Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Deacon Charles Sweet Accused of Sex Crimes

charles sweet

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.

Charles Sweet, a former deacon at Hays Hills Baptist Church (a Southern Baptist congregation) in Buda, Texas, was accused in 2012 of sexually abusing a female family member. The investigation was suspended due to concerns over the child’s mental wellbeing. Sweet was excommunicated from the church.  Yesterday, the investigation was reopened as new allegations against Sweet have come to light.

The Hays Free Press reports:

A former Hays Hills Baptist Church deacon is expected to face charges of indecency with a child by contact after authorities accused him of abusing two girls, who are now adults, in the past.

During the course of a joint investigation conducted by Austin Police and the Hays County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), authorities believe “multiple” girls, also now all adults, had also been sexually abused by Charles Sweet, 85, of Austin, over the course of several years.

Sweet has not yet been arrested, according to a KXAN-TV report. Sweet had been a deacon at Hays Hills Baptist Church in the Buda area until he was removed and banned from the church following a 2012 sexual abuse investigation conducted by Austin Police, according to KXAN.

Eric Guevara, a detective with the Austin Police Child Abuse Unit, said the Hays County Sheriff’s Office in January received report from an adult woman who accused Sweet of sexually abusing her when she was younger, Guevara said. The alleged abuse took place in Hays County and in the Austin area.

Guevara, who reopened the 2012 investigation and joined the HCSO in its inquiry, discovered “multiple” girls, who are now adults, were victims of abuse by Sweet. Several women were identified as survivors during the course of their investigation, Guevara said.

The alleged incidents occurred from the early 1990’s and into the 2000’s. Guevara said Sweet’s “target age” was prepubescent children ranging from 6 to 12-years old. All victims in the case are female.

During that time period, Sweet was affiliated with Hays Hills and also conducted ministry work outside of the church at a location in Hays County.
That ministry work involved bible study, tutoring and general care for young children.

Charles Sweet is in his 80s. I have no doubt that if investigators dig deep enough they are going to find numerous victims. It wouldn’t shock me to find out that he has been messing with children for decades.

Update

The Statesman reports:

A former Hays County deacon turned himself in Thursday to be booked into the Travis County Jail on two charges of indecency with a child.

Charles Sweet, 85, has since been released from jail after posting a bond toward his $100,000 bail, Austin police officials said.

Sweet is also being investigated in connection with several other allegations of sexual abuse against young girls in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Austin police and church officials have said.

….

Police reopened the investigation into Sweet in January when they learned of other potential victims in Hays County, who said he abused them when they were children.

In one of those reports, a woman told police that Sweet repeatedly touched her genitals when she was between 4 and 6 years old while attending youth ministries for the Hays Hills church in Buda. She said the abuse occurred more than 100 times, documents say. She said she also was abused at Sweet’s residence in Austin, where she would go after church on Sundays, the affidavits say.

Austin police said Sweet was brought in for questioning in May and he admitted to sexually abusing several young children in the early 2000s, including the woman who made the report. He said he loved the victim and did not plan the abuse, but had done it “subconsciously” and suffered from either sex addiction or “uncontrollable impulse control,” arrest affidavits say.

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor John McFarland Accused of Sex Crimes

pastor john mcfarland

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.

John McFarland, pastor of Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton, California, stands accused of sexually assaulting seven children. Prior to his tenure at  Orangethorpe, McFarland was the pastor of Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2011 to 2016, Fountain Valley United Methodist Church in Fountain Valley from 1988 to 2016, and from 1981 to 1988, he was the pastor of Calexico United Methodist Church in Calexico — all located in California. McFarland was also a chaplain for 20 years for the Fountain Valley Police Department until his retirement a few years ago.

A press release from the office of the District Attorney of Orange County states:

A man who served as a head pastor at several Southern California churches faces 11 child molestation charges for victimizing seven children ranging in age from five to 15 years old.

John Rodgers McFarland, 67, of Fullerton was arrested on May 9, 2019. He is charged with seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, and four felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor between the ages of 14 and 15.

Prosecutors allege the molestations for the current offenses occurred between 2003 and 2017.

McFarland is currently being held on $2 million bail at the Orange County Jail. He faces a maximum sentence of 179 years to life if convicted on all counts.

KTLA reports:

The defendant was previously arrested on suspicion of child molestation in Escondido last December after a girl came forward to report the alleged abuse, according to the Fountain Valley Police Department.

During the investigation into that case, police said they uncovered “evidence that McFarland abused other victims.”

He was arrested again Thursday, according to the DA’s office.

McFarland is suspected of abusing the children between 2003 and 2017, during which time he served as a pastor at several churches in Orange and San Diego counties, prosecutors said.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Worker Steven Winn Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Church Teen

steven winn

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 2018, Steven Winn, an unpaid youth worker at Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a church teenager.

WFAA-8 reported at the time:

Police in Mesquite have arrested a youth pastor’s assistant at a local church and charged him with sexually assaulting a child.

On Feb. 18, police received a report about the sexual assault. Their investigation concluded that Steven Winn, 33, had an ongoing sexual relationship with a teenager for just over a year. She was 15 when the relationship began and 16 when police got involved.

Police said Tuesday that Winn is the assistant youth pastor at Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite. The victim was a student at the church’s Christian school, police said.

Pastor Bob Ross with the church said Winn was never employed by the church and was a volunteer who served as an assistant to the youth pastor.

“Mr. Winn’s primary duties consisted of helping to drive our teens to various activities such as camp, youth rallies, and summer camp,” Ross said. “He had no official duties or title of any kind.”

Police say Winn worked for the City of Mesquite as a construction inspector in the Public Works Department for 14 years. He was terminated on Feb. 20.

Two days later he was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child in Dallas County. His bond was set at $25,000 for each count. A few days later he was charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child in Kaufman County. His bond there was set at $1,000 for each count.

Police say sexual encounters between Winn and the teen occurred in both counties. There were multiple occurrences in each, but prosecutors settled on three cases to charge, MPD said.

Today, Winn pleaded guilty to three counts of sexually abusing a child and was sentenced to four years in prison. After release, Winn will have to register as a sex offender.  According to the Dallas News, Winn still faces one count of sexual assault of a child in Kaufman County. He was indicted on the charge last month.

larry winn

Several days after Steven Winn’s arrest, Larry Winn, Steven’s father, was also arrested on sexual assault charges. The elder Winn was the bus director at Open Door — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

The Star-Telegram reported at the time:

A Mesquite church staff member accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with an underage congregant may have additional victims, police say.

Larry Winn, 65, of Dallas, who coordinated a bus ministry for members of Open Door Baptist Church who needed a ride to and from worship, is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl [a different girl from the one assaulted by his son]. He was arrested Thursday.

“Due to Winn’s level of access to children, investigators believe there may be additional victims,” police Lt. Brian Parrish said in a news release.

The elder Winn remains free on a $25,000 bond. Evidently, the family that “preys” together, stays together.

pastor robert ross

Robert “Bob” Ross, the pastor of Open Door, was arrested in April 2018 and charged with failing to report the alleged abuse. He remains free on a $2,500 bond.

The Dallas News reported at the time:

Robert Arnold Ross, 70, pastor of Open Door Baptist Church, was booked into the Mesquite jail Tuesday morning on one count of knowingly failing to make a required child abuse report. His bail was set at $2,500.

….

Police say Ross learned about the abuse on Feb. 1 — more than two weeks before police learned of the accusation — and did not notify authorities.

pastor matt jarrell

And finally, in 2011, Matt Jarrell, Open Door’s pastor at the time, was arrested and accused of raping a woman. He later hung himself in jail.

According to the Star-Telegram:

Open Door Baptist Church pastor Matt Jarrell died in May 2011 in a Charleston, W. Va., jail cell. Days before, Jarrell had been arrested and accused of raping a woman.

The woman told authorities Jarrell picked her up in Charleston when she needed a ride home. Instead of taking her home, he took her to a secluded area and raped her, according to a criminal complaint.

….

The Dallas News reported in 2011 that Jarrell lived a double life while pastoring Open Door Baptist:

Baptist preacher Matt Jarrell was a traveling man. He usually hit the road by himself, leaving behind his wife, four children and the loving embrace of his congregation at the Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite.

Jarrell, a bear of a man at 6-3 and 285 pounds, hunted moose and preached a sermon last fall in Alaska. He hunted elk in Nebraska with church friends.

But his travels weren’t always for hunting and fellowship.

In 2003, Jarrell traveled to Baltimore, where he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute and illegal handgun possession.

In 2007, San Antonio police arrested him for sexual assault after a woman accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex.

Last weekend, Jarrell’s final trip ended tragically in a jail cell in Charleston, W.Va. Two days after his arrest on a rape charge, he hanged himself in jail. At age 41, the double life he had been leading was over.

….

Like other Baptist sects, the fundamentalist churches don’t allow women in leadership positions. While Open Door Baptist Church has no dress code, most church women wear long dresses or skirts and tops with high necks — no sleeveless tops.

“It’s just respecting the Lord,” said Donna Woodson, an Open Door member for more than 20 years. “It’s nothing … we just feel that we should dress in modest apparel.”

Woodson, 57, said Jarrell was respectful of women.

“He seemed like he really loved his wife, Ginny,” she recalled. “So I’m just shocked to hear any of this stuff. I’m not even sure to believe it.”

Jarrell traveled to Columbus, Ohio, in January to deliver a guest sermon at High Street Baptist Church, another Fundamentalist Baptist affiliate. He began by telling the congregation his personal story of salvation in the mid-1990s.

He was in the Army at Fort Campbell, Ky., when he attended a revival meeting featuring the Baptist preacher Jack Hyles, who was a well-known Baptist evangelist in the Midwest.

“I’m carnal, wicked as hell,” Jarrell told the Ohio congregation, describing the way he was back then. “I used to be a fighter until I got saved that night.”

….

Jarrell’s first brush with the law, as far as The Dallas Morning News can determine, came at 11:40 p.m. on April 15, 2003, in Baltimore, about 60 miles south of York.

Court records and police reports say he solicited a prostitute who turned out to be an undercover police officer running a “john sting.” Police found two handguns in Jarrell’s white Chevrolet truck — a .44-magnum Taurus with a laser sight and a .45-caliber pistol with one round in the chamber and five in the magazine.

Shonte Drake, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor, said available records don’t make clear whether Jarrell pleaded guilty or was found guilty after a trial.

“In any event, he was convicted and served 18 months probation on the handgun charge,” Drake said.

….

Jarrell’s next brush with the law came in San Antonio on May 24, 2007, when he was arrested after a woman complained that he threatened her with “force and violence” unless she performed oral sex on him. She told police she believed he had “the ability to execute the threat” because he was so big, according to court records.

Jarrell was released from jail on $50,000 bond.

….

A Bexar County grand jury meeting in San Antonio indicted him on a second-degree felony charge of sexual assault on Dec. 19, 2007. Jarrell’s attorney told The News that the case is still pending because of a backlog in the criminal courts.

….

The details surrounding Jarrell’s arrest in West Virginia now seem almost irrelevant. But, for the record, the criminal complaint against him alleges that he met a woman in a bar. She needed a ride home and he offered to help. Instead, he took her to a remote area and sexually abused her in his Toyota Tundra pickup.

The woman escaped after the attack and called police. Investigators said Jarrell first denied the assault, then confessed.

“According to family members, Jarrell was supposed to be in Pennsylvania,” said Lt. Sean Crozier, a Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department spokesman. “It’s disturbing that a man could lead such a dual life with aspects of it on opposite ends of the spectrum — if the allegations were true.”

No one will ever know what tortured thoughts ran through Matt Jarrell’s mind in the moments before he hanged himself two days after his arrest.

Did he pray? Did he believe he was going to heaven or hell?

During the nine months before his death, he told his congregation that he was suffering from liver cancer. During his sermon in January in Columbus, he told his listeners that a malignant tumor the size of a grapefruit was on his liver and that the cancer had spread to his lymph system.

The medical examiner’s office in West Virginia performed an autopsy after his suicide, but the results were not available late last week. Whether the cancer was real or fictional is yet to be resolved.

….

Sadly, Open Door Baptist Church remains open for business, as does its school, Mesquite Baptist Academy. In November 2018, “Dr.” Eric Pittman became the pastor of Open Door.  The church is busily remodeling its building, hoping to bury past scandals under new drywall and carpet. I plan to do what I can to make sure the public knows what happened. I should note in passing, that the late Jack Hyles was mentioned in several of the stories I read about Open Door and its pervert pastors/workers.  It seems that Hyles as a person or his bankrupt theology is never far from sexual scandals. Perhaps it is time for IFB churches and pastors to connect the dots and conclude that Hyles and his theology has caused untold harm, both to children and adults.

Black Collar Crime IFB Pastor Garry Evans’ Trial Scheduled to Start in September

pastor garry evans

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 October 2017, I posted a story detailing sexual abuse allegations against Garry Evans, pastor of Rushville Baptist Temple in Rushville, Indiana.  Rushville Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

RTV-6 reported at the time:

A 72-year-old pastor in Rush County is accused of molesting multiple young children in his congregation.

Garry Evans, Pastor of the Rushville Baptist Temple was arrested Wednesday evening during a traffic stop.

According to court documents, the investigation began after a 3-year-old child who attends the church told her mother that Evans had taken her into his office to give her candy then “pulled his pants down” and made her touch his genitals.

Shortly after the investigation began another mother came forward saying her 7-year-old and 5-year-old claimed they had also been touched by the pastor. Both girls told investigators that “The Pastor” gives the kids candy when they go into his office alone, and touches them or makes them touch him. The youngest girl told investigators that it started happening after she started kindergarten in August.

And another mother with two young girls at the church also came forward with a similar story.

Rushville Police Chief Craig Tucker said a woman also came forward and said she had been molested by Evans decades ago, in a different community. That woman helped police pursue the new cases, but it is unclear if charges can be sought in hers.

Evans is charged with three counts of child molestation, four counts of sexual battery and five counts of child solicitation. He is currently being held without bond at the Rush County Jail.

….

In November 2017, the Rushville Republican reported:

The Rush County Prosecutor’s Office filed more charges Thursday against Garry Evans, the Pastor of the Rushville Baptist Temple Church. The new charges stem from allegations from a new alleged victim, identified in Court filings as a six-year-old. The new charges include Child Molesting, a Level 4 Felony, and Child Solicitation, a Level 5 Felony.

Evans previously was charged with Child Molesting, Child Solicitation, and Sexual Battery involving five alleged victims. Evans posted the $20,000 bond soon after it was set by the Judge. Along with the new charges, the Prosecutor filed a motion to increase Evans’ original bond. Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness explained that the fact that these charges bring the number of alleged victims to six justifies a higher bond than the standard Level 4 Felony case, and added that his office was seeking Evans to be monitored by the Rush County Community Corrections Program if he is released on bond. “We feel that given the charges, GPS monitoring and protective orders for all of the alleged victims and their families are important conditions of bond in this case,” Caviness said.

Court documents indicate that these new alleged incidents occurred sometime between the Fall of 2016 and Summer, 2017, but were disclosed after the first charges were filed against Evans. Trial for these charges currently is scheduled to begin on Feb. 20, 2018.

After these latest charges were filed, Evans attempted to commit suicide.

In February 2018, Evans was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. His wife was also arrested. The Herald-Tribune reported at the time:

A report of criminal trespass received by the Rushville Police Department Jan. 29 led to the arrest of Pastor Garry Evans, 72, and his wife Gay Evans, 70.

The elder Evans had been released from jail after posting a $20,000 bond following his initial arrest in October 2017 regarding a number of allegations of inappropriate activity with minors, according to earlier editions of the Rushville Republican. A condition of his bond required that Evans be placed on GPS monitoring by the court.

Although innocent until proven guilty, Evans was initially charged last fall with three counts of child molestation, a Level 4 felony; four counts of sexual battery, a Level 5 felony; and five counts of child solicitation, a Level 6 felony.

Additional allegations and charges were filed with the courts in November 2017 when another minor child came forward. Following the second arrest, Evans, the longtime pastor of the Rushville Baptist Temple, unsuccessfully attempted to take his own life and, as a result, was hospitalized for an extended period of time.

The couple’s most recent legal troubles began when the pair appeared Jan. 28 at a Rushville residence stating they wished to see a family member they believed to be inside. The tenant reported they would not leave until they spoke with the individual. The tenant and complainant in the case informed the Evanses that they were not welcome at the property and needed to leave. The couple refused and demanded to speak with the relative.

Following several attempts to get them to leave, the complainant stated that she felt threatened and retreated into the residence, where she retrieved a firearm. The woman returned to the door and again told the couple to leave, but they refused. At this time, Gay Evans attempted unsuccessfully to take the firearm from the resident. The complainant then locked herself inside and stowed the firearm.

A few moments later, the resident observed Garry and Gay Evans looking in a vehicle on the property. The complainant then chased the pastor and his wife off her property with a baseball bat.

As a result of the incident, warrants were issued for the arrest of Garry Evans and Gay Evans for criminal trespass, a Class A misdemeanor.

The pair were taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 30. During the course of the arrest, Gay Evans became verbally abusive and physically resistant toward officers and as a result was additionally charged with resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor.

….

Last week, the Rushville Republican reported that Evans’ trial was moved from April to September 2019.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo “Victor” Monteiro Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

victor monteiro

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

In July 2018, Malo “Victor” Monteiro, former youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and former assistant pastor at Menifee Baptist Church in Menifee, California, was accused of sexually abusing numerous children over a twenty year period. The Press-Enterprise reported at the time:

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

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

A woman by the name of April Avila publicly accused Monteiro of sexually abusing her while she attended Faith Baptist. ABC-7 reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

Last November, Monteiro pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting several church teenagers and was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Press-Enterprise reported:

Malo “Victor” Monteiro, 45, pleaded guilty at Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta on Tuesday, Nov. 13, to four counts of lewd acts on a child of 14-15 years of age with the defendant at least 10 years older, two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object and one count of attempted copulation of a minor, all felonies.

….

Before the sentencing, victims and former Faith Baptist Church congregants Rachel Peach, Lea Ramirez and April Avila — who all had previously told their stories publicly — made victim-impact statements.

Peach, who has sued the church, said in the lawsuit that her relationship with Monteiro started in the fall of 2007, when she was 15, and it advanced to sexual intercourse in the summer of 2008.

Ramirez has said she never had sexual intercourse with Monteiro, but she added that he would make her feel guilty when she refused. Ramirez said she left the church when she was 15 because of him.

Avila had said she was 14 when Monteiro began grooming her for sexual abuse with horseplay that turned intimate. She said Monteiro told her that it would damage her reputation if she reported the abuse.

Monteiro’s victims shared their stories in a Press-Enterprise news story. You can read their accounts here.

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

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Youth Pastor Clinton Brackett Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

clinton brackett

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 October 2017, Clinton Brackett, Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Lindale, Texas, was accused of sexual assault. Prior to his employment at First United Methodist, Brackett spent five years working for First Baptist Church in Ballinger, Texas.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph reported at the time:

The Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Lindale has been arrested for sexual assault.

Clinton Brackett, 32, of Lindale was arrested Thursday on a warrant out of Runnels County and taken to the Smith County Jail.

The arrest was the result of information obtained from a Texas Highway Patrol trooper’s traffic stop in Runnels County, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

….

First United Methodist Senior Pastor Rick Ivey released a statement saying Clinton Brackett, an employee at the church was arrested Thursday for charges of sexual assault that happened in Runnels County.

Ivey said the incident did not happen at FUMC Lindale or in the Lindale community.

“Clint Bracket’s employment with our church has been terminated,” Ivey said.

Brackett’s social media page indicates he was previously employed as the First Baptist Church in Ballinger. In a social medial post on Dec. 6, 2015, Brackett wrote that he accepted the position of Student Minister at the First United Methodist Church in Lindale and would be leaving the church in Ballinger after four and half years as a minister and member of the First Baptist Church family.

Brackett was held on a $100,000 bond which he posted on Thursday, according to Smith County Judicial records.

Yesterday, Brackett pleaded guilty to child sexual assault and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Robert DeLand Jr. Sentenced to Prison for Sex Crimes

robert deland jr

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

In March 2018, Robert DeLand Jr. a Catholic priest in the Saginaw, Michigan area and one time pastor of St. Agnes Church in Freeland, Michigan, was accused of sexually assaulting children.

Michael Kransz, a reporter for Michigan Live, wrote at the time:

Investigators say nearly half a dozen people have come forward with stories of alleged sexual abuse, attempted or otherwise, at the hands of a Mid-Michigan priest charged this week with sexual assault.

Some of the new allegations against the Rev. Robert DeLand Jr., 71, date back nearly three decades, and all of them involve people who were minors at the time and accessed through DeLand’s role as a priest, said Tittabawassee Township Detective Brian Berg.

Apart from one female, most of the alleged victims are male, Berg said.

“We want to encourage these victims to know that we’re going to hear them, we’re going to listen and we’re going to leave no stone unturned,” Berg said. “No one is going to stand alone in this anymore.”

In addition to victim statements, Berg said police are receiving “dozens and dozens” of tips about the Freeland pastor since his arrest Sunday night, Feb. 25, at his Saginaw Township condominium on Mallard Cove.

“We’re trying to get our hands around the enormity of it and put it into some kind of logical order,” the detective said.

Saginaw Township Police Chief Donald Pussehl said his office has since received five calls regarding DeLand’s “questionable behavior” in the past.

“Throughout the years, some of the things he would do with young boys, such as inviting them to his home, was somewhat strange,” Pussehl said, relaying the callers’ concerns.

Chris Pham, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, said the diocese is unaware of any past accusations against DeLand.

….

DeLand’s arrest, and subsequent charges of sexual assault, came after Tittabawassee and Saginaw townships finished their months-long investigations into allegations of sex crimes involving alcohol, drugs and underage boys.

Separate cases, similar situations

Although the cases were separate, one involving a 21-year-old man and another a 17-year-old male, they were similar in DeLand’s alleged predatory tactics, said Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner.

“There was a number of grooming techniques that were used to befriend the victim, to prey on the victim’s weaknesses and to lure the victim to the residence on Mallard Cove,” Gaertner said Monday. “That was quite similar to the same techniques used in the case where he was arrested last night.”

That incident involved the 17-year-old victim.

The alleged criminal acts involve attempted or actual, unwanted sexual contact.

DeLand, known to some as “Father Bob,” held a variety of positions at numerous parishes and Catholic schools in the Saginaw and Bay City areas since he was ordained in 1973, according to Pham.

DeLand’s tenure at St. Agnes in Freeland began in July 2011. Before that, Pham said, he served as pastor at St. James Parish in Bay City from July 2005 until July 2011. During that time, he was chaplain of All Saints High School.

Following the criminal accusations, DeLand was placed on administrative leave, according to a diocese statement.

….

Saginaw Township’s investigation began after a 21-year-old man reported in August that DeLand made unwanted, sexual advances on him while the pair were together at the pastor’s Mallard Cove condominium.

“Because of alcohol use, it did go further than what the victim had ever thought it would go,” Pussehl said.

Pussehl said the pair became acquainted through secular circumstances.

In November, parents of a 17-year-old male doing court-ordered community service with DeLand voiced concerns about the pastor’s behavior to Tittabawasee Township police.

“His parents were very concerned that he was grooming their son and touching him inappropriately and buying things for him and spending a tremendous amount of time with him,” Berg said.

Some of the alleged instances took place at the condominium, and others in DeLand’s residence in the church rectory, Berg said.

Berg took those concerns to the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office, where he learned of the Saginaw Township investigation. The 17-year-old agreed to help investigators by going undercover, ultimately leading to DeLands arrest.

DeLand was charged with attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct and gross indecency between males in the Saginaw Township case. Both are five-year felonies.

….

On March 12, 2018, The Detroit News reported:

A teen is suing a Saginaw-area priest, accusing him of “grooming” the high school student with gifts and invitations to his condo, leading to inappropriate contact including back rubs, groping and suggestions to view gay porn.

The Rev. Robert DeLand was charged last month with criminal sexual conduct following accusations from two males, ages 17 and 21. Police say they have received other complaints since his arrest.

The 71-year-old priest is on administrative leave from St. Agnes in Freeland, where he has had been pastor since July 2011, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw reported. The suit also names the diocese and its leader, Bishop Joseph Cistone, claiming steps weren’t taken to stop the cleric or look into allegations about DeLand’s conduct.

DeLand allowed the 17-year-old he met last year to perform community service at the church that the youth was ordered to complete over six months, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

When the youth returned to school that fall, the pastor was a volunteer “greeter” there, participated in school events and “engaged in a systematic pattern of ‘grooming’ behavior …, targeting the minor child, gaining his trust and/or providing him with gifts and favors,” attorney Todd J. Weglarz wrote.

Over time, DeLand took the student out of class to talk; bought him an expensive “vape” machine; invited the teen to his home to smoke; and “made inappropriate physical contact … during the school day, including back rubs, hugs and groping of the buttocks,” the court filing read. The priest also allegedly paid for his therapy to help deal with a friend’s suicide, texted or called him up to 17-20 times a day, then encouraged the student “to view large quantities of gay pornography,” according to the document.

DeLand invited the teen to his Saginaw Township condo last month to “party,” but that day, the cleric touched him “inappropriately, groping and fondling his crotch and buttocks, feet and toes,” the suit asserts.

The priest was charged Feb. 26 with one count each of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and gross indecency between male persons. He also was charged with one count of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct/personal injury for an incident involving a 21-year-old, 70th District Court records show.

DeLand, who has been ordered by the court during the Feb. 26 hearing to wear an electronic tether and have no contact with anyone under age 21, could not be reached Monday.

His attorney and diocese representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit, which seeks at least $75,000 in damages, contends DeLand abused his position while Catholic Diocese of Saginaw leaders failed to properly investigate allegations he abused the teen as well as others, “which created a climate whereby boundary violations and inappropriate sexual misconduct directed towards children and were permitted, condoned and encouraged,” Weglarz said.

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Earlier today, DeLand entered a no contest plea on charges of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, gross indecency between males, and imitation of a controlled substance manufacture and distribution. DeLand was sentenced to 2-15 years in prison, and 5 years probation.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jose Aboytes Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting a Child

pastor jose aboytes

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 March 2017, Jose Aboytes, assistant pastor of Palabra Miel Hispanic Church in Decatur, Illinois was charged with “seven felony counts for allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulting and abusing a girl younger than 13 during a period of seven months.”

The Herald & Review reported at the time:

Jose Luis Aboytes, a former pastor of a church on the city’s east side, was charged Thursday in Macon County Circuit Court with seven felony counts for allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulting and abusing a girl younger than 13 during a period of seven months.

Aboytes, 58, who is being held in the Macon County Jail on $250,000 bond, is facing one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, punishable by six to 60 years in prison, two counts of criminal sexual assault and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The victim told police she attended the Palabra Miel Hispanic Church, 3434 E. Wabash Ave., where Aboytes “began to sexually abuse her in an office in the church” about Sept. 16, 2015, said a request for an arrest warrant by Decatur Police detective Erik Ethell.
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The victim said the abuse “began with Jose touching her leg and progressed to sexual intercourse,” said the court document. The victim said that during choir practice “Jose would call her into his office,” where he would fondle and abuse her. She reported that the abusive conduct occurred during a period of several months. The adolescent girl told police she “took numerous cellphone photographs of her naked body and sent them to Jose’s phone.”

Detectives received more than 10 letters from the girl, in which Aboytes “expressed his love” for the victim, “in addition to knowing her age,” Ethell wrote in the court document. Aboytes “frequently asked (the victim) to destroy the letters after reading them.”

An intellectually disabled teen girl also reported to police that she had been abused by Aboytes, said the warrant request. She said that Aboytes would call her into his office, hug her and fondle her on top of her clothes. She told detectives that “Jose told her not to tell her parents about the conduct.”

Today, Aboytes pleaded guilty to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The Herald & Review reports:

Aboytes, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, ending his trial on charges he raped and sexually abused a girl younger than 13 from his congregation.

The sentencing hearing is set for July 11 in Macon County Circuit Court. He faces between six and 60 years in prison, of which he would have to serve at least 85 percent.

….

The plea deal came on the third day of what was anticipated to be a four-day trial. As part of the deal, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault were dismissed, according to court records.

Opening the trial Tuesday, [Assistant State’s Attorney] Kurtz described Aboytes, who served as an assistant pastor at the church, as using the friendly nature of the congregation to prey on the child.

Kurtz described a pattern of sexual assault that started with touching and escalated to groping and, after Aboytes had picked up the child once from her home on the pretense of taking her to the park, ended with rape.

She said Aboytes wrote intimate letters to the child and persuaded her to send him erotic pictures of herself — pictures the girl’s parents eventually discovered that prompted them to call police.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Leader Jesse Francisco Hernandez Perez Accused of Sex Crimes

jesse francisco hernandez perez

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.

Jesse Francisco Hernandez Perez,  a youth leader at Iglesias de Restauracion in Santa Ana, California stands accused of sexually assaulting two church girls.  CBS-Los Angeles reports:

One of the alleged victims is 11-years-old, police said.

Authorities said Jesse Francisco Hernandez Perez, 22, texted the victim and ordered the girl into a second-floor church bathroom where he sexually assaulted her during church services in March.

He is accused of also sexually assaulting a 14-year-old, also a member of the church.

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Perez has been with the church for about three years.

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Officials said Hernandez Perez is also a youth leader and a member of the church music group.

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The alleged assault in the bathroom was “extremely disturbing,” says Sgt. Anthony Bertagna.

“Apparently, there are multiple levels to this church,” he said, “and one day a week the men and the women are supposedly separated and he took advantage of that.”

One woman familiar with the church said, “He looks familiar. There’s always a big group here with a lot of kids. And they always do food events, which they give food to people who come here, to the church. And I just hope there are no more victims. I’m praying for the little girl, that she can move on.”

Sex crimes detectives say the 14-year-old alleged victim told them she was assaulted last month during a youth service at Hernandez Perez’ Anaheim home.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Larry Mullins Found Guilty of Sexual Abuse

pastor larry mullins

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

Earlier this year, I posted a story about Larry Mullins, pastor of Apostolic Christian Ministries in Nebraska City, Nebraska being arrested and charged with sexually abusing a minor.  On Wednesday, Mullins was found guilty of two counts of first degree sexual assault of a child and six other charges.

The Sandhills Express reports:

In closing arguments, Defense Attorney Robert Schaefer said the 70-year-old Mullins has been afflicted with hip and back problems leading to surgery and said he suffers from long-term troubles in balance and personal mobility.

He said Mullins was physically incapable of performing the acts as alleged by an 11-year-old girl, who was in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

Deputy Otoe County Attorney John Palmtag told the jury that “disability is a weak defense.”

Palmtag: “The claim that he was not able of performing these ‘not rigorous’ sex acts, I think holds no water. The jury should find it holds no water.”

At trial, the prosecution showed a two-hour video of the girl’s interview at the Child Advocacy Center. Palmtag said the girl was truthful in the video, in a deposition with lawyers and on the stand during trial.

Palmtag: “There’s not anyone in her extended family that would tell her to do this stuff, would sit down with her and concoct this incredibly intricate story to take down Larry Mullins. There’s just no reason. There’s no motive.”

Palmtag also offered an explanation for why the girl did not come forward earlier, over the four-year period. She did not alert her parents until March of last year, when she said Mullins hit her after she resisted his attempt to put his hand under her shirt.

Pamtag: “She was confused, she was scared. Larry Mullins was telling her she would be hurt. He was telling her that she would lose her family. He was telling her not tell anyone. He’s a trusted adult.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor William Oswald Accused of Sex Crimes

william oswald

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 Oswald, the former pastor of Dunn’s Chapel Church in West Columbia, South Carolina, stands accused of sexually assaulting two minors numerous times over the space of several years. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

WBTV-3 reports:

A former pastor of Dunn’s Chapel Church in South Congaree is charged with 12 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a child, after two victims came forward last week.

William Oswald, 56, was denied bond on Wednesday morning and remains jailed at the Lexington County Detention Center ahead of his next court appearance in May.

According to investigators, two victims allege the sexual abuse took place between 1996 and 2001 at Dunn’s Chapel Church, where Oswald was a pastor. According to the incident report, the victims described in graphic detail the alleged sexual assaults, each stating they were assaulted more than a one hundred times during the time period. The victims said the alleged abuse began when they were around the age of eight and continued until their early teens.

he two victims were inside the courtroom Wednesday morning during Oswald’s bond hearing. One said she feels empowered by stepping forward and reporting the alleged abuse.
“I just finally feel safe because he’s not going to be able to touch me again or get out,” she said. “Over the years he just always manipulates the situation so no matter how many boundaries you try to put up he ends up getting back in and he can’t do that anymore, I hope.”
The victim said she knows of other victims that have yet to come forward. South Congaree Police said there are likely other victims in different jurisdictions.

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“I know of several already, some that are still too afraid to speak,” she said.

She said she wanted to speak in hopes of encouraging other victims to step forward.

“There’s hope and it’s okay to speak and even if it takes you a while and years to feel safe and be separated enough it’s okay to speak, you can feel safe again,” she said.

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

richard mick

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bailey did not respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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