Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Bob, the Saved Rapist

barbara gerencser 1978

Mom and Bruce, Rochester, Indiana, 1978

Bob was my mom’s brother-in-law. Married to my dad’s sister, Bob was a rough-and-tumble truck driver and dirt-track race-car driver. Bob’s parents were devout Fundamentalist Baptists. Bob was raised in the church, and at the age of seventeen he walked the sawdust trail at a revival meeting and asked Jesus to save him from his sin. According to Baptist theology, Bob was now an eternally saved child of God.

After high school, Bob left home and abandoned the Baptist faith of his parents. Over the next six decades, Bob lived as if God did not exist. In every way, he lived as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. He was a booze-drinking skirt chaser known for sexually harassing and assaulting women. Female family members knew to steer clear of Bob lest they find themselves a target of his sexual advances. Age didn’t matter to Bob, and more than a few teen family members endured his touches, squeezes, and other demeaning behaviors.

Women got “used to” Bob’s sexual assaults. Viewing him as harmless, they would recount to me, “Oh, that was just Bob being Bob.” It was the 1960s and 1970s, after all, and that’s just how men were, I was told. As I will share in a moment, Bob was anything but harmless.

In early 1969, we lived east of Farmer, Ohio in a farmhouse owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law. I was in the sixth grade at Farmer Elementary School. One day, I was home from school sick. I spent the day in bed recuperating. In the early afternoon, Bob pulled into the drive. I figured he was there to see my mom, so I stayed in my room. A short time later, Bob left and I heard my mom calling my name. She was crying, saying that Bob had just raped her. She asked me to go to the neighbor’s house and call someone (I can’t remember who). I did, but no one ever came to our home.

You see, Mom had mental health problems — lots of problems. This meant, of course, in the minds of “healthy” people, she couldn’t be relied on to tell the truth. Bob was well-known in town. Bob would never rape anyone. Yes, he was a “little” too friendly with women, but, hey, that was just “Bob being Bob.” A few months later, we moved to Deshler, Ohio. Mom never talked about Bob after that. I suspect that she buried the rape deep in the recesses of her mind, right next to memories of her father repeatedly sexually assaulting her as a child.

Bob died a few years ago. His funeral was held at the local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. Bob’s parents helped start this congregation and were pillars of the church for decades. I attended the funeral, wanting to see what kind of send-off the once-saved-always-saved Baptists would give Bob, the Saved Rapist. The pastor giving the sermon spoke of the night sixty years prior that Bob had been gloriously saved, and that he was now in Heaven with his mom and dad. The pastor never mentioned that Bob hadn’t darkened the doors of the church since the 1960s and he, in every way, lived a life of debauchery. The pastor cared more about protecting the memory of Bob’s parents than he did telling the truth. I have seen this behavior countless times over the years: degenerate people preached into Heaven, all because they mentally assented to a set of theological propositions. And therein lies the vulgarity of once-saved-always-saved soteriology. It’s the same theology that says I am still a Christian, and that no matter what I say or do I will go to Heaven when I die. Just pray the right prayer, believe the right things and Heaven is yours!

As the funeral service went along, I found myself becoming increasingly angry. I wanted to rebuke the pastor for his lies. I wanted to scream at the congregation for their willful ignorance of what kind of man Bob really was. Most of all, I wanted to be my mom’s voice. Not a mile away, Mom lay silent in her grave. Oh, to bring her to life again so she could give testimony to what Bob did to her! On that day, I so wished that there was a Hell. If anyone deserved endless torment, it was Bob. Alas, there is no Hell, so the only satisfaction that comes from Bob’s death is that no other woman will ever have to suffer the indignity of being sexually assaulted by him. I wish Mom had been alive to see Bob meet his end. Unfortunately, fifteen years prior, Mom turned a Ruger .357 on herself, pulled the trigger, ripping a hole in her heart. Her beautiful, tragic life instantly came to an end at age fifty-four, due in no small part to men who saw her as an object of sexual desire and gratification and not as a thoughtful, intelligent — and yes, beautiful — human being she really was.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical John Longaker Continues to Pastor After Sex Crime Conviction

john longaker

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.

My friends at The Wartburg Watch have written several posts about Evangelical Pastor John Longaker’s sordid past; his conviction and prison sentence for having an illicit sexual relationship with a minor girl, Kelly Haines, while he was a teacher at Faith Baptist Academy in Sellersville, Pennsylvania. You can read the original 1997 news report here.  Today, Longaker is pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Bomoseen, Vermont.

The Wartburg Watch contacted Longaker, informing him that they intended to publish a story about his past.  WW provided a summary of their conversation with Longaker:

He claimed that he was innocent of the charges. His lawyer told him to pled guilty so that he would get *only probation.* He appeared to say that his lawyer is to blame for his prison term.

At first, he was friendly as he attempted to convince me he was innocent. He became progressively upset when I questioned his version of events.

He claimed that he and his wife are the real victims, saying that they have suffered every day since the trial. “Not a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about this.”

He attempted to convince me that Kelly was out for revenge and that he was glad when she was arrested for a *false report.* I asked him if he understood the trauma Kelly suffered at his hands and how that might have caused her to think she was seeing him around her town. He did not answer my question.

He claimed that he was going to make a statement to his church on 10/7/18. I asked him if he would share a copy of that statement and he said he would send it to me. I offered to post it in its entirety. It was no surprise to me that I never received the statement.

I told him that I would be writing about Kelly’s story and would use his name. He wanted me to be sure to mention that he was innocent.

When I asked why he was convicted if he was innocent, he claimed that the DA had it out for teachers in Christian schools.

He claimed that his church members asked him 3 times to be the pastor so he believed that this is what God wanted. I’m a bit unclear as to whether he actually told the church of his incarceration a priori. They know now due to Kelly’s diligence. If he did say something,  I’m sure he declared his innocence and that he merely pled guilty so he wouldn’t go to prison like his lawyer promised… Apparently one woman told Kelly that he went to prison to prevent going through the trauma of the trial.

Here is the most interesting (at least to me) part of our conversation. He asked me if I believed in redemption. At this point, I smiled. I knew the direction that he was going in and I also knew that he didn’t understand how this part of the conversation would lead me to conclusively believe in his guilt.

I told him that, of course, I believe in redemption since I’m a Christian. However, redemption, after appropriate repentance, doesn’t mean that a person should be restored to the pastorate. It simply means he is now restored to being a member in good standing of the church. I reiterated that I do not believe that any pastor or teacher, etc. who abuses a student or has an affair with a member of the church should ever be allowed to be a pastor. He disagreed with me.

I explained that teachers who are now convicted of sexual activity with students go to prison and lose their licenses permanently. Did he feel that churches should have lower standards than public schools? Again, he offered no response to my question.

At this point, he brought up how the apostle Paul was forgiven and went on to be a church leader. This is one of the silliest and most common *gotcha* proof texts that I hear frequently. Do people actually read their Bibles? I told him that Paul persecuted Christians BEFORE he became a Christian and that had he continued that activity after his conversion he would have been booted out!

He claimed that there was nothing in the Bible that proved he could not be a pastor. I, of course, referred him to 1 Timothy 3 which proves my point. He disagreed.

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (NIV)

However, I believe that he made a serious mistake in this discussion. If Longaker didn’t need redemption, why did he ask me if I believed in redemption? Why did he bring up the sins of Paul if he was totally innocent. If I was accused of a crime that I didn’t commit, I would absolutely refuse to discuss a need for redemption. I am now of the opinion that his discussion with me revealed that, deep down, he feels the need for forgiveness for his actions with Kelly. I fully believe that this man is guilty and should not step one foot in the pulpit.

Since, posting the original story, WW has been contacted by two other women who allege that Pastor Longaker sexually took advantage of them.

Articles published by The Wartburg Watch on this subject include:

John Longaker, a Convicted Predator, Is Now a Pastor and His Brave Victim, Kelly Haines, Wants to Know Why

Pastor John Longaker: Another Woman Recounts Her Sexual Encounter and a Third Woman Describes Her Counseling Experience #churchtoo

An Email from a Convicted Predator: Pastor John Longaker and a Challenge for TWW Readers

Today, WW posted an email Pastor Longaker sent them. Here’s the text of the email:

Hi Dee,

I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying about our conversation yesterday. I don’t know your blog at all so I am having a hard time understanding the purpose of your article on me. If you are writing it because you feel that you need to warn people about me then I guess you need to know this: I am pastor of an autonomous non-denominational church of between 80 and 90 attendees.

Since this is not the first time that Kelly has tried to destroy me by contacting different people in my church, there are many people who are aware of my past and have accepted me. They are aware of the charges and they are aware that I pled guilty. I have offered to resign on three separate occasions and my offer was rejected. So, if you want to expose me then after Sunday they all will know in my church anyway.

One of the members who knows was a woman who was sexually abused as a child. Another who knows was raped twice as a young woman. They both love me and trust me. I believe that I have helped both of them very much. One I was able to aid in counselling her out of her bulimia and suicide attempts. She continues to make significant progress.

I understand and respect your view on whether I should be a pastor or not. I talked to my wife about our conversation (incidentally we have been married for 31 years.) She knew Kelly very well.And has stood by me through all of this because she believes that her accusations weren’t true either. She wanted me to tell you again that Kelly was troubled before I ever began counseling her. (Maybe troubled by other sexual encounters?) She said that it’s ultimately up to the church to decide whether I should be their pastor or not and just because you don’t agree with that, does it give you the license to mention me by name? Needless, to say she was very upset that we have to continually live through this nightmare.

One final thought, if after Sunday the church wants to keep me, don’t you think the fact that my name will be on the internet again will damage the church going forward? If they choose not to keep me then your objective will have been met without writing the article. Our church is a loving, growing compassionate church. This blog can only hurt, not help. If your motive is to help, this is not the way to do it.

Even if I did the horrible things that Kelly said I did, I have been forgiven. I served a sentence that was outside the sentencing guidelines. It is not like this has been hidden. I served a public sentence, paid the price, and tried to put the past behind me. I believe that this has made me a better pastor. I have spent 20 years rebuilding my life and my reputation.

I truly appreciate you reaching out to me. Forgive me for using you as a sounding board but I have 20 years of humiliation and frustration pent up. For my own emotional health, I finally had to say something to someone outside of the church. My fear is that my denial of the accusations is just going to stir up the #metoo people all the more. I am already getting emails and phone calls from strangers.

Incidentally, I feel that her tweet was very unfair in addition to being untrue.

Regular readers of the Black Collar Crime series will easily spot the money quote in Longaker’s email: Even if I did the horrible things that Kelly said I did, I have been forgiven.

Even if he did it, Jesus has forgiven him! All praise be to the Lord, right?

blood of jesus

It will be interesting to see if Longaker continues as pastor of Fellowship Bible Church.

Black Collar Crime: So Many Crimes, So Little Time Issue

black collar 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.

joseph hudson

Joseph Hudson Accused of Sexually Molesting Girl at Evangelical Church Daycare

Joseph Hudson, an employee of Hobart Assembly and Growing Hearts Childcare & Learning Center in Hobart, Indiana, stands accused of sexually molesting a four-year-old girl while working at the daycare.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Police received a report from a man who said his daughter returned home from day care and said she was stung by a bee on her calf, a probable cause affidavit states. Hudson brought the girl into a classroom, put her on his lap and inappropriately touched her, according to the affidavit.

Hudson “was employed as a cook for the day care and lately they had been short-staffed so (Hudson) helped with the children,” the affidavit states. Hudson “assisted in the youth programs,” and he had “passed all background checks and was cleared to work with the day care,” according to the affidavit.

On the day of the alleged incident, “both teachers had to leave the day care and (Hudson) was the only person available to watch the children,” the affidavit states. Hudson “was the only adult in the day care during lunch,” according to the affidavit.

The father reported the incident to the day care director, who said “she confronted (Husdon) about the allegations and that he denied touching the child,” the affidavit states.

The director notified the church pastor, who contacted Department of Child Services, and Hudson was put on leave while the investigation was completed, according to the affidavit. The pastor informed his supervisor and contacted Department of Child Services, the affidavit states.

The church’s pastors met with Hudson Sept. 27 about the reported incident and told Hudson “that he was no longer welcome at the church,” according to the affidavit.

Hudson told the pastors that he was filling in for another person Sept. 25 at the day care “and one of the children was ‘fussing’ so he calmed the child down so she wouldn’t wake the other children, the affidavit states.

Hudson “stayed very quite and it appeared that he wanted to say something,” the affidavit states, and one of the pastors asked Hudson, “What do you want to say that you are not saying?”

“(Hudson) put his head down and said in front of both pastors, ‘I did it,’” the affidavit states. Hudson cried and said “that he didn’t know why he did it,” according to the affidavit.

michael kell

“Pastor” Michael Kell Found Guilty of Tax Fraud

Michael Kell started First Meliorite Church so he could avoid taxes by funneling assets and income through the church. Kell failed to file several annual income tax returns, saying he was a minister under a “vow of poverty.” He was sentence to eighteen months in prison on Tuesday and ordered to pay pay $321,878.40 in restitution.

Patch.com reports:

 Dr. Michael Jon Kell, 68, was sentenced one year, six months in prison on Tuesday. He was also ordered to pay $321,878.40 in restitution to the IRS.

According to prosecutors, Kell developed numerous patented technologies and worked as a consultant, which generated millions of dollars in income over the years. To hide this income, he founded and was the “pastor” of the First Meliorite Church, which he claimed to be a branch of the Universal Life Church.

“Despite earning millions of dollars and living a lavish lifestyle, Dr. Kell failed to file tax returns for several years when he falsely asserted that he was a minister under a vow of poverty,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.

“Kell thought he could outsmart the IRS and avoid paying his fair share of taxes to the government by hiding his personal wealth behind the doors of a church he created and controlled in an effort to thwart the IRS while living a lavish lifestyle,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. “Taxpayer’s who go to these lengths to evade paying their taxes will be investigated to the fullest extent and referred for prosecution to the Department of Justice in hopes of bringing individuals into compliance with the IRS.”

Kell directed his income and assets into bank accounts belonging to the church. He used these accounts to cover all of his personal expenses, including overseas vacations, dining out, high-end clothing purchases, online dating services, and private school tuition for his children. Kell also transferred ownership of his multi-million dollar residence in Vinings several times over the years to various entities he created and controlled, in an effort to protect the property from creditors, including the IRS.

In 2001, Kell was found guilty of Medicaid fraud and tax evasion.

Kell’s bio page states:

Michael Jon Kell, MD PhD has dedicated his professional life to improving physical, mental and spiritual health. His research interests are vast, exploring fields as diverse as quantum physics, artificial kidneys, polymer chemistry, drug addiction, pain management, quantitative urine drug monitoring, longevity medicine, herbal medicine, prayer and spirituality. Dr. Kell teaches, “A wise researcher, firstly, considers the social consequences of succeeding, and secondly, listens to his or her conscience so to guide the final decision.”

Perhaps this is why he and his associates have spent untold hours converting their laboratory  discoveries into commercially viable products which help and do not hurt.  Michael holds 12 U.S. patents (with many associated foreign filings) and has authored ten books many poems and stories,  and over fifty scientific publications. He writes for both scientific and general audiences, presents seminars and workshops and has been interviewed on local and national radio and television.

Michael is the founding director of the Institute For Conscious Evolution and Human Development. The Institute is a modern mystery school sponsored by the original, Esoteric School arising in predynastic Egypt. This School provides pragmatic, dogma-free instruction to persons desiring objective knowledge as to the hows and whys of creation, proven methods for awakening personal awareness and establishing individual atemporal permanence, the nature of the spiritual work of the Saints and Masters and many practical skills. The school’s work efforts are designed for demonstrating how one can become a cosmically-significant individual capable of laboring for the betterment of all life and mind. Dr. Kell is a well-respected medical scientist, psychiatrist, inventor, engineer, poet, storyteller, and free-thinker

jody sambrick

United Methodist Pastor Jody Sambrick Arraigned on Child Porn Charges

Jody Sambrick, pastor of Hopeland United Methodist Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, was recently arraigned on child pornography charges.

Fox-43 reports:

A 58-year-old Lancaster County man is facing several charges relating to child pornography after police  seized several computers and accessories last month during a search of his home in West Lampeter Township.

Jody Sambrick, of the 1700 block of Pioneer Road, was charged after members of the Lancaster County Digital Forensics Unit found several images and videos depicting child pornography during an examination of the seized items, according to West Lampeter Township Police.

Sambrick turned himself in on October 19 and was arraigned on three counts of child pornography, one count of dissemination of child pornography, and two counts of criminal use of a communication facility before Magisterial District Judge Joshua R. Keller. All the charges are felonies, police say.

Sambrick is a pastor at Hopeland United Methodist Church in Lititz, according to the United Methodist Church’s official website  and the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church website, which lists him as pastor at Hopeland and a West District clergy member.

dalton lanphier 

Trinity Life Baptist Church, Garland, Texas Sued For Negligence and Fraud

In 2016, Dalton Lanphier, youth pastor at Trinity Life Baptist Church in Garland, Texas  was sentenced to thirty years in prison on sexual assault charges. The mother of one of his victims has sued the church on behalf of her son, alleging negligence and fraud.

The Dallas News reports:

The mother of a boy who was molested by a former youth pastor of a Garland church is suing the church for negligence and fraud, saying it aided and abetted child abuse, according to court records.

Julia Davis, who now lives in Colorado, claims Trinity Life Baptist Church failed to report sexual abuse by Dalton Lanphier, 23, of Forney, or take any action against him.

….

Davis says in her lawsuit that Lanphier met her son when he was in middle school and abused him while allowing the boy to drive his vehicle.

“Through his position as youth minister, Lanphier came to know and gained access to minors and their families,” the lawsuit says. “Lanphier then used his position to sexually molest, abuse and assault minors.”

The lawsuit said the church “owed a duty to protect children from Lanphier, a sexual predator working as a youth minister.”

Trinity Life Baptist Church could not be reached for comment. An insurance company lawyer who is defending the church in the lawsuit also could not be reached.

The church opened its doors in 1992, according to its website.

Davis filed her lawsuit in Dallas County district court in August, seeking more than $1 million in damages. The church recently filed court papers seeking to move the suit to federal court.

In pukingly Baptist fashion, Lanphier has, through Mike Barber Ministries, seen the “light.” Here is an April 2018 video of Lanphier giving his testimony, one of deliverance and restored relationship with Jesus. As I said, puke, puke, puke, puke. Note that Lanphier never confesses what he actually did.

Video Link

Everybody But the Church Understands

rape is never the victims fault

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Not so long ago, rape was seen merely as a “sex crime.” I say “merely” because its “sexual” designation made it, at best, less worthy of attention or, worse, something the victim brought on herself. (Rape was also, for all intents and purposes, defined as something done to a woman by a man.) Thus, it could be seen as something that happened because a woman was out at the wrong time or wearing the wrong clothes — not a way in which one human being violated another.

But then a shift occurred. As someone who is not a criminologist or a scholar in any related field, I can’t tell you what caused the changed. What I know, however, is its result: policy makers and law enforcement officials are, increasingly, treating rape as a violent crime. While there are still police officers and departments, as well as public officials, who treat victims with condescension or even hostility, increasing numbers are doing what they can to give rape victims the same sort of attention and avenues of redress afforded people who have been mugged or suffered other random assaults — which, of course, is what they deserve.

Thankfully, I see a similar sort of change in the winds for people who have been sexually molested by priests or other authority figures, including employers, teachers and directors. One result is that more of us are coming forward, whether in the days or weeks after the incidents — or even decades later, as I finally did.

This is not to say, of course, that coming forward is easy or without repercussions: why do you think I’m writing under a nom de plume? But the fact that I, and others, have been able to speak up, in whatever ways and to whomever (I’ve told a few good friends as well as a therapist and social worker) shows that at least some people have a different, and more accurate, perception of sexual harassment, molestation, abuse and assault from the ones they had just a few years ago. And, of course, people who hadn’t been paying attention are now focused on the issue.

The change I see is this: people are starting to understand that when a priest takes advantage of an altar boy who doesn’t yet know the names of the parts of his body the priest is touching — or a director demands sex of an aspiring actress — or a coach or trainer forces him- or herself on an athlete whose life plans depend on staying on the team and keeping a scholarship — it’s no more a mere “sex crime” than the attack of a waitress on her way home from the lobster shift — a work shift that covers the late evening and early morning hours — or forced intimacy by a spouse, shift  partner or paramour. Instead, the abuses I’ve described are abuses of power imbalances — and, perhaps even more important, abuses of trust.

That last point cannot be overstated. People usually enter marriages trusting each other. Employees go to their jobs trusting that their supervisors or employers will treat them with personal and professional respect. And, every day, parents entrust their kids with — and teach their kids to trust — teachers and coaches.

And priests. In communities like the one in which I grew up, priests were trusted more than anybody else. That is one reason why abuse and molestation from them is so traumatic and alienating: The faith parents and other adults have, and teach their children to have, in their priests—whom they see as representatives of God — makes it difficult, if not impossible, for kids to speak up, even if they have the language to do so.

That implicit, unquestioned trust in priests makes abuse from them all the more egregious: violating that trust is worse than almost anything else that can be done to a vulnerable child — or, for that matter, to adults who lack the confidence to speak with other kinds of professionals. Very often, people like the ones with whom I grew up could confide in almost no one else, and they and their kids don’t have much else in their lives besides work, school, family and the church.

People are outraged over sexual abuse from priests, as well as other authority figures, because they’ve come to understand what I’ve described. My closest friend, the widow of a blue-collar worker, “gets it.” So does another friend who grew up without religion and says she never experienced abuse from anybody. So does a male friend who has practically no formal education.

Lots of other people get it, too. Sometimes it seems everybody does — except for Church officials. Rather than seeing sexual abuse by priests as an exploitation of trust and power, the church blames other things. Like the Sexual Revolution — never mind that victims have been reporting abuse they incurred decades before the SR supposedly corrupted us. Or homosexuality — forgetting that nearly all men (including priests) who sexually molest boys never have any sort of sexual experience with adult men, or any desire for it.

That last fact about the proclivities of pedophiles is something that I knew even before I had the language for it — or for my own body or desires, for that matter. I suspect most people these days understand as much, even if they’ve never read the research that corroborates it.

I understand. They understand. Everyone, it seems, understands — except for church officials — that priests preying on vulnerable young people is, more than anything, an abuse of trust. Perhaps it’s just not in their interest to understand. In the meantime, if not the sexual revolution or gays, they’ll find something or someone else — including the victims themselves — to blame.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Timothy Reddin Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

timothy reddin

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.

Timothy Reddin, pastor of Turner Street Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas, was arrested after he attempted to solicit an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old boy for sex. Previously, Reddin was convicted on child pornography charges and spent twenty-seven months in prison for his crimes.

Baptist News reports:

A former longtime Southern Baptist preacher whose ministry stalled 18 years ago when he went to prison for possessing child pornography is back in jail, this time for allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Timothy Lee Reddin, 67, was arrested Aug. 3 on a federal warrant for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. According to arrest documents, Reddin messaged an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent posing online as an underage male to arrange a meeting for sex.

….

In the past Reddin served Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas and Texas for three decades before pleading guilty in 2000 to possessing at least 10 illegal images, including one depiction of a child under 12.

Two years earlier he reportedly resigned as director of missions for Central Baptist Association in Benton, Arkansas, after two people found child pornography on a computer he used and confronted him over it.

Reddin went to prison for 27 months, after admitting to the sentencing judge that he had a weakness for child pornography but insisting would never actually molest a child. He blamed his porn addiction on sexual abuse he said he suffered at age 10 at the hands of an older boy.

Character witnesses including a fellow pastor argued for leniency, saying they believed Reddin felt remorse and was sincere about wanting to reform.

Fox-24 adds:

The undercover officer said he was on a website on July 27 in an unrelated undercover capacity when he received an unprovoked message from a website user with the profile name “Lee,” according to the affidavit

“Lee” described himself in his profile as a 62-year-old white male, 6’1″, 215 pounds and married. The profile description said, “I just wanna have fun…I like younger guys. But hell, at my age that’s just about everybody! Discreet, intelligent, witty, professional guy. Love to meet new friends. Especially naked ones,” according to the affidavit.

The undercover officer began interacting with Lee after receiving the initial message from him.

Lee began the conversation by saying “I like your hashtag! I’m no fan of our lying Pres.” He then complimented the undercover officer, saying “You are wise beyond your years. :)”

As the conversation went on, Lee said, “Yeah, a good looking 18 yr old will get hit on a lot.” The undercover officer said he wasn’t 18 and that he was on the website while his parents were out of town.

Lee asked the undercover officer for his age. The undercover officer said he was going to turn 15 in November and wanted to be around like-minded guys, to which Lee asked, “Gay I suppose?”

As the conversation continued, Lee asked the undercover officer if he had sex other than masturbation. He then went on to tell the undercover officer that many men on the website will want to have oral sex with him.

Lee later asked the undercover officer what kind of sexual activity he is looking for and what he is ready for. Lee suggested starting with oral sex and to then move onto other types of sex. He also recommended taking it a step at a time, saying “Gay pron will be your friend for a while. :)”

The undercover officer then tells Lee that he’s looking for someone he can trust to be his first. Lee responds, “If I weren’t such an old fart I’d volunteer! Lol.”

After the undercover officer said he doesn’t care about age, Lee said, “I could meet you. No pressure to do anything you decide not to.” (sic)

Lee then said “Here’s what I have to offer” and sent graphic images of male genitalia.

Lee offered to meet the undercover officer the next day for a burger and then go somewhere private so he can “coach” him on oral sex.

The undercover officer told Lee that he felt he could trust him then jokingly asked if he is going to kidnap or kill him.

“Actually, I’m an axe murderer…,” Lee said. He then added, “I’m a gentle guy really. I’m a college teacher and a businessman.”

The undercover officer told Lee he couldn’t meet the next day. He and Lee discussed meeting another time, and Lee gave the undercover officer his phone number after the officer asked how to find Lee on the website at a late time. Lee says, “Text, don’t call. My name’s Lee.”

The undercover officer said Lee contacted him another time and offered to give him pointers on having sex for the first time and offered to assist him with his first sexual experience. Lee then said, “I’ll never tell! I could go to jail!”

Sure sounds like Reddin “reformed,” eh? How about he went right back to his predatory ways,because that’s what sexual predators do. Jesus can’t fix pedophiles, so it is up to the state to make sure the Reddins of the world do NOT have access to children. A mitigating factor was the fact that Reddin was molested as a teen. Sadly, all to often, those preyed upon become predators themselves.

Today, Reddin pleaded guilty to one count of attempted online enticement of a minor. The good pastor faces a minimum of ten years in prison.

“But He’s a Good Person”

brett kavanaugh

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

During his Senate confirmation hearings, Brett Kavanaugh testified about the good and great things he’s done throughout his life: He has “mentored” many female students; 21 of the 25 clerks he hired while a US attorney were women. Why, he even coaches his daughters’ basketball team!

I have no reason to doubt that he has done whatever he can to offer women opportunities in the law, politics, academia and other areas. I also am willing to believe him when he says he is committed to equality or even when he says he’s tried to live an “exemplary” life.

I would also believe such statements from any number of other men. Moreover, I have known many other men who, throughout their lives, gave of their time and resources to help women, as well as men and children, in any number of ways. In fact, I know of one in particular who gave over his life to helping and guiding other people.

He was a priest in the parish where I grew up. Nearly everyone sang his praises: He was a fixture, not only in the parish, but in the community as a whole.

It seems that at that time, a priest stayed in a parish longer than he stays now: Some priests spent most or all of their careers in the same place, hearing the first confessions, offering the First Holy Communion and confirming young parishioners — and their children — and grandchildren. You would also see them on playgrounds, in nursing homes or walking the streets of the neighborhood. They visited the old and sick, sometimes giving of their meager means to help.

Also, in neighborhoods like the one in which I spent my childhood, priests were the de facto therapists and social workers. Most of the men were blue-collar workers and the women homemakers; many were immigrants and few had more than a high-school education. That meant they couldn’t afford, or didn’t know how to access, therapists, and even if they could or did, they never would trust them, or for that matter, social workers, in the same way they would confide in a priest.

The particular priest I’m thinking of right now did such things, and more.

And he sexually molested me.

Now, anyone who doesn’t know that probably knows only what a “good and Godly” man he was to them. Were I to tell them, then or now, what Father did to me, it probably wouldn’t change their perceptions of him. In fact, some would turn on me — or, for that matter, anyone else who might say that he did to them what he did to me.

(I, of course, have no way of knowing whether he abused any other kids — or assaulted any adults. But, given what we’ve seen, it isn’t hard to imagine, for me anyway, that he did: Sexual predators rarely, if ever, prey on only one person.)

So, even though I thoroughly sympathize with — and believe — Christine Blasey Ford, I understand why other women signed a letter of support for Judge Kavanaugh. Most were his high school friends or classmates and said, in essence, that the young man they knew “would never do anything like that.”

That is how most sexual predators are able to go undetected for decades.  If someone treats you well, you are less likely to think he or she is capable of harming another human being. That is especially true if that someone has some sort of standing in the community — whether through family or professional connections, academic or professional accomplishments or as a spiritual leader.

Brett Kavanaugh may well have been someone who “has always treated women with decency and respect,” as the letter relates. He may also be the rigorous scholar, conscientious teacher, caring mentor, impartial jurist, loving father — and champion of women’s equality – that he proclaimed himself to be.

That is, he might be all of those things — to people not named Christine Blasey Ford. Or Deborah Ramirez. Just as the priest in my parish was a godly, saintly man to many people in my community — but not to me. Or, perhaps to some other kids or, for that matter, adults who have not yet spoken up.

It’s difficult to understand the complexities of the human mind – what makes people “tick,” what goes on inside them. As a result, none of us ever knows what evil lurks in the depths of those we think we know – even those who are “good people.”

Black Collar Crime: Tim Omotoso Trial FINALLY Underway

tim omotoso

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

Please read my previous report about Timothy Omotoso here.

After eighteen months of investigations and delays, the trial of famed Nigerian/South African pastor Timothy Omotoso has begun. Omotoso, pastor of multi-branch Jesus Dominion International Church in Durban, South Africa, stands accused of sexually molesting young women, rape, and human trafficking.

The Sunday Times reports:

Graphic details of how a 14-year-old girl was groomed to perform lewd sexual acts on controversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso were laid bare in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.

The state called its first witness to testify in the trial against Omotoso and his two co-accused‚ Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28‚ which has seen its fair share of grandiose shenanigans‚ including drum majorettes performing in front of the court building while two off-duty policewomen were thrown out onto the street.

On Wednesday Cheryl Zondi‚ now 22‚ told the court how at first she was in awe of Omotoso after watching clips of him performing “miracles” but soon became disillusioned by him after she realised the sexual acts he made her perform on him were nothing more than predatory sexual assaults.

Omotoso and his co-accused face 63 charges in total ranging from racketeering to sexual assault and rape allegedly committed across the country and abroad‚ including in Nigeria and Israel.

Please take time to watch the following short video. The victim’s testimony is heartbreaking, a poignant reminder of how “men of God” use religious terminology and persuasion to prey on vulnerable teenagers and women.

Video Link

Black Collar Crime: So Much Crime, So Little Time Issue

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

angel mauricio ruiz

Evangelical Pastor Angel Mauricio Ruiz Accused of Sexually Assaulting Female Juvenile

Angel Mauricio Ruiz, pastor of Church Ministerio Cielos Abiertos, in Woodbridge, Virginia, has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor. According to the Alexandria News, Ruiz allegedly assaulted a female family member. He is being held without bond.

dustin colony-herrera

Evangelical Youth Pastor Dustin Colony-Herrera Arrested on Outstanding Warrant for Sexual Assault

Dustin Colony-Herrera, the former youth pastor at Yucaipa Christian Church (now called Active Church) in Yucaipa, California, was arrested in Oregon on an outstanding warrant for sexual assault. Colony-Herrera is accused of thirteen counts of lewd acts on a child, with sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims in a sex crime.

The Press Enterprise reports:

Herrera was taken into custody last week in Medford, Ore., after Jackson County sheriff’s deputies received a request from investigators assigned to the Riverside-based Inland Regional Apprehension Team to serve an arrest warrant on the defendant.Herrera was booked into the Jackson County Correctional Facility, where he’s being held in lieu of $3 million bail.

Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Carroll said an extradition proceeding to return Herrera to California is pending.

According to investigators, between 2000 and 2004, Herrera served as a youth group leader at what was then called the Yucaipa Christian Church, where he came into contact with numerous children.

Herrera resided in Calimesa at the time, and would allegedly bring minors from the group to his home, where he committed unspecified acts of molestation, Carroll said.

The alleged offenses were detailed in November by several victims, whose names were not released, after the now-adults came forward and gave statements to detectives at the sheriff’s Calimesa Station, according to Carroll.

donn ketcham

Evangelical Missionary and Serial Child Molester Don Ketcham Escapes Punishment for His Crimes

Please read my previous report on Ketcham.

Donn Ketcham, 87, an Evangelical Baptist missionary, will escape punishment for the decades-long molestation of children thanks to a judge declaring him incompetent to stand trial.

Wood-8 reports:

An Ottawa County judge ruled that Donn Ketcham, now 87, is incompetent to stand trial because he suffers from dementia.

Prosecutors told 24 Hour News 8 they don’t plan to appeal, which means the charge against him will be dismissed.

Ketcham’s alleged victims from his decades in Bangladesh — known then as MKs, or missionary kids — said the local case was their only chance for justice.

“As far as earthly justice, this was our one shot,” said Diana Durrill, of the Denver area, who said Ketcham molested her in the 1980s in Bangladesh.

Ketcham, who also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was never charged over the allegations in Bangladesh decades ago, in part because his missionary group covered up the alleged crimes.

In his decision filed last week, Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Jon Hulsing cited Ketcham’s age, the fact he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and his failing memory.

He is “unable to recall his attorney’s name, is unable to identify his medications, is unable to identify the date, has gotten lost when walking, obsesses over certain issues, forgets significant events, and becomes agitated,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

A state psychologist testified July 20 that Ketcham was competent to stand trial.

However, the judge wrote that “the state’s evaluator does not challenge the defense expert’s conclusion which deems defendant incompetent to stand trial.”

The judge said Ketcham would not be able to defend himself from the expected testimony of his accusers from his days in Bangladesh.

The judge also ruled that based on Ketcham’s and diagnosis, his mental abilities will continue to get worse.

“Accordingly, there is NOT a substantial probability that, if provided a course of treatment, defendant will attain competence within 15 months,” the judge wrote.

“There is no indication that defendant is malingering or in any way feigning incompetency,” according to the ruling.

Ketcham was a longtime doctor for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism missionary camp in Bangladesh. A report released in 2016 by ABWE says it confirmed he molested 18 children and five women there in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Many were the children of missionary parents.

But the missionary group initially covered it up, even after Ketcham admitted to “perverted sin” with Diana Durrill’s young sister, Kim James, starting when she was 12. He was in his 50s. He was never charged.

“He’s been able to dodge accountability and responsibility for a very long time,” Durrill said.

Instead, after being forced from the mission field, the doctor moved back to West Michigan and started practicing medicine in Allendale in 1989.

He was accused of molesting a local girl who was 4 or 5 in the late 1990s during a doctor’s visit at his office in Allendale, with her mom in the room. The girl first reported it in 2011, but the investigation went nowhere until the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department reopened it in response to a Target 8 report.

A judge ordered Ketcham, who lost his medical license in 2012, to stand trial in December 2016, but that was delayed to see if he was competent to stand trial.

gary smitherman

Baptist Children’s Pastor Gary Smitherman Convicted of Sexual Assault

Gary Smitherman, children’s pastor at  Friendship Baptist Church in Clanton, Alabama, was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

The Clanton Advertiser reports:

 Smitherman was convicted of one count of sexual abuse of a child under 12 on Aug. 3, a Class B felony.

“We are very happy with the sentence and glad this victim and her family can close this chapter and begin moving forward knowing this child predator will be staring at a prison cell for a long time,” said C.J. Robinson, the chief deputy district attorney for the 19th Circuit Judicial Office.

According to Robinson, trial testimony indicated that Smitherman was over the children’s ministry program at Friendship Baptist Church in Clanton and was tutoring a young female at his home with whom he had contact with through his position at the time with the church.

These tutoring sessions would last until late at night, and Smitherman began asking the victim to stay at his house overnight.

The offense that led to his arrest and conviction occurred in early 2017 at his home.

“He touched her inappropriately, and she told a member of her family,” Robinson said. “The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.”

timothy reddin

Baptist Pastor Timothy Reddin Arrested in Child Sex Sting

Timothy Reddin, pastor of Turner Street Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas, was arrested after he attempted to solicit an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old boy for sex. Previously, Reddin was convicted on child pornography charges and spent twenty-seven months in prison for his crimes.

Baptist News reports:

A former longtime Southern Baptist preacher whose ministry stalled 18 years ago when he went to prison for possessing child pornography is back in jail, this time for allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Timothy Lee Reddin, 67, was arrested Aug. 3 on a federal warrant for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. According to arrest documents, Reddin messaged an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent posing online as an underage male to arrange a meeting for sex.

….

In the past Reddin served Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas and Texas for three decades before pleading guilty in 2000 to possessing at least 10 illegal images, including one depiction of a child under 12.

Two years earlier he reportedly resigned as director of missions for Central Baptist Association in Benton, Arkansas, after two people found child pornography on a computer he used and confronted him over it.

Reddin went to prison for 27 months, after admitting to the sentencing judge that he had a weakness for child pornography but insisting would never actually molest a child. He blamed his porn addiction on sexual abuse he said he suffered at age 10 at the hands of an older boy.

Character witnesses including a fellow pastor argued for leniency, saying they believed Reddin felt remorse and was sincere about wanting to reform.

Fox-24 adds:

The undercover officer said he was on a website on July 27 in an unrelated undercover capacity when he received an unprovoked message from a website user with the profile name “Lee,” according to the affidavit

“Lee” described himself in his profile as a 62-year-old white male, 6’1″, 215 pounds and married. The profile description said, “I just wanna have fun…I like younger guys. But hell, at my age that’s just about everybody! Discreet, intelligent, witty, professional guy. Love to meet new friends. Especially naked ones,” according to the affidavit.

The undercover officer began interacting with Lee after receiving the initial message from him.

Lee began the conversation by saying “I like your hashtag! I’m no fan of our lying Pres.” He then complimented the undercover officer, saying “You are wise beyond your years. :)”

As the conversation went on, Lee said, “Yeah, a good looking 18 yr old will get hit on a lot.” The undercover officer said he wasn’t 18 and that he was on the website while his parents were out of town.

Lee asked the undercover officer for his age. The undercover officer said he was going to turn 15 in November and wanted to be around like-minded guys, to which Lee asked, “Gay I suppose?”

As the conversation continued, Lee asked the undercover officer if he had sex other than masturbation. He then went on to tell the undercover officer that many men on the website will want to have oral sex with him.

Lee later asked the undercover officer what kind of sexual activity he is looking for and what he is ready for. Lee suggested starting with oral sex and to then move onto other types of sex. He also recommended taking it a step at a time, saying “Gay pron will be your friend for a while. :)”

The undercover officer then tells Lee that he’s looking for someone he can trust to be his first. Lee responds, “If I weren’t such an old fart I’d volunteer! Lol.”

After the undercover officer said he doesn’t care about age, Lee said, “I could meet you. No pressure to do anything you decide not to.” (sic)

Lee then said “Here’s what I have to offer” and sent graphic images of male genitalia.

Lee offered to meet the undercover officer the next day for a burger and then go somewhere private so he can “coach” him on oral sex.

The undercover officer told Lee that he felt he could trust him then jokingly asked if he is going to kidnap or kill him.

“Actually, I’m an axe murderer…,” Lee said. He then added, “I’m a gentle guy really. I’m a college teacher and a businessman.”

The undercover officer told Lee he couldn’t meet the next day. He and Lee discussed meeting another time, and Lee gave the undercover officer his phone number after the officer asked how to find Lee on the website at a late time. Lee says, “Text, don’t call. My name’s Lee.”

The undercover officer said Lee contacted him another time and offered to give him pointers on having sex for the first time and offered to assist him with his first sexual experience. Lee then said, “I’ll never tell! I could go to jail!”

Sure sounds like Reddin “reformed,” eh? How about he went right back to his predatory ways,because that’s what sexual predators do. Jesus can’t fix pedophiles, so it is up to the state to make sure the Reddins of the world do NOT have access to children.

pastor jimmy orick

IFB Pastor Jimmy Orick Pleads Guilty to Rape

You can read my previous report on JImmy Orick here.

Jimmy Orick, pastor of Mountain View Independent Baptist Church in LaFollette, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to rape and attempted rape, According to the LaFollette Press, Orick has sex with a minor girl in his home.

robert browning

Baptist Christian School Teacher Robert Browning Accused of Sexually Assaulting Student

Robert Browning, a teacher at a Christian school run by Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Jacksonville,Florida, was arrested on charges of sexual battery, molestation and transmitting pornographic images to a girl under the age of 16.

News-4 reports:

He was a very good teacher and you would never know,” said Sally Blaney, whose children attend the Christian school run by Cedar Creek. “That person was old enough to know better and he should have never gone there.”

After the story of Browning’s arrest aired Tuesday, News4Jax received an anonymous tip that Browning had previously worked as a youth pastor at Old Plank Baptist Church and Christian Academy. The tipster, a mother of a child who attended youth services at Old Plank Road Baptist with Browning, was concerned that there could be other child victims who haven’t come forward.

Old Plank Baptist’s worship leader, who is also the school’s principal, reluctantly confirmed Browning had worked there, but had no other comment.

The mother who called described Browning as being overly friendly with children when he worked there six years ago.

“We’re very concerned,” she said. “I always had that guy feeling, ‘Do I let her go on trips with the church?’ He was just, I thought, a little too close to the kids.”

She is worried there could be more victims than the one teenager he was accused of having sex with at Cedar Creek’s school. She’s even concerned he could have had inappropriate contact with her daughter.

….

School officials with Cedar Creek said they were told by Browning that he was that let go from Old Plank Baptist because of a dispute with faculty.

Browning had a clean record before his arrest Saturday. Cedar Creek officials said they conducted extensive background checks on Browning before he was hired, and he passed with no problems.

An earlier News-4 report adds:

The victim’s father said he discovered the inappropriate relationship when he checked his daughter’s cellphone and found she and Browning were exchanging nude photos and lewd text messages.

“I found everything,” the father said.

According to the arrest report, the girl said she performed consensual oral sex on Browning at the church while he touched her inappropriately. Investigators found text messages between Browning and the girl about the incident.

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

According to his arrest report, Browning turned himself in to police Saturday and has retained a lawyer.

Pastor John Montgomery of Cedar Creek Baptist said the school took swift and immediate action, terminating Browning immediately.

Montgomery said Browning, like all employees, was fingerprinted and checked with the FBI when he was hired six years ago.

“Of all people, I would have never ever thought that something like that could have happened,” Montgomery said. “We live in a fallen world, and people do things that absolutely shock you.”

In addition to terminating Browning and trying to support the victim’s family, Montgomery said the church was also increasing security and adding more surveillance cameras “to make sure this can’t happen again.”

The father said this is having a devastating effect on his relationship with his daughter.

“It’s torn my family apart. My daughter doesn’t want to speak to me anymore,” the man told News4Jax. “I’m actually glad this is getting out because this is so sick and people really need to pay attention to who they’re hiring and who their kids are with. We live in a sick world.”

Off My Knees: A Victim Remembers

colin kaepernick

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Two years ago, Colin Kaepernick did something that garnered far more attention than any game he played or pass he threw.

Those who disapproved of his gesture said he “refused to stand” during the National Anthem. On the other hand, those who approved, or simply supported his right to do so, said he “knelt” or “took to his knee.”

My response? “Well, at least he was on only one knee.”

From that position, he could leap up and run, if he needed to. Even though he’s a professional athlete, if he were on both knees, he’d have a hard time springing up and darting away.

That, of course, begs the question of why he would need to do such a thing. As an NFL quarterback who was, arguably, one of the best at his position for a couple of years, he almost certainly has the strength to fight off a would-be attacker, as well as the speed to run—and the reflexes to do either, or both.

Still, I was relieved not to see him on both knees for the same reason that, to this day, I cannot bear to see people in such a prone position — and why I never kneel.

The last time (that I recall, anyway) I knelt for any period of time was also the last time I had to see someone I love kneeling.

Even though she had to genuflect for only a moment, and I knelt only for a few more, I could barely keep myself from screaming. I couldn’t keep myself from crying the rest of that day.

It was an unusually hot day for May and, in spite of the air conditioning, everything seemed to be happening in the kind of haze that precedes storms and terrible, violent acts.

On the side of the aisle opposite from where I sat, a line of boys stood in their dark suits, almost none of which fit. On the side nearest me were a line of girls in loose white dresses that, on some, looked like oversized doll costumes.

They took one step down the aisle and stopped—except for the boy and girl at the front. It took them three or four steps to reach the altar. The boy, and the girl, knelt. The scream started to roil inside me.

The boy and girl turned their heads up. The priest mouthed the words. Even though I couldn’t hear him, I knew what they were: “Body of Christ.”

The boy whispered, “Amen,” and the priest placed a small round wafer in his mouth. He repeated this ritual with the girl. Then with the next boy and girl who came to the altar, and the ones after.

Some people made the sign of the cross for each kid receiving his or first communion. Others held their hands as in prayer. I cupped my hands in my best imitation of Durer’s sculpture—over my mouth. It was all I could do to keep the howl, the curses, I’d held from my childhood to that moment in my middle age.

Then she and another boy knelt in front of the priest. I nearly bolted out of that church. The reason I didn’t:  My family, her family and all of their friends would be upset and demanded an explanation I couldn’t give them.

Truth is, even if I could’ve given it, I wouldn’t have. The words would not come until a few days later, after we had all gone back to our homes, some of us far away.

At that moment, I was never as afraid for anyone’s safety as I was for that girl — my niece — and the boy, whom I never knew, kneeling next to her. I had never seen the priest, either, before that day, and would never see him again. But I simply could not bear to see my niece, or that boy, kneeling — vulnerable — in front of him.

Even though her face wasn’t between his knees.

She and the boy rose to their feet, crossed themselves and walked back to the pews. Even though the priest did nothing to harm her — or him — I felt as if I had failed . . . to protect them . . . to save them . . . to protect and save myself.

After the mass, we all went to my brother’s house. Spreads of salads, sandwiches, chicken wings and breasts, burgers and other foods filled the tables and counters.  I excused myself to go “to the bathroom” but snuck out the back door and across the yard into the woods, where I let out a long, howling wail and cursed out someone I hadn’t seen, or even thought about, since I was a child. Like my niece. Like that boy.

A few days later, my then-partner was talking about a wedding we would attend a few weeks later. In a church, of course. My partner — an atheist — noticed anger and bile rising through my face when she mentioned “church.”

“Hypocrites and pedophiles,” I grunted.

“What are you talking about?”

Then, as if — for lack of a better word — possessed, I sprang to my feet, stared past her, past everything and everyone and hissed, “Get your fucking hands off me, you motherfucker. God let you do it to me. But this time, I won’t.”

At least she knew I wasn’t talking to her — and that I wouldn’t attack her — which is probably the one and only time I can recall that she seemed not to know what to do.

Or maybe she did. Nothing. She did nothing. And I talked, for the first time, about the way a priest in my parish got me to kneel — between his legs.

I’ve talked about it only with a few other people since then. But I still haven’t gotten down on my knees — not for God, country or anything else.

How Evangelicals Use the Bible to Justify Their Support of People Accused of Sexual Assault

trump stands up for accused men

If I have learned anything over the past few years is that Evangelicals have sold their souls to the Devil in exchange for political power and a handful of culture war trinkets. Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearing made it clear that many Evangelicals have no problem with men who sexually assault women as long as those men can be used to advance their theocratic agenda. We should have expected this. After all, baby-Christian Donald Trump said:

I moved on her [Nancy O’Dell], and I failed. I’ll admit it.

I did try and fuck her. She was married.

And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture—I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her [Arianne Zucker]. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything

And eighty-one percent of voting Evangelicals STILL elected the man to the highest office in the land. If Evangelicals are willing to ignore Trump’s vile behavior, is it any surprise they support Brett Kavanaugh — despite his lies about his high school and college drinking habits and sexual proclivities? Think, for a moment, of all the Evangelicals who have come to this site to defend their pastors when I post a Black Collar Crime story about his alleged criminal behavior. Victims are called liars, whores, seductresses, Jezebels, and the like. This is not surprising. Evangelicalism is built on a complementarian foundation. Women and teen girls are expected to gatekeepers, covering themselves up lest weak, horny, uncontrollable Evangelical horn-dog males take sexual advantage of them. If they fail to do so? It’s their fault.

Think I am overplaying my hand? Consider this comment on an Evangelical forum:

was ford a virgin

I guarantee you countless Evangelical men and women have had similar thoughts. Evidently, prior sexual history or poor judgment is justification for ignoring allegations of sexual assault. In their minds, the whore got was coming to her. Don’t want to be raped, don’t drink or don’t go into rooms alone with boys. In other words, it’s the victim’s fault. It is ALWAYS her fault, to some degree or the other. To this day, some of Jack Schaap’s supporters believe the teen girl he sexually assaulted came on to him. She seduced him, they say. It matters not that he was old enough to be the girl’s father and was her pastor/counselor. In the minds of his defenders, if the victim hadn’t been a Jezebel, why Schaap would still be CEO of the Hyles Empire — First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana and Hyles-Anderson College.

Evangelicals say they are “people of THE Book,” people who believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, and infallible text. In their minds, if they can find a proof text for their abhorrent beliefs, all is well. I have heard Evangelicals use several proof texts to justify their support Roman Catholic Brett Kavanuagh. That they support a Catholic is astounding enough. Before the culture war fomented by Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich in the late 1970s, Evangelicals considered Roman Catholicism a cult. Many Evangelicals believed the Catholic church was the Great Whore of Babylon mentioned in Revelation 17.  Evidently, if it means overturning Roe v. Wade — Evangelicalism’s golden calf — Evangelicals are willing sacrifice their beliefs on the altar of political expediency.

Today, I received an email from an Evangelical man who said:

The absurdity of the Billy Graham rule? Apparently you haven’t read the bible :

Genesis 39:1-20

Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph ..He refuses her advances and runs from her. .Furious, she takes her revenge by accusing him of attempted rape.

In Genesis 39:1-20, Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. He refuses her advances and runs from her. .Furious, she takes her revenge by accusing him of attempted rape.

While the email writer was addressing the Billy Graham Rule, I am sure his words could apply to Brett Kavanaugh too. In Genesis 39:1-20, we have a fanciful story about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife.  According to the Good Book®, the wife of a captain in Pharaoh’s guard had the hots for Joseph:

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

According to Evangelicals, Brett Kavanaugh, much like Joseph, was falsely accused of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh’s supporters believe there was no evidence to support Blasey-Ford’s claims (or that of two other women), thus he is innocent of all charges. Wait a minute, where’s the evidence for Joseph’s claims? The account in Genesis 39 was written centuries later. Its author was writing a story that had been passed down from generation to generation. No witnesses were brought forth to prove Joseph’s accusations? Why do Evangelicals accept this story as true? Oh, I know, it’s in the B-i-b-l-e. Evidently, living witnesses, yearbook statements, and the like don’t count, but words in an ancient religious text do.

The greater lesson, of course, is that Christian men should never, ever be alone in a room with a woman who are not their wives. Whores such as Ford lurk in the shadows waiting to seduce all who come their way. Isn’t that what is alluded to in Proverbs 7:

For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her [the harlot] corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

Another Bible claim made is that all accusations must be established in the mouth of two or three witness, especially those levied against pastors (and, I assume, Supreme Court justices and presidents). He said, she said allegations are to be rejected out of hand; well, unless the person in question is Democrat, as in the case of former president Bill Clinton. Here’s what the Bible says on the matter:

If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-6)

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

I have written several times about how these verses and others are used to insulate Evangelical church leaders from sexual misconduct allegations. (Please read If You Didn’t See it, It Didn’t Happen and Sexual Abuse and the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen)

stoning of blasey ford

Finally, Evangelicals use what I call the “She Didn’t Cry Out” defense. Deuteronomy 22:22-24 says:

 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

If the woman had cried out then only her attacker would be executed. Because she didn’t, she too was stoned to death! Of course, Evangelicals pick and choose what they want to believe. This same chapter says:

  • Women shouldn’t wear men’s clothing (vs. 5)
  • Farmers shouldn’t use both John Deere and Case tractors (vs. 10)
  • Men shouldn’t wear cotton/polyester blend shirts (vs. 11)
  • If a man marries a woman, only to find out she isn’t a virgin, he is free to divorce her. If her parents can’t prove their daughter is a virgin, she is to be executed.  (vs. 13-21)
  • If a man sexually assaults a betrothed woman in the country, only he is executed (vs. 25-27)
  • If a man has sex with a virgin in the country and they are discovered, he shall pay the woman’s parents money and marry her.  (vs. 28, 29)

Ford and other Kavanaugh accusers shouldn’t be believed because they never CRIED OUT when the alleged assaults occurred. I am sure these very same defenders of Kavanaugh and Trump believe Bill Cosby got a raw deal. His accusers never said a word when he drugged them and took sexual advantage of them. NO Cry, NO Crime, say the bumper stickers on their cars.

The aforementioned verses are a poignant reminder of why Christians and atheists alike must tirelessly oppose the establishment of Evangelical Sharia Law in the United States. Let theocrats have their way, and there will come a day when abortion doctors and women who had abortions will be charged with murder — a crime punishable by death. And who will theocrats thank? Their patron saints Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. Historians will look back to 2018 as the year when Evangelicals cast away any pretense of ethics and morality, choosing instead of re-victimize millions of women (and men) who have been sexually assaulted, raped, or otherwise sexually violated. Isn’t that exactly what they have done for decades with their insistence that raped/pregnant girls/teens/women carry their fetuses to term? They showed everyone the callousness of their hearts, so we shouldn’t now be surprised with their allegiance to and support of powerful men who commit sexual crimes or otherwise behave in abhorrent ways.

Jesus wept.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Black Collar Crime: IFB Sunday School Teacher and Accused Rapist Jonathan Young Has Bond Reduced

jonathan young

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, I reported that Jonathan Young, a Sunday school teacher at Firstborn Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — in Benson, North Carolina was accused of raping several church girls.  WRAL-5 reported that Young had been charged with ” six charges of first-degree rape of a child, three charges of statutory rape, two charges of first-degree sexual offense and two charges of indecent liberties with a child.” The charges against Young covered alleged crimes committed between 2004 and 2014.

Since then, former church members Cherith Roberson and Beka Faust accused Firstborn Baptist leadership of operating a cult. WRAL reported:

It began with the arrest of a Sunday school teacher on 13 charges of sexually assaulting children earlier this month.

Now, investigators with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office are speaking with more people who have come forward to say they too were molested or abused in other ways at the church.

Some of those same people have reached out to WRAL News, saying they will no longer be silent.

Not unlike the opaque windows of the Firstborn Baptist Church in Benson that let in very little light, seven former members tell us there is a dark climate within those church walls.

“There’s this culture of fear and you have to obey the ultimate leader and authority,” said Cherith Roberson, 32, a former church member. “And it starts from the beginning.”

Roberson’s family joined when she was 7 years old.

“It was taught, it was preached about, that you break a child’s spirit. And you do that by whatever means necessary,” she said.

Her little sister, Beka Foust, was just 5 years old.

“I knew this was not normal,” Foust said. “I didn’t know what normal was.”

The sisters said all the children attended school at church. They said they were told what to wear, what to believe, and were not allowed contact with anyone on the outside.

“You were ostracized from everybody else,” Foust said.

And they said there were serious consequences for breaking rules.

“They would put me in the closet with a light out and I would just sit there all day,” Foust said. “I was allowed to eat once.”

“There was a lot of physical and emotional abuse that went way beyond spanking,” Roberson said. “From spanking, to beating, there was a huge paddle in the church school that I attended.”

They said church members were publicly humiliated from the pulpit and children were beaten so others could hear their screams.

Sadly, nothing surprising here. Typical cultic behavior by IFB preachers who use the Bible to abuse congregants and force them to “obey” the church’s interpretation of its words.

In September, Young’s bond was reduced from $1 million to $400,000. The church denies any and all accusations levied against Young and church leaders.

Black Collar Crime: Mennonite Missionary James Arbaugh Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes

james arbaugh

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 December 2017, I wrote about James Arbaugh, a Mennonite missionary in Haiti, who had been charged with “grooming and/or having sexual contact with approximately 21 males under the age of 18.” Arbaugh attended Mountain View Mennonite Church in Lyndhurst, Virginia.

At the time, The Mennonite reported:

James Daniel Arbaugh, a Mennonite missionary, has been arrested and charged with molesting children while serving in Haiti. On Nov. 21, The Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia, reported that Arbaugh was arrested on Nov. 15 by a U.S. Homeland Security special agent. Court records show that Arbaugh, 40, was charged with felony coercion or enticement of a minor. Arbaugh attended Mountain View Mennonite Church in Lyndhurst, Virginia, a former Mennonite Church USA congregation, and was a board member for Walking Together for Christ Haiti.

The criminal complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, states that “Arbaugh reported grooming and/or having sexual contact with approximately 21 males under the age of 18.” Arbaugh disclosed the abuse to a counselor during a Sept. 11 session. In Virginia, health-care providers are mandated to report child abuse to social services. According to the Daily News-Record, social services contacted the Harrisonburg Police Department, who then contacted federal agents.

Arbaugh traveled to Haiti from 2009 to 2015. According to a website where he documented his mission work, Arbaugh was a self-supporting “tentmaker” partnering with Walking Together for Christ in Haiti and involved in “media ministry.” The last post on the site is from July 2.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 15, Arbaugh allowed police to look at his laptop and showed police a picture of a 5-year-old boy, the son of a pastor at a church in Haiti, on the computer. The complaint states that Arbaugh confessed to molesting the boy.

The complaint states, “Arbaugh indicated he used his missionary work in Haiti to build friendships with the minors. Arbaugh acknowledged that he groomed the minors in Haiti by engaging in minor sexual activities with them so that one day they would be open to more.”

….

According to Lynn Suter, VMMissions Director of Operations and International Ministries, VMMissions has not partnered with Walking Together since its incorporation in 2015. Prior to that time, Suter says, VMMissions was engaged in intermittent work in Haiti and sent six short-term missions teams from 2003-2010. VMMissions is reviewing its records to determine the extent of its connections to Arbaugh. VMMissions has not found record of James Arbaugh having been employed as a missionary by VMMissions. VMMissions is calling on individuals with information about Arbaugh’s connections to the organization to contact Suter (lynn.suter@vmmissions.org). According to Suter, VMMissions and the Walking Together board will work to contact individuals in Haiti that Arbaugh may have been connected to.

Suter says that VMMissions first learned in September that Arbaugh had returned to the United States to receive professional counseling for unnamed “sexual sins.” VMMissions was told that Arbaugh was aware that if he divulged anything about his behavior that was illegal, the counselor would be legally required to report it to the authorities. VMMissions did not learn more about Arbaugh’s behavior until the Daily News-Record article was published on Nov. 21. VMMissions does not have information regarding the time frame when Arbaugh’s misconduct occurred.

“VMMissions strongly condemns the abuse Mr. Arbaugh has confessed and is alleged to have committed. We are heartsick for the victims and for the grievous misrepresentation of Christ and his church by someone who should have been trustworthy,” wrote Suter in a Nov. 30 email.

Suter says that VMMissions has procedures both to assess the fitness and conduct of individuals who apply for service with VMMissions, including criminal background checks.

“The revelation of Mr. Arbaugh’s conduct compels us to more closely examine the character and conduct of persons who are not appointed or employed with us but with whom we associate on the field and their own systems of accountability,” she wrote.

….

Arbaugh later pleaded guilty and in July was sentenced to twenty-three years in federal prison.

Fox News reported:

Brian Benczkowski, who leads the Justice Department’s criminal division, described Arbaugh as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“He posed as a selfless missionary when in reality he was exploiting his position to prey on and sexually abuse vulnerable children in one of the most impoverished areas of the world,” Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general, said in a news release.

Arbaugh was arrested last year after telling a Virginia counselor that he had sexual contact with minors in Haiti. A federal affidavit filed by a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations said he told investigators that he groomed or had sexual contact with at least 21 Haitian boys.

The sentencing of Arbaugh comes months after Daniel Pye of Arkansas, a missionary who operated a well-known orphanage in the scenic coastal town of Jacmel, received a 40-year sentence in the U.S. for sexually abusing vulnerable Haitian youngsters in his care.

Haitian child advocate Gertrude Sejour said foreign church groups who fund the work of missionaries in Haiti need to do a far better job ensuring that they’re not working with sexual predators or shipping them overseas.

“There’s far too many children being abused,” said Sejour, of the Haitian advocacy group Maurice Sixto Foundation.

Brian Concannon, executive director of the Boston-based advocacy group Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said Arbaugh’s sentence sends a strong message but would be more powerful if more people were getting prosecuted.

“I think it’s clear that there’s a lot more abuse happening that isn’t being prosecuted,” Concannon said in a phone interview.

Arbaugh worked as a missionary with a group called Walking Together for Christ Haiti and described himself on a personal blog as an evangelist and religious film producer. Attempts to reach his lawyer were unsuccessful.