.

WBBJ-7 reports:

A former pastor at a Gibson County church pleaded guilty this week to aggravated sexual battery of a child.

Court documents show James Marcus, 72, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual battery of a child younger than 13 years old. As part of the plea agreement, Marcus will serve eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction and must register as a sex offender for life.

Marcus entered the plea Monday, according to court documents.

Marcus served as a pastor at Fairview Church of Christ north of Milan.

He was arrested on the charges in May 2016 and admitted to investigators that he inappropriately touched a child over the course of four years until the victim was 10 years old, according to the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Children’s Pastor William “Wes” Williamson Accused of Sex Crimes

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

William “Wes” Williamson, children’s pastor at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Dothan, Alabama, stands accused of sexually abusing children under the age of twelve. Williamson’s name has already been removed from the church’s website. I just love the senior pastor’s statement, “This will not be a distraction—that’s what the Devil wants. God is sovereign and will seek his Glory.” Buddy, if this is not a distraction there’s something wrong with you, God or no God.

WTVY-4 reports:

A former Mount Gilead Baptist Church children’s pastor faces three charges of sexually abusing children under the age of 12. William Wesley “Wes” Williamson was arrested Thursday.

Mount Gilead Senior Pastor Bradley Rushing said he was made aware of allegations involving Williamson several weeks ago. They were reported to authorities though they didn’t apparently involve sexual relations. He can’t speak to the investigation.

Williamson was placed on administrative leave. “He had zero contact with children from that point forward,” Rushing said. Williamson was terminated following his arrest Thursday.

Court records show there are two alleged victims.

“Mr. Williamson did not commit a crime. He did nothing that was illegal,” said defense attorney Thomas Smith. He and Co-counsel Shaun McGhee represent Williamson.

Smith continued, “Frankly we’re amazed that he was charged. Based upon what we know it’s hard to believe somebody can be charged with sexual abuse.”

He said the damage to his client is done even if he’s found not guilty. “This is a married man with seven children. He’s charged on the slimmest and most vague allegations I’ve ever seen. It’s ruined him.”

….

Rushing said while the charges against Williamson are disturbing though he has no knowledge they’re factual. “This will not be a distraction—that’s what the Devil wants. God is sovereign and will seek his Glory.”

….

The Dothan Eagle reports:

A status hearing has been scheduled for a former children’s minister charged with three counts of sex abuse of a child less than 12 years old.

William Wesley Williamson will go before Houston County Judge Benjamin Lewis May 1 at 9 a.m.

During the status hearing, Lewis will inform Williamson of his rights and the charges filed against him. Williamson will have the opportunity to request an attorney be appointed to represent him, or he will inform Lewis he has obtained an attorney.

….

A May 1, 2018 Dothan Eagle report states:

A former children’s minister accused of sexual abuse against a child will not attend his preliminary hearing Friday.

William Wesley Williamson, 38, was arrested March 30 and charged with three counts of sex abuse of a child less than 12 years old. He served as the former pastor to children at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church on Brannon Stand Road.

Williamson’s attorney, Thomas Smith, said he does not feel it is necessary for his client to attend his preliminary hearing. Smith filed a motion earlier asking his clients’ presence be waived.

The preliminary hearing will determine if there is enough evidence to send Williamson’s case to a grand jury or to see if the charges will be dropped.

“This man is a father of seven children; four of those children are special needs children,” Smith said. “He is a poster man for being a caregiver to children, and he faces these charges.”

From Smith’s understanding, information listed on the warrant states Williamson brushed his hand against the clothing in the genital area of the victims, but no specific sex act is alleged.

During an April 4 press conference, Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza stated two additional allegations emerged against Williamson following his arrest. No additional charges have been filed against Williamson.

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Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Matthew “Denny” Patterson Accused of Sex Crimes Against Boys

pastor denny patterson

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.

Matthew “Denny” Patterson, pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. Most of the victims were young boys. Patterson was known in the area for his anti-LGBTQ crusading.  With rapture-like speed, church leaders have scrubbed Patterson’s name from the Nolensville Road Baptist website. One news report states Patterson resigned from Nolensville Road Baptist last September and moved to Pennsylvania. He was arrested in Pennsylvania on March 8, 2018 and has since been extradited to Tennessee.

Adam Tamburin, a reporter for The Tennessean, writes:

Metro police have arrested a pastor accused of molesting several children across two decades while he was leader of a South Nashville congregation.

Matthew Dennis Patterson, known as Denny, served as pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church for more than 20 years. He resigned on Sept. 24.

Days later, members of the congregation came to the police precinct on Harding Place with complaints about his requests to “engage in strange activities” with children, authorities said.

Children at the church told adult members that Patterson had asked them to sit on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear, according to a police statement.

Detectives John Thomas and Jacob Masteller from the department’s Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Unit led the six-month investigation into the complaints.

After interviewing multiple church and staff members, police said the detectives identified multiple victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998-2017. Police did not say how old the children were at the time of the alleged abuse.

Patterson has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. Each count is linked to a different child, according to police.

Police said more charges relating to additional victims “are anticipated” as the investigation continues.

Nashville police arrested Patterson in Pennsylvania on March 8 — he refused to talk to investigators. Patterson was extradited to Nashville on Friday, and his bond was set at $100,000.

Leaders at Nolensville Road Baptist have been “fully cooperative” with the investigation, according to police.

….

The church appeared to be growing — they bought a second house on an adjoining lot in March 2017 for $150,000, property records show. Patterson touted the purchase as a long-held dream on his Twitter account.

It is an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. In the church’s statement of faith, it cites the Bible as the only authority for faith and practice, belief in the sinful nature of man, biblical family roles and local church autonomy.

Patterson was a vocal opponent of anti-discrimination bills considered by the Metro Council in 2003. The measures were designed to protect jobs and housing for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

“We want to make sure we keep the pressure on, let them know that anytime they bring this up, we’ll be down here to oppose it,” Patterson told The Tennessean in an article published Feb. 5, 2003.

Mention of Patterson was scrubbed from the church’s website after he left the church last year. But an archived version of nolensvilleroadbaptist.com includes a message from the former pastor welcoming visitors to Sunday and Wednesday services.

In the message, Patterson describes the church as “warm” and “friendly” and tells visitors to expect “soul-stirring music and Bible preaching.”

….

The church’s website describes the church this way:

Thank you for visiting our website. We have tried to make this site as simple and friendly as possible. It is our desire to provide you with information about our church, as well as material that will be a blessing to you spiritually. We are an independent, fundamental, Baptist church. We use soul-stirring traditional music and the focal point in our services is the preaching of God’s Word. We use only the King James Version.

The church’s website has a message for visitors from Patterson (via The Wayback Machine):

As Pastor I want to take this opportunity to invite you to our church. We have a warm, friendly church, and you will feel more than welcome. We are always excited to see guests in our services.

We are a church that believes God is alive and Christ can still save those who turn to Him for salvation. At our church, Christ is the answer for every one of the problems of man [including molesting young boys?]. God stands with His hand stretched out to all people, and so does our church.

You will find soul-stirring music and Bible preaching in each of our services. On behalf of all our people, please accept my invitation to attend our services. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Pastor Denny Patterson
Psalm 19:14

The church’s about page states:

STILL CHURCH

Timeless or trendy? Malls are trendy. Church should feel timeless. With the forceful current of constant change sweeping over every part of our lives, people have the need to connect with something enduring and firm. We believe Christ designed the church to fulfill that need by representing an eternal kingdom and ageless truth with no need to imitate the culture. We want you to know there’s still a church that feels like church. It won’t feel like a rock concert, comedy club, or motivational seminar. It’s not old-fashioned as in 50 years ago. It’s timeless, as in 2000 years ago.

STILL PREACHING

Dynamic, passionate preaching straight from the Bible still brings more lasting change than comedy routines, drama, or motivational talks. Come discover the benefit of Biblical preaching.

STILL HYMNS

Most church music amounts to dumbing down the lyrics and cranking up the volume to build more interest. The hymns we sing still generate an attitude toward God that is anything but lifeless and boring.

STILL REVERENT

Casual is all the rage in American institutions, but God deserves better. While you won’t find a judgmental spirit here, you will find a place that still believes reverence is right for the presence of God.

STILL FAMILY

Our culture’s experiments with the family have left the American home in a mess. We still teach the biblical roles for the family as the best answer and our only hope for stable, unfulfilled homes.

STILL EXCITING

God doesn’t need the Top 40 or the latest fads to be exciting. We still enjoy several timeless practices that stir the soul in a way that strobe lights and dancing in the aisles can never manufacture.

Nolensville Road Baptist Church is an Independent, Fundamental, Baptist church located in Nashville, TN. Our church is easily accessible from anywhere in the greater Nashville area. Our church facilities are located on the South side of Nashville, and we are close to I-24, I-65, and I-40.

And yet for all these “still” statements, the church “still” had a predatory child molester in its midst.

A Channel 5 news report adds:

The indictments stated one of the victims was abused over a six year period.

Another indictment said that between April 6, 2007 and April 6, 2013, Patterson “did intentionally engage in unlawful sexual contact with N.B. (d.o.b. 04-06-2002).”

Officials with the Metro Nashville Police Department said he molested at least eight children over the course of more than 20 years as pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in south Nashville.

Patterson reportedly resigned on September 24, 2017 and moved to Pennsylvania.

Church members learned of the allegations the following day, according to a statement, and reported it to police after speaking with Patterson and obtaining his cell phone and laptop to give to detectives.

A mother of three, who had attended the church on and off for two years, said she did not suspect Patterson of being an alleged molester.

“I didn’t at first but when I look back at it, it kind of makes sense after watching some of the behavior and movements toward certain people now,” said the mother who chose not to reveal her identity.

She added that Patterson event attended her three-year-old daughter’s birthday once, although she does not believe she was abused.

“I can’t really talk to a three-year-old about it because they don’t understand what’s going on. You get scared wondering if it was your child,” she said.

Church members came to the South Precinct to report that children were saying Patterson had them engage in strange activities with him, including sitting on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear.

The church spokesperson said in a statement, “Nolensville Road Baptist Church want to let our community know that the sinful actions of one man does not reflect upon church as a whole. We remain committed to truth, transparency in all our operations, and for the care and support for the victims and family who have been victimized by alleged perpetrator.”

….

An April 5, 2018 Times Free Press story states:

A former Tennessee pastor accused of molesting several children while he was a Nashville church leader has pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance.

The Tennessean reports a public defender accepted the case against Matthew Dennis Patterson and entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Wednesday.

….

Police say investigators identified at least eight victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998 to 2017.

Patterson has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. More charges related to additional victims are expected.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jeff Rolen Accused of Sex Crimes Against a Child

jeff rolen

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.

Jeff Rolen, pastor of Highlands Fellowship in Wise, Virginia, was arrested today of accusations of sex crimes against a child. Highland wasted no time in scrubbing Rolen from its existence.

WJHL-11 reports:

The former pastor of an area church. accused of sex crimes against a child, is being held without bond in Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield, VA.

Jeff Rolen, campus pastor of Highlands Fellowship in Wise, VA is charged with 10 counts of indecent liberties with a child. The alleged incidents occurred more than 30 years ago.

investigators say the alleged incidents took place between January 1985 and end of December 1987.

According to indictments obtained by News Channel 11,  if convicted Rolen faces a maximum of 5 years behind bars on each count. News Channel 11 obtained a letter sent to members of Highlands Fellowship.

It said part, “We are saddened to share Jeff Rolen, campus pastor at Wise, VA has been arrested, late yesterday. We learned of his arrest and charges regarding inappropriate relations with a minor prior to his employment with Highlands Fellowship.”

….

Highlands Fellowship released the following statement:

We are saddened to share that Jeff Rolen, Campus Pastor at Wise, Virginia has been arrested. Late yesterday, we learned of his arrest and charges regarding inappropriate relations with a minor prior to his employment with Highlands Fellowship.

Preemployment background checks did not reveal any issues.
The Church only has limited information about the situation at this time. However, given the seriousness of the allegations, we have released Mr. Rolen from his position here at Highlands. We are also leaving Camp Bethel as a church site.

We ask you to pray for all those affected by this situation, the Wise Community, and our church family. Please refrain from gossip so we do not cause further harm to anyone involved.  As followers of Christ, we must trust God to provide guidance and healing to move forward.

We will have Easter service this Sunday for our Wise Campus at the Inn at Wise at 11 am.  Mark Estepp will speak live with acoustic music.  The Good Friday service in Wise is cancelled and we encourage our Wise members to attend the service at our Abingdon campus.

God is in control and we can find comfort in His words.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV

Jim Fleming, Executive Pastor,Steven Davidson, Operations Pastor

In December 2017, someone on a public forum alleged that Rolen was having an inappropriate relationship with a church member. I have no idea whether the accusation is true. One person made a resolute defense of Rolen:

How dare you accuse one of the best men to ever walk in this area of such bullcrap. Are you feeling guilty about something yourself to go and accuse a true man of God who has done nothing but help the youth and young adults in this area? Jeff not only runs Camp Bethel, he is also one of the first on the scene of accidents, i.e. house fires, natural disasters etc. Even going as far as Texas and Florida to help rebuild damaged homes. Go and pick on someone else, nobody believes any of the lies you are trying to spread. God will deal with you, I pray.

I wonder if her opinion has changed since Rolen’s arrest?

WCYB-5 reports that Rolen had been granted bail, pending his August trial date:

A pastor and youth camp director accused of sexual misconduct with a minor has been released on bail pending trial.

Camp Bethel executive director Jeff Rolen pleaded not guilty in court Monday to 10 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.

….

The charges in the case date back to the mid-1980s, but a Virginia State Police investigator said in court Monday they were discovered while looking into more recent allegations. The investigator testified that during the execution of a search warrant last week at Rolen’s home and the camp, authorities found board minutes in which Rolen confessed to a sexual relationship from 1985 to 1987 with a female camper.

Rolen’s daughter also took the stand, standing by her father’s civic work in the community. The Wise County Chamber of Commerce honored Rolen as the county’s Citizen of the Year in 2014. News 5 spoke with Rolen’s attorney after the hearing who encouraged the public not to rush to judgment, saying there is a whole lot more to the story.

The attorney said Rolen has been suspended as Camp Bethel executive director. Last week, Highlands Fellowship released a statement stating Rolen had been removed from his position as pastor of its Wise campus.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Childcare Worker Benjamin Roberts Accused of Sex Crimes

benjamin roberts

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.

Benjamin Roberts worked for several church sponsored childcare facilities in Abilene, Texas. He was arrested yesterday on child sex crime and child pornography charges. Law enforcement is now focused on Wylie Baptist Church Child Development Center. Other people could could be arrested for failure to report child abuse.

Fox-4 reports:

An Abilene man with a history of working with kids has been arrested on child sex crime and child porn charges.

Benjamin Russell Roberts, 24, is charged with indecency with a child and possession of child pornography. His bond was set at $150,000 on each charge.

Roberts was arrested Wednesday after police served a warrant in a north Abilene home. Roberts “admitted to and was found to be in possession of child pornography,” according to the arrest report.

Abilene police said they had info that an unknown person downloaded child pornography from July 19 through Sept. 26, 2017. The investigation began on Feb 27.

On Wednesday, the cyber crimes division was able to identify Roberts as the person who was downloading child porn at his residence. Police said he lived at a community outreach home.

Police seized several devices — a Dell laptop, two iPhone 4s, a Samsung Galaxy, Sony USB — which contained child pornography. They also found “one pair of children’s underwear,” said Sgt. Lynn Beard. No children lived at the home.

Beard said Roberts admitted “to inappropriately touching a child under 12 years old last year.”

According to police, Roberts has worked at least three places where he was in contact with children, including the Wylie Baptist Church’s Child Development Center, Southern Hills Church of Christ daycare and the Beltway Park Church youth program.

….

Beard said each of the entities was “completely shocked” when they told them. He said one of them described Roberts as one of their best teachers.

….

An April 4, 2018 KTXS-12 report states:

The director of the child development center at Wylie Baptist Church has been fired.

The director’s dismissal comes in the wake of the arrest of a 24-year-old Abilene man on child sex crime charges. Before being taken into custody last week, Benjamin Russell Roberts had previously worked at Wylie Baptist Church’s Child Development Center and youth programs associated with at least two other Abilene churches.

Wylie Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor Mike Harkrider issued a statement Wednesday.

“As you all know Wylie Baptist Child Development Center has been working closely with the Abilene Police Department and the Department of Family and Protective Services in regards to the Benjamin Roberts investigation. At this point in the investigation, the acting director of the Wylie Baptist Child Development Center, has been released from her position as per the Department of Family and Protective Services. The investigation is still ongoing and this is all we know at this time. We are in heartfelt prayer for all of those involved in this difficult situation — Wylie Baptist Church CDC Board of Directors”

When asked the name of Wylie Baptist CDC director, Harkrider said, “The information given on the previous email is all that we can give at this time.”

….

KTXS-12 reports:

A south Abilene church daycare involved in a child sex crime investigation has been cited 19 times by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services since March of 2016.

Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said that they have been working closely with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services during this investigation.

On the DFPS website, it states that the Wylie Baptist CDC was cited 19 times for deficiencies during inspections, with risk levels ranging from medium to high.

Three of the citations involved supervision of children and had a high risk level.

….

Police also said on Wednesday that the director was fired and could face charges. Wylie Baptist CDC was cited March 9, 2016 after “it was determined that the director is not routinely present at the operation,” according to DFPS.

Roberts, who did not have a previous criminal record, had passed a background check, but the child care center was twice cited, April 28, 2016 and August 10, 2016, for not updating background checks on its employees.

….

A June 2018 KTXS report details more allegations of sexual abuse against Roberts:

After police reviewed surveillance footage at Wylie Baptist Church and spoke with concerned parents, they discovered six of his victims.

There are a total of eight confirmed victims, according to police, and the crimes that Roberts is accused of include indecency with a child and “two or more acts of sexual abuse against children younger than 14.”

A mother reported to police that she found her child in the bathroom with Roberts, and while Roberts reportedly denied any sexual contact, the child told his mother that Roberts kissed him on the mouth and on other parts of his body.

On April 4, the child was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center, where he also told authorities what Roberts had done to him.

Another child was interviewed at the CAC and told police that “Mr. Ben” would “tickle his tummy and rub his back.”

The child also reported that Roberts touched his private area at least two times.

A mother of one of the children in Roberts’ room at the daycare reported that she observed her child sitting on Roberts’ lap on three occasions and that she felt it was “inappropriate.” During a forensic interview, the child reported that Roberts would “slide his hands up her legs when he picked her up.” The child also reported that he would tickle her “belly and feet.” The child also reported that when she was in the playground, she ran up to Roberts and he touched her chest and then “said he was sorry.”

In surveillance footage captured between September and December of 2017, police discovered more evidence of Roberts inappropriately touching victims at Wylie Baptist Church CDC.

….

Black Collar Crime: Over Hundred People Report Allegations of Sexual Abuse in UK Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregations

jehovahs witnessess

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.

According to a blockbuster report in The Guardian, over one-hundred people have contacted the newspaper with allegations of sexual abuse in Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations.

The Guardian reports:

More than 100 people have contacted the Guardian with allegations of child sexual abuse and other mistreatment in Jehovah’s Witness communities across the UK.

Former and current members, including 41 alleged victims of child sexual abuse, described a culture of cover-ups and lies, with senior members of the organisation, known as elders, discouraging victims from coming forward for fear of bringing “reproach on Jehovah” and being exiled from the congregation and their families.

A Guardian investigation also heard from 48 people who experienced other forms of abuse, including physical violence when they were children, and 35 who witnessed or heard about others who were victims of child grooming and abuse.

The stories told to the Guardian ranged from events decades ago to more recent, and many of those who came forward have now contacted the police.

They told the Guardian about:

  • An organisation that polices itself and teaches members to avoid interaction with outside authorities.
  • A rule set by the main governing body of the religion that means for child sexual abuse to be taken seriously there must be two witnesses to it.
  • Alleged child sex abuse victims claiming they were forced to recount allegations in front of their abuser.
  • Young girls who engage in sexual activity before marriage being forced to describe it in detail in front of male elders.

A solicitor representing some of the alleged victims said she believed there were thousands of complainants in the UK and that the people who have contacted the Guardian were “just the tip of the iceberg”.

One alleged victim, Rachel Evans, who has waived her right to anonymity, claimed there was a paedophile ring active in the 1970s, although details of the case cannot be divulged due to a current investigation.

“Within the Jehovah’s Witnesses there is an actual silencing and also a network where if someone went to the elders and said ‘there is a problem with this’ and they believe you, the whole thing will be dealt with in-house. But often these people are not dealt with, they are either moved to another congregation or told to keep their head down for a few years,” she said.

Another victim, who did not want to be named, said she was abused by a ministerial servant (someone with congregational responsibilities) in the organisation in the 1970s.

“I was sexually abused many times a week from the age of three until I was 12. Congregation elders knew that when I told them, at 12, what had been happening. No steps were taken to tell the police. I had to tell three male senior figures what had happened. Imagine that? A young girl telling a bunch of men what this man did to me. I wasn’t even allowed to have my mother there with me.”

After she went to the police about what had happened, the person who abused her pleaded guilty and was eventually convicted. “The Jehovah’s Witnesses should lose their charity status as they are not protecting children,” she added. She said she had mental health issues as a result of what happened and how it was dealt with.

….

When a Jehovah’s Witness experiences sexual abuse they are supposed to report it to elders, who are always men, who will take further action if there is a second witness to the offence. The perpetrator will then be called before a judicial committee if they admit abuse or if there is a second witness.

“This causes further trauma to the victim and coupled with the two-witness rule, is undoubtedly the reason that so many victims have never reported it,” said Kathleen Hallisey, senior solicitor in the abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, who is currently acting on behalf of 15 alleged victims.

She also noted that the problem with the two-witness rule in the context of sexual abuse was that there were rarely witnesses to it, “meaning that [these] reports … are usually dismissed”.

….

The Charity Commission launched an investigation in 2013 looking into the Manchester New Moston congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, concluding that it did not deal adequately with allegations of child abuse made against one of the trustees.

The commission is still running an inquiry into the main government body of the group, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain. This is examining the child safeguarding policy and procedures further.

Following the investigation into the Manchester New Moston congregation last year, the Watch Tower changed its policy so that victims are no longer required to confront their abuser face to face.

A former elder, who was asked to investigate a child abuse case in 2007, claimed he was urged not to contact the police, although it was decided that the perpetrator should not be assigned to work with children.

However, the then elder – who left in 2012 over how the case was handled – said that this rule was not followed by everyone and when he raised this as a concern he was told to back off.

“I hugely regret the fact that I wasn’t able to do anything at the time and I didn’t have the strength. And that lives with me,” he said.

Other former Jehovah’s Witnesses told how they were forced to share personal sexual experiences at a young age, after breaking rules set by the religion.

One woman, who wished to be anonymous, was called to a meeting with elders after she had sex at 15, which goes against the rule of no sex before marriage. “This meeting was three older men and me, a scared 15-year-old, who had just had sex for the first time. They had to know all the details before they chose my punishment,” she said.

….

You can read the rest of the feature story here.

Black Collar Crime: Three Salvation Army Members Convicted of Sexually Abusing Young Girls

salvation army

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.

Trevor Worthington, his son Philip, and William Tomkinson — all members (soldiers) of the Salvation Army — have been found guilty of sexually abusing young girls.

The Global Beacon reports:

“Three men who were members of the Salvation Army – including a father and son – have been found guilty of sexually abusing young girls.

Trevor Worthington, 88, his son Philip Worthington, 64, and William Tomkinson, 70, were convicted of charges including indecent assault and attempted rape.

The assaults against two victims took place in the 1970s and 1980s, Preston Crown Court heard on Thursday.

Another man, Derek Smith, 68, admitted indecent assault at an earlier hearing.

The abuse took place in a number of locations around Blackpool, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

William Tomkinson first abused one of the girls in the 1970s when she was 11 years old.

He was treasurer for the Salvation Army at the time.

Philip Worthington began to abuse the same girl when she was 13 years old and Derek Smith abused her when she was 14.

When the victim told Trevor Worthington about the abuse, including that his son had been one of the perpetrators, Worthington himself began abusing her, the CPS said.

During a police investigation into the first victim’s allegations, a second victim came forward to report that Tomkinson and Philip Worthington had sexually abused her in the 1980s, from when she was 15 years old.

Sophie Rozdolskyj, from the CPS, said: “These men abused their positions of high standing in the community to take advantage of two young and trusting girls.”

The men will be sentenced at a future date.

Dean Juster, director of the Salvation Army’s Safeguarding, apologised to the victims and said the organisation was “deeply concerned” that the assaults took place.

“As soon as we were made aware of the charges the action we took was to suspend the three individuals from our organisation. We worked closely with the police and provided access to our internal investigation records.

“We have listened carefully to this case and whilst we followed internal processes we had in place at the time we will ensure that we learn from any lessons in this case.”

….

The Black Pool Gazette adds:

Dean Juster, Director of The Salvation Army’s Safeguarding Department, said: “We unreservedly apologise for the pain the victims have suffered and our thoughts are firmly with them and their families. We are deeply concerned that these assaults took place and we hope that today’s guilty verdict will be a small step on a journey of healing for them.” “As soon as we were made aware of the charges the action we took was to suspend the three individuals from our organisation. We worked closely with the police and provided access to our internal investigation records. We have listened carefully to this case and whilst we followed internal processes we had in place at the time we will ensure that we learn from any lessons in this case. “We fully understand that it takes a lot of courage to come forward and we would like to reassure the public that any concerns they have around safeguarding will be investigated thoroughly and we will actively encourage victims to share their experiences with the police at the earliest possible stage, to ensure they have every opportunity to be heard.”

Trevor Worthington, 88, of Mayfield Avenue, Thornton, was found guilty of indecent assault by a majority jury after 21 hours of deliberations at Preston Crown Court. His son Philip Worthington, 64, of Warwick Place, Blackpool, was found guilty of seven indecent assaults. William Tompkinson, 70, of Raleigh Drive, South Shore – a married man who had been the treasurer of the Citadel – was convicted of 10 offences of indecent assault in the early 1970s. A fourth man – Derek Jeffrey Smith, 67, of Hall Park Drive, Lytham – previously admitted indecent assault.

The men were all members – known as ‘soldiers’ – of the Salvation Army. Sophie Rozdolskyj, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “These men abused their positions of high standing in the community to take advantage of two young and trusting girls. “Three of the men consistently denied the allegations throughout the investigation and prosecution. However the CPS presented a strong case to the jury which included compelling evidence from the two women who were abused by these men. “I would like to pay tribute to them for coming forward and giving their evidence to the court.” Earlier in the case Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said the first victim, now in her 50s, was abused from the age of 11 by the defendants.

Tompkinson was accused of fondling the girl during a van journey, with the seriousness of his acts progressing over time. When the girl turned 13 it was alleged Philip Worthington, who was also married, started abusing her, giving her lifts in his sports car. It was claimed when the girl turned to Trevor Worthington to confide in him about the abuse by the other two men he perpetrated abuse on her in his car. Another complainant came forward when the matters were being investigated by Lancashire Police. Mr Haworth said: “Philip Worthington would approach her from behind, grab her and molest her. This carried on for a number of years, culminating in an incident on a car park when he sexually assaulted her.”

….

An April 23, 2018 report in The Gazette states:

William Russell Tomkinson, of Raleigh Avenue, Blackpool, was sentenced to four years in prison for 10 counts of indecent assault. Philip Worthington, of Warwick Place, Blackpool, was convicted of four counts of indecent assault, indecency with a child and two attempted rape of the first woman, and five counts of indecent assault of the second woman. He was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison. Trevor Worthington, of Mayfield Avenue, Thornton, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for one count of indecent assault. Smith, of Hall Park Drive, Lytham, was given a 15 months sentence, suspended for two years with supervision, and must do 100 hours of unpaid work. Tomkinson, Smith and Trevor Worthington were placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years. Philip Worthington was placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely. All four men were given restraining orders banning them from contacting their victims.

Investigating officer Simon Morris, of Lancashire Constabulary’s public protection unit, said:

These men completely abused the trust that was placed in them, as members of the Salvation Army. To the outside world they appeared to be upstanding members of the church – when in fact they were anything but. Tomkinson, Smith and Philip Worthington sexually exploited their victim for their own satisfaction. When she eventually confided in Trevor Worthington – a man she ought to have been able to trust – he did not help her, instead using the opportunity to abuse her himself. The victims in this case have shown great courage in coming forward and reporting what happened to them more than 40 years ago and there is no doubt the abuse they suffered has had a lasting effect on them. I hope today’s sentence brings some comfort and allows them to move on with their lives.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Richard Mick has Rape Conviction Overturned

richard mick

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

Last week, an Ohio appeals court overturned the child rape conviction of IFB preacher Richard Mick. Mick was, at the time of his conviction, the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandusky, Ohio.

The Sandusky Register reports:

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

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

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

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

Bailey did not respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

An October 5, 2016, Sandusky Register report stated:

The long-delayed trial of a Sandusky pastor accused of sexually abusing children got off to a rocky start Tuesday when his attorney refused to participate altogether, and then defied the presiding judge.

The trial for Richard Mick, 55, of Lighthouse Baptist Church, is slated to resume Wednesday morning before Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette, but it remains to be seen just how the proceedings will unfold.

Soon after jury selection began on Tuesday, defense attorney K. Ron Bailey refused to participate and said he does not intend to do so for the duration of the trial.

“I’ve been practicing for over 33 years and I’ve never done this before, but, Your Honor, defense counsel cannot and will not be able nor willing to proceed today,” Bailey told Binette.

Despite Bailey’s actions, Erie County Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Lindsey said he will continue prosecuting the case as normal.

“We’re moving forward with the case,” Lindsey told the Register.

The trial could take up to two weeks, but will be decidedly one-sided if Bailey continues on this course. If he does, witnesses may not be cross-examined, evidence may not be presented in Mick’s defense, and defense witnesses may not be called at all.

In the meantime, prosecutors will continue seeking a conviction against the pastor, who’s facing a potential sentence of life imprisonment. Mick is accused of raping an approximately 8-year-old girl — and fondling an approximately 8-year-old boy — over a decade ago.

Bailey’s refusal to participate at trial seems to revolve around a few specific issues.

Last week, he filed two motions with the court — one asking that the trial be delayed, and one asking Binette to recuse himself.

According to court documents, Bailey asked for a delay for essentially three reasons:

•He had to travel out-of-state for his son’s wedding over the weekend.

•Mick had been ill recently.

•He hadn’t been able to fully investigate new accusations that Mick sexually assaulted another child. (Allegations that led to eight new indictments being leveled by a grand jury in August).

Bailey’s request came after more than two years worth of delays in the case. On previous occasions, he asked for the trial to be pushed back for a myriad of reasons, including Mick being ill, parking issues near the courthouse due to Ohio Bike Week, and not having enough time to prepare, according to court documents.

Binette ultimately denied Bailey’s new request for another delay, and ordered the trial move forward as planned on Tuesday.

Binette also denied Bailey’s request to recuse himself, which was, in part, predicated on Binette’s refusal to delay the case yet again.

Bailey also told the Register that the primary reason he wasn’t participating in Mick’s current jury trial is because no ruling had been made regarding an expert witness’s testimony.

“The biggest thing is…the motion…that was filed back in August hasn’t been ruled on yet,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Binette, however, ruled on that motion Tuesday morning following a heated exchange with Bailey in the courtroom, court records state.

After Bailey declared his intentions not to participate during jury selection, Binette told Bailey and Lindsey to return to their seats and step away from his bench.

“You may step back, you are excused,” Binette told the men.

Lindsey retreated, but Bailey stayed put and cut the judge off.

“I was talking about—” he said.

“You may step back,” Binette said, firmly.

The exchange repeated itself, and Bailey again interrupted.

“I know I may but I won’t…” Bailey responded.

At that point, Binette ordered the jurors out of the room and warned Bailey for contempt of court.

“Counsel, this court said ‘Step back’ (and) you said ‘you may but you weren’t’. Further activity like that will be held in direct contempt of court and the court will sanction appropriately,” Binette said before resuming proceedings.

The jury selection process then continued where it left off — but Bailey refused to chime in each time he was given the opportunity.

“We’re not participating,” he said multiple times. “I previously told you that I won’t participate in this trial and I’m sticking to that.”

Bailey argued that continuing with the trial “would violate Reverend Mick’s rights to guaranteed due process.”

….

An August 31, 2016 Sandusky Register report stated:

Just weeks ahead of his trial for other alleged child sex crimes, a local pastor was indicted yet again — this time for allegedly touching a five-year-old boy.

Pastor Richard Mick, 55, of the Lighthouse Baptist Church, was indicted this month on eight felony counts of gross sexual imposition.

It marks the fourth time since 2012 Mick has been accused of child sexual abuse.

The alleged victim in this case, like the previous cases, was a member of Mick’s Cleveland Road church, police say.

The boy, now 15, told investigators Mick inappropriately touched him on multiple occasions about a decade ago.

“He said he used to get in trouble at the church and Mr. Mick would talk to him alone in his office,” Sandusky police Detective Ken Nixon said.

It was during those meetings Mick allegedly touched the boy.

“He recently had to talk to some counselors and disclosed this to them. The counselor passed it on to police and Children Services,” Nixon said.

The boy’s story is similar to the accounts of two other children (now teenagers), who each alleged Mick abused them at the church when they were about eight years old.

One of the alleged victims in that case said she was raped by Mick, and the other alleged victim said he was fondled by the pastor.

Mick was indicted for both of those incidents in 2014, and his jury trial is now scheduled for October 6.

The pastor was accused of raping another girl back in 2012, but Erie County prosecutors dropped that case, saying they could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, according to court records.

When the Register contacted Mick’s defense attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, for comment, he did not address Mick’s eight new indictments directly. He did, however, point to a lie detector test Mick underwent for the 2014 case.

“He has passed polygraph examinations showing that the allegations are false,” Bailey stated.

Bailey asked for those results to be included in Mick’s upcoming trial, but polygraph exams are generally inadmissible, and a judge denied his motion.

The most recent allegations against Mick surfaced in early July, after the boy’s counselor reached out to local authorities.

The boy was then interviewed on July 22, and the case was presented to an Erie County grand jury, which opted to level eight new indictments against the pastor.

….

An October 7, 2016 Sandusky Register report stated:

A Sandusky pastor was convicted of child rape and sentenced to life in prison Friday at the conclusion of a tumultuous trial.

A jury found Richard Mick, 55, of Lighthouse Baptist Church, guilty on four felony counts, two of which carried a mandatory life sentence.

Mick raped a young girl on two occasions, and fondled a young boy multiple times. Both were members of his church.

“A pastor is (supposed) to take care of his flock,” Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette told Mick. “You didn’t do that.”

He called Mick a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” before handing down the sentence.

“They thought you were protecting them and you weren’t. You were harming them,” Binette said.

Mick received a life sentence for raping the girl and an additional five years for victimizing the boy.

Two other alleged victims testified at trial this week, detailing other alleged abuse they said they sustained at Mick’s hands.

The pastor is facing eight additional counts of gross sexual imposition for one of those cases, which is still pending. Over the coming months, Mick will likely be shuttled back to Erie County to answer for those alleged crimes.

“This trial has been about courage, the courage of four young adults to come forward and share their inner demons,” said assistant Erie County prosecutor Aaron Lindsey during his closing arguments Friday morning.

The jury ultimately agreed with prosecutors. They returned with guilty verdicts after less than two hours of deliberation.

The defense strategy of Mick’s attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, was highly unusual. He refused to participate in the trial, and essentially argued no case on his client’s behalf. Local officials said they’d never witnessed anything like it.

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