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Tag: Sexual Assault

Updated: Black Collar Crime: Youth Pastor Jesse Vargas Sentenced to Prison for Sexually Abusing Teen Girl

pastor jesse vargas

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 Vargas, a youth pastor who worked at The Incredible Journey to Christianity retreat in Michigan, was accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl.

In March 2021, the St. Louis Dispatch reported:

A New York youth pastor charged with the sexual assault of a teenage girl in Hazelwood met the teen at a Christian retreat in Michigan before he was invited to stay with the girl’s family, Hazelwood police said Tuesday.

Jesse Vargas, 37, of Nassau County, New York, was a youth pastor who worked at The Incredible Journey to Christianity retreat in Michigan where he met the teen, Hazelwood police Capt. Mark McKeon said. Hazelwood police began investigating reports in December that Vargas repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl in January 2013 while he was staying with her family.

Vargas was charged in St. Louis County in February with five counts of statutory sodomy. He was arrested in New York on Friday where he is also facing charges that include sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He’s accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl at his home there. Police would not say if it was the same teen who reported the assault in Hazelwood.

In November 2021, Fox-2 reported:

Explicit text messages from an old iPhone show the lengths to which a youth pastor allegedly groomed a juvenile for years before he allegedly sexually assaulted her, Hazelwood Police said. That pastor now faces several state and federal charges and authorities believe there could be more victims.

“No matter how careful the parents are – the kids need to be educated on the types of techniques used by the predators,” Hazelwood Police DARE Officer Ed Novak said.

The alleged victim, who is now an adult, said she met youth pastor Jesse Vargas at a church retreat in Michigan. Vargas had lived in Long Island, New York.

She was 11 at the time. He was 25.

“He was actually the one at the registration table, the very first day that I went in. So I was 11, and I was in this new place full of strangers,” she said. “He was the first person to give me my nametag and make me feel comfortable. He was one of the spiritual leaders of the entire camp.”

FOX 2 is not naming the woman to protect her identity.

The woman, who is now 25, grew up in Hazelwood. She said she visited the camp twice a year. It was when she turned 13 that she said Vargas initiated more direct contact.

“After camp in 2011, he asked for my phone number and asked to take a photo of me. And he took that, and immediately started a friendly conversation,” she said.

She said the friendly conversations over texts were innocuous at first. Vargas, she said, insisted that he help guide her on her spiritual journey.

He began to text her, send her seemingly innocent tokens of affection, including a mix CD, a journal, and other items. Vargas’ wife had even sewn a dress for her.

But the subtle messages began to build into something dangerous over time, she said.

“He would talk to me about his work concerns, his marital concerns, his personal history, and also go on and on how well he wanted to treat me, and how he wanted to come there and buy me my favorite snacks,” she said. “And he wanted to transfer to St. Louis so he could take me out to lunch once I went to high school.”

The two became closer and while the alleged victim had concerns, she said she would ultimately trust Vargas, an authority figure.

Vargas, she said, even earned the trust of her family, even visiting and staying with them on more than one occasion.

Her first sexual contact with him happened when she was 15, she said.

“Inappropriate touching. Sexual stimulation. Oral sex, in my parents’ basement. He would come and stay with my family, he had earned their trust as well. But in the middle of the night, in my parent’s house, is where this would occur,” she said.

The methodically placed gifts, affection, and abuse continued. The alleged victim’s said her family was unaware of what was happening and that her parents allowed her to visit Vargas and his wife in New York.

The woman said she eventually broke off contact and lived with the secrets for years. It wasn’t until 2020—seven years after the initial relationship—that she came forward. She said a family member of Vargas—someone who she had never met—messaged her, saying she learned of what had been happened. She said the family member apologized to her for what Vargas had done.

That was when the woman, now 25, said she wanted to break her silence.

“I contacted Hazelwood Police,” she said.

She was aware that her case would be hard to prove, given that the alleged incidents took place seven years after the fact.

But two pieces of evidence helped bring charges against Vargas: an old iMac and an iPhone 5.

She still had possession of the old iPhone, which had the social app Kik on it. Vargas had instructed her to use the encrypted messaging system to communicate during the relationship.

“Even though it was encrypted and isn’t hosted online, it was still sitting there on my phone. The pages of conversation that we had had were right there waiting for the phone to turn on,” she said.

Hazelwood Police and the FBI were able to recover the texts. There were dozens of pages of evidence, revealing Vargas’ years-long efforts to groom his victim, police said.

“There were able to pull my phone backups off of that. Even though pretty early on in the grooming, he had instructed me to stop backing up my phone to that computer…we still had everything up to that point,” the woman said.

Vargas pleaded guilty in March 2022. Yesterday, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his crimes.

The United States Department of Justice reports:

U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White on Thursday sentenced a former youth pastor from New York to 13 years and four months in prison for the sexual abuse of a Missouri 15-year-old in 2013.

Judge White also ordered Jesse E. Vargas, 38, to pay $146,594 in restitution to his victim.

Vargas originally met the then 11-year-old girl at a religious camp in Michigan where he worked.

“Over the course of the next four years Jesse played with my family and I like frogs in a pot,” the victim said in court during Thursday’s hearing. “Slowly increasing the temperature of his manipulation until we each were unaware of the water we had been submerged in, let alone its suddenly scalding temperature. By age thirteen I abandoned most of my spiritual leaders and friendships at his suggestion. By fourteen he even guided me to push away my two closest friends,” she said.

In January of 2013, Vargas traveled from New York to the St. Louis area home of the teen. He stayed in her family’s house and preached a sermon at her church. During the visit, he also sexually abused her.

“I was assured by him throughout my formative young teenage years that ‘The World’ wouldn’t understand the illicit affair of ours he was suggesting, but God had provided us a path that we should follow together in secret. Tell no one. Trust no one else,” the victim said.

He returned in March of 2013 and abused her again. In June of that year, he arranged for her to travel to New York, where he abused her again. He exchanged images and videos containing nude images with the teen via social media apps and text messages.

The victim also spoke about the effects of Vargas’ abuse, including PTSD.  “As a lifelong honors student with high career hopes entering high school, I instead dropped out because I was simply too exhausted to care about anything.”

Vargas, of Nassau County, pleaded guilty March 22 to two felony counts: travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact and coercion and enticement of a minor.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Hazelwood Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson prosecuted the case.

“The way Jesse Vargas used the guise of spiritual instruction is repugnant. He manipulated not only his victim, but the adults who tried to protect her,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Dargis of the FBI St. Louis Division. “I commend the victim’s bravery for coming forward, in spite of having to relive her trauma, to prevent others from becoming a victim.”  

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Reynaldo Cruz Crespin Sentenced to Prison for Repeatedly Sexually Assaulting His Daughter

reynaldo crispen

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.

Reynaldo Crispen, pastor of New Horizon Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a school teacher, pleaded guilty to lewdness with a child charges and was sentenced to six to fifteen years in prison.

Earlier this year, Channel 3 reported:

A man who was a Las Vegas schoolteacher and pastor is wanted on suspicion of multiple sex crimes, according to authorities.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Reynaldo Crespin, 59, on 10 counts involving sex assault against a child, lewdness with a child and open and gross lewdness, court records indicate.

Channel 3 also reported:

Las Vegas Metro Police want you to be on the lookout for this man: 59-year-old Reynaldo Crespin.

There’s a warrant for his arrest for nine felony charges, including lewdness with a child and sexual assault against a child.

….

Court documents say police went in there [the church] last Wednesday with a search warrant.

Sunday services have been canceled. And officials posted this letter that reads: “Crespin committed acts of domestic violence, stalking, or aggravated stalking against his wife and minors. Also, Crespin’s daughter allegedly disclosed her father had been inappropriately touching her over the past several years.”

When I went to the church this afternoon, Crespin wasn’t there, but this lady who wouldn’t identify herself was.

“The family would like respect. If you have any respect, we ask that you leave,” said the unidentified woman.

“We didn’t know this was the family’s home. Is this not the church?” asked News 3 Reporter Kay Dimanche.

“It does not matter,” said the unidentified woman before slamming the church door shut.

In addition to being a preacher, police say Crespin was a CCSD teacher.

new horizon christian church las vegas
Found on Crispen’s church’s Facebook page. Evidently, Crispen had a clean Bible.

Crespin was later located and arrested. In May 2022, Crispen pleaded guilty to attempted lewdness with a child. Last Monday, he was sentenced to six to fifteen years in prison. Astoundingly, Crispen’s lawyer asked for probation.

The Midland Daily News reports:

A former Las Vegas elementary school teacher and church pastor has been sentenced to six to 15 years in prison and lifetime supervision as a sex offender after pleading guilty to a child sex crime.

Reynaldo Cruz Crespin, 59, apologized Monday before a Clark County District Court judge who rejected his lawyer’s request for probation.

If there was a case that warranted punishment, I believe this is that case,” Judge Kathleen Delaney said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

….

Crespin was arrested in February in Albuquerque, New Mexico, more than a week after he was named in a warrant in Las Vegas on multiple charges including sexual assault involving children.

All but one lesser charge were dismissed when Crespin avoided trial and pleaded guilty in May to attempted lewdness with a child under 14.

KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported that Crespin taught second grade from 2016 until this year and was a pastor at New Horizon Christian Church in northeast Las Vegas. The television station said none of the charges related to his students.

The Review-Journal reported that Crespin and his wife founded the church in 2002. His wife sued in February to take custody of their children.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Jordan Huffman Accused of Sexually Assaulting Church Teenager

jordan huffman

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.

Jordan Huffman, a former youth pastor at Woodlands Church in Plover, Wisconsin, stands accused of sexually assaulting a church teenager. The sexual assaults began when the boy was twelve. Huffman also worked for Forest Lakes District Evangelical Free Church of America in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

The Stevens Point Journal reports:

Jordan Ross Huffman, 51, who is living in Satellite Beach, Florida, faces charges of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of repeated sexual assault of a child, three counts of child enticement, one count of causing a child to view sexual activity and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

The Portage County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Huffman on Aug. 5, and Portage County Circuit Judge Louis Molepske Jr. issued a warrant for him on Monday.

The Brevard County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office online records state officers arrested Huffman Tuesday. On Wednesday, Attorney Andrea Winder, of Madison, notified the court that she is Huffman’s lawyer. 

According to the criminal complaint, in 2017, a couple approached Huffman, who at the time was a pastor at Woodlands Church in Plover, and asked him to mentor their 12-year-old son. The boy had started drinking and getting into trouble.

The boy told police instead of helping him, Huffman did just the opposite, according to the complaint. Huffman gave the boy alcohol, marijuana and prescription pills, according to the complaint. The boy said Huffman would drive him to a remote location at the end of a dirt road, after the boy was drunk or under the influence of marijuana, and inappropriately touch the boy with his mouth or hands, according to the complaint.  

The boy said the encounters happened multiple times. He said nothing happened at Woodlands Church, other than Huffman telling the boy he had alcohol, marijuana or nicotine cartridges for him, according to the complaint. He said Huffman had sexual intercourse with him one time at Huffman’s home while his wife and children were gone. 

When Huffman left Woodlands Church and took a job with Forest Lakes District Evangelical Free Church of America in Stevens Point, several encounters occurred in Huffman’s office there, according to the complaint. 

The boy told police he let Huffman do these things because Huffman was his mentor and because he was drunk or high, according to the complaint. When the boy got older, he told Huffman he didn’t want to have sexual contact with him anymore, and Huffman respected the request. About six months later, Huffman told the boy he no longer wanted to hang out with him, according to the complaint. 

If convicted of the charges, Huffman faces a maximum of 221 years and 9 months in prison. 

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why Do Evangelical Preachers Tend to Sexually Assault Girls Instead of Boys?

jack schaap
Jack Schaap, an IFB pastor who served twelve years in prison for repeatedly sexually assaulting a church teen he was counseling

I am talking with a man about being on his podcast later this year. The focus of his podcast is the sexual abuse of boys. As we were talking, it dawned on me that the overwhelming majority of predatory Evangelical preachers prey on girls, teen girls, and older females. In the Catholic church, pedophile priests tend to go after boys, but in the Evangelical and IFB churches, the focus is on females. Why is that?

In Evangelical churches, homosexuality is considered perversion, the sin above all sins. Further, many Evangelicals believe that most child molesters are homosexuals. Does this aversion toward homosexuality ward preachers off from molesting boys? Or is it, as my counselor suggested today, that boys are less likely to talk about being molested due to their church’s hatred of all things LGBTQ? Or is it a combination of things?

What are your thoughts on this subject? I do want to hear from you. I am also looking to talk to Evangelical men who were molested by preachers and other church leaders as children or teenagers. If you know someone who would be willing to talk with me or share their story, please contact me via email.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor John Lowe II Sexually Assaulted Church Teen, Calls His Criminal Behavior “Adultery”

pastor john lowe II

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 Lowe II, the pastor of New Life Christian Church & World Outreach in Warsaw, Indiana, recently stood before his church and admitted that he committed adultery twenty years ago. After Lowe’s “confession,” his victim, Bobi Gephart, and her husband stood before the church and told them the truth about what happened between Gephart and Lowe. First, Gephart was SIXTEEN when Lowe had sex with her. Sex with a minor is sexual abuse, not “adultery.” Lowe used his position of authority to take advantage of a vulnerable church teenager and did so on multiple occasions.

The Daily Mail reports:

Pastor John Lowe II stepped down from the New Life Christian Church after being confronted on stage by Bobi Gephart, a 43-year-old woman who came forward with a microphone to tell their church in Warsaw, Indiana, how he’d groomed her as a teen, starting when she was 16 – the legal age of consent in the state.

Pastor Lowe II had just told the church that he ‘sinned’ 20 years ago by committing adultery, without mentioning how old the woman or girl was at the time. 

He begged for the church’s forgiveness, then received a standing ovation. 

Bobi then stormed towards the stage with her husband, Nate, to say it ‘was not just adultery’ because she was so young at the time. 

‘For 27 years I lived in a prison… I lived in a prison of lies and shame. Lying to protect the Lowe family. For years I thought I was a horrible person, having suicidal thoughts and not realizing what had been truly done to me.

‘I would still be in a prison if my brother had not just approached me two weeks ago with what he had seen as a teenager that bothered him all these years: his pastor in bed with his younger sister.’ 

Turning to Lowe, she continued: ‘I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that? I know you do.

‘You did things to my teenage body that should have never been done. If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.’ 

Bobi’s husband Nate then added: ‘This is a lie. This is not just adultery. 

‘It’s another level. It happened for nine years. When she was 15, 16, the grooming started.’ 

He presented a pearl necklace that his wife had been given by the church and a ‘purity ring’ that he said the pastor gave her during their affair. 

Nate returned both items and said the pair ‘were not stretching the truth’, but encouraged other women who had been these ‘gifts of the ministry’ to return them too.  

As the couple left the stage, the pastor then faced angry calls from the congregation. 

‘If you did it you need to admit it!’ said one angry church-goer. 

Another yelled: ‘We need to hear from our pastor!’ A third then cried out: ‘Give him the microphone!’ 

Lowe returned to the stage. 

At first he said: ‘I told you I committed adultery and that it went on far too long.’ 

A member of the congregation then shouted out: ‘You didn’t tell us she was 16!’ 

He then relented: ‘It was wrong. I can’t make it right. I can’t make it better. That’s just the way it is. 

‘It’s not all true but it did happen, yes.’ 

Because the legal age of consent in Indiana is 16, Lowe is not likely to face criminal charges for the relationship. 

He has stepped down from the church and has been scrubbed from its website. 

In a statement, the church said: ‘This long-held secret first came to light when a woman in the church came forward and disclosed the relationship to various people within the church. 

‘When confronted by others in church leadership concerning that report, Pastor Lowe confessed privately that the adultery did, in fact, occur.

Please watch the video below to see Lowe’s “confession,” and Gephart’s brave confrontation of the man who robbed her of her innocence.

Video Link

New Life released a statement. That’s what churches do. Make of it what you will. Note the statement does not use the term “sexual assault.” Also note how it paints Lowe as a “good man, gone wrong.” And does anyone seriously believe that no one over the past twenty years knew about Lowe’s assault of Bobi Gephart? Not one person? I see a lot of whitewashing and ass protecting going on in the church’s statement, couched in religious words meant to hide the fact that they had a sexual predator in their midst. Further, it is incumbent on the church to make clear exactly what Lowe’s wife knew, and when. And finally, New Life should immediately discipline Lowe, kicking him out of the church. His criminal behavior, prosecuted or not, should be widely publicized so Lowe never has another opportunity to pastor. And it should go without saying, the church must, without delay, make a confession of its own to law enforcement.

On Sunday, May 22, 2022, Pastor John B. Lowe II addressed the congregation of New Life Christian Church & World Outreach (“New Life”) at the conclusion of morning worship service and confessed that he had committed adultery on several occasions and over the course of time many years ago. When Pastor Lowe offered his confession, he also announced that he would be stepping down from his ministerial role and responsibilities with New Life.

This long-held secret first came to light when a woman in the church came forward and disclosed the relationship to various people within the church. When confronted by others in church leadership concerning that report, Pastor Lowe confessed privately that the adultery did, in fact, occur. The woman in question and her family did attend together and addressed the congregation, indicating that improper sexual conduct first occurred when she was 16 years of age and continued into her twenties. She tearfully described living with deep shame and pain over the ensuing years.

In the wake of what has now been revealed, we are hurting and broken for a woman who has lovingly attended and served in the church for many years, as well as for her husband and family. It is our deepest prayer and commitment to love, support, encourage and help her through a process of healing in any way in which we are able. New Life is likewise devoted to ministering to and with all of our members through this difficult season, that we might not only survive this, but experience together abundant grace, unity healing – all for the glory of God, and the preservation of His church.

Our brokenness extends to Pastor John B. Lowe II, his wife and family as well. For 42 years, New Life has taught and preached a Cross-driven message of repentance, forgiveness and restoration; a ministry of reconciliation which has been both led and modeled by Pastors John and Debbie Lowe. As healing occurs in their hearts, their marriage and family, we are committed to demonstrating the same support, encouragement, counsel and forgiveness that has come to define the collective heart and ministry of this body. As of Monday, May 23, 2022, Pastor John B. Lowe II tendered His resignation with New Life Christian Church and World Outreach.

To all concerned, please be assured that, until now, none of this was disclosed to or known by any of the staff, ministers or personnel of New Life. As with the church in general and the public at large, we too are responding to this without anticipation; praying and striving only to see that the Lord’s good, perfect and eternal plans will ultimately and visibly prevail. Life is messy. Believers are messy. Church is messy. God is not.

Pay particular attention to the end of the video, as the victim walks away from the platform to the back of the church. Notice what many of the congregants did. Rally around Bobi Gephart? Hell no. They gathered around the true victims in this story, Pastor Lowe and his wife. Gaze on the visage of “Christian love,” which on this night, complete with prayers and shouts of praise, gave the appearance of victim shaming. What mattered in their eyes was poor Pastor Lowe, a good man, deserving of love and forgiveness. Yes, he made a mistake, but LOOK! at all the good he has done over the years. And no doubt there will be members who will say to themselves, “well, Bobi was sixteen!” Let the victim-blaming and shaming begin. What’s next? She seduced him (as defenders IFB pastor Jack Schaap’s said about his teen victim)?

To the church members who did express their outrage over Lowe’s “confession,” thank you for speaking truth to power. It’s troubling that you are a minority at New Life, but your willingness to challenge Lowe’s “adultery” claim hasn’t gone unnoticed here in the “world.”

Lowe’s church bio states:

Pastor John B. Lowe II has been faithful in full time ministry for over 35 years. He carries a heart for the local church, yet has reached a world wide audience with an Apostolic calling. His ministry has taken him from the local church to many nations of the world where he mentors lead pastors, conducts faith conferences, marriage and family conferences and more.

Marriage and family ministry, are of high value to Pastor and his wife Debbie. They desire to impart the truth that, God is good His word is true, and it works in our lives.

Pastor John and Debbie Lowe have ministered together for many years and they emphasize living a life empowered by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Through New Life Christian Church they have started ministry to the homeless, community marriage seminars, private Christian education for 21 years, the gift of warmth program to offset heating cost in the winter to the needy, prison ministry, local jail ministry and Celebrate Recovery.

Lowe’s wife, Debra is New Life’s co-pastor. Lowe’s son, Bryan, is the associate pastor, and his daughter Brittney is the community pastor — truly, a family-run business. This alone speaks volumes.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jeffrey Anthony Charles Accused of Sexual Assault

Pastor Jeffrey Charles

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.

Jeffrey Anthony Charles, former pastor of Neighbors to Nations Church in Princeton, Minnesota (previously named Open Door Fellowship Church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and now Souls Church), stands accused of sexually assaulting a three-year-old child. Charles was previously convicted of Sexual Abuse, 3rd Degree, in the state of Iowa in 1997, yet he was still pastoring a church when these crimes were allegedly committed. I hope authorities will investigate whether Neighbors to the Nations Church (now Souls Church) was complicit in Charles’ crimes.

Wispolitics.com reports:

Attorney General Josh Kaul and Douglas County District Attorney (DA) Mark Fruehauf today announced that Jeffrey Anthony Charles, age 61, has been charged with one count of Repeated Sexual Assault of a Child, Persistent Repeater, for incidents that occurred from 2005 to 2010.

“We are committed to holding perpetrators of sexual assault accountable,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you to DA Fruehauf for his continued partnership with the Clergy and Faith Leader Abuse Initiative, and for the work of his office and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in seeking justice in this case.”

According to the criminal complaint, Charles served as the pastor for Neighbors to Nations church in Princeton, Minn. at the time of the assaults and parishioners routinely traveled to Charles’ cabin in the Town of Summit, Wis. The complaint states that Charles sexually assaulted a victim three to four times at his cabin in the Town of Summit, Wis. over the course of five years, when the victim was between the ages of 3 and 7. Charles was previously convicted of Sexual Abuse, 3rd Degree, in the state of Iowa in 1997.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bob Sexually Assaulted Three Generations of Women, Yet He Went to Heaven When He Died

barbara tieken 1940s
My mom, Barbara Tieken, 1940s

Men have been sexually preying on women for as long as anyone can remember. Millions of women have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped. Worse yet, many of these crimes are never reported, let alone prosecuted. Some women feel shame after being assaulted and don’t want anyone to know what happened. Others fear retribution, job loss, or family ostracization. Still others fear they will not be believed. One such woman was my mother.

Mom was sexually molested as a child by her father. (Please read Barbara.) I know this because she told me. As an adult, Mom tried one day to confront her father over his “sins.” His response? Without ever acknowledging what he had done, he told Mom that his past sins had been forgiven by God, and if God had forgiven him, so should she. Mom’s lack of forgiveness became an issue when Grandpa’s wife, using Bill Gothard’s Basic Life Principles, decided to “confront” Mom’s bitterness. She let it be known that Mom’s bitterness was due to her unwillingness to forgive. Needless to say, the discussion turned into an angry shouting match. (Please read Dear Ann.)

In the late 1960s, we lived west of Farmer, Ohio in a rented farmhouse owned by my Dad’s sister, Mary. I attended fifth and sixth grade at Farmer Elementary School. One day, I was home sick from school. Unbeknownst to me, my uncle, whom I will call Bob out of respect for his wife and son, unexpectedly came to our home. Bob only stayed for a short while, but what he did during that time left a lasting impression on a mother and her twelve-year-old son.

I learned as an adult that Bob was known for sexually harassing and assaulting women, including teen girls. Many of the women in my family have stories to tell about Bob inappropriately touching them or coming on to them. Everyone knew about Bob. Oh, that’s just how Bob was, one close family member told me. As far as I know, no one has ever publicly accused Bob of sexually assaulting them; except for my mom, that is.

Whether Bob stopped at our house on a whim or knew that Mom would be home alone and wanted to use that opportunity to take sexual advantage of her, I’ll never know, but one thing is for certain: Bob raped my mother. I know, because she told me he did. After Bob left, Mom had me run down to the neighbor’s house to use their phone to call someone. For the life of me, I can’t remember whom she had me call. I do know that no one believed her. She was Crazy Barb, the woman with mental problems.

Is it any wonder Mom had mental health problems? Born into a family where both parents were violent alcoholics, she suffered significant trauma, including being sexually molested by her father. At age seventeen, she had an unplanned pregnancy, and by age eighteen she was married and had a redheaded baby boy — yours truly. Mom married a young Hungarian man, but he was not my father. Two years ago, I learned that my father was a married truck driver from Chicago. He met my teen mom at the truck stop where she worked in Bryan. (Please see What an Ancestry DNA Test Revealed About Me.)

A few years ago, Bob died. His funeral was held at First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — the family church. Bob’s parents, Mom and Pop Daugherty, were instrumental in starting First Baptist, and they were lifelong members, as were several of their children. Bob didn’t attend First Baptist. As far as I know, he didn’t attend any church and hadn’t been to First Baptist in decades. The church is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church, pastored by John MacFarlane, a man who was a boy in the church when I was a teenager. This boy, now a college-educated man of God, conducted Bob’s funeral.

barbara gerencser 1957
Barbara Gerencser, 1957, age 18. Holding her newborn son Bruce (Butch)

Having attended numerous IFB funerals, I knew what to expect: preaching and an invitation to accept Jesus as my Savior. I endured this nonsense for the sake of my family. During the service, the pastor spoke glowingly of Bob’s life. I began to feel anger rise up in me, knowing that the pastor was painting faux gold on a piece of shit. Even worse, the pastor shared a story about Bob coming to the church altar as a teenager and asking Jesus to save him. And glory to God in the highest, God saved Bob and he is, thanks to Jesus, in Heaven today, said the pastor, or something to that effect. I’m sure hearing that Bob was in Heaven brought great joy and peace to his elderly mother. But what about my mother — who at age fifty-four, turned a Ruger .357 magnum towards her heart and pulled the trigger, killing herself instantly? What about all the girls, who are now grownups, and their mothers, who endured the indignity of Bob groping and sexually harassing them (and who knows what else he might have done, secrets never spoken of)? How is it that everyone who took sexual advantage of my mother died and went to Heaven — all praise be to the one who overlooks the sexually predatory ways of his followers — yet my mother is burning in Hell because she committed the one “sin” that can never be forgiven — self-murder?

barbara gerencser 1956
Barbara Gerencser, 1956, age 17

Mom is buried at Fountain Grove Cemetery in Bryan, Ohio. From time to time, I will stop by the cemetery and ponder what life might have been like for my mom had it not been for the men in her life. She certainly had her faults, but I wonder how much of the carnage that became her life can be traced back to her being sexually molested as a child and being raped as a young woman. Mom would divorce my father three years after Bob raped her. She would go on to marry three more times, always thinking that she needed a man in her life to survive. Such were the times, I suppose, but I know this for sure: I miss my mother and curse those who harmed her and caused her so much anguish and suffering.

As for Bob, he is where all people — good and bad — end up when they die: the grave. There is no Heaven or Hell, except for that which we experience in this life. While Mom had moments where she experienced the joys of Heaven, sadly much of her life was Hell. I so wish for her that she could have a second run at this thing we call life, but alas there are no re-dos. All I can do now is tell her story and work to make sure that the Bobs of the world don’t have a chance to harm others. And when they do sexually harm others, I want to be a voice calling for their arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Perhaps then, those who sexually assault and rape young girls, teens, and adult women will experience a bit of the hell they so richly deserve — Jesus and his forgiveness be damned.

And for the preacher who preached Bob into Heaven? Fuck you, John. Your theology has turned you into a bad person.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Charlie Hedrick Read Bible Verses to Victim Before Assaulting Her

charlie hedrick

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.

Charlie Hedrick, a Christian man who hails from Rowan County, North Carolina, stands accused of sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl.

WBTV-3 reports:

Charlie Jerry Hedrick was arrested on Wednesday in the 5100 block of Woodleaf Road, according to the report. Hedrick has been charged with first degree sexual offense involving a victim under the age of 13, and taking indecent liberties with children. Both are felony counts.

The investigation in February after Rowan County deputies received a report that Hedrick had sexually abused a 6-year-old girl during 2015. The victim, who was known to Hedrick and who is now 12 years old, was able to tell investigators that he would he would bring the girl to his home on Sundays after church, read scripture from the Bible to her and then molest her.

According to the report, the abuse occurred several times during that year, then stopped as the child became older.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Midland Christian School Officials Accused of Failing to Report Sexual Assault

midland christian school

Four administrators and a coach at Midland Christian School in Midland, Texas, stand accused of failing to report the sexual assault of a student.

Julie Roy reports:

Four top administrators and a coach at one of Texas’ largest Christian K-12 schools have been arrested on charges they tried to hide a student’s alleged sexual assault from police.

The arrests are in connection with an alleged hazing incident in January at the 1,200-student Midland Christian School in Midland, Texas. The school is associated with Churches of Christ.

Charged with failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse are Midland’s superintendent, principal, vice principal, athletic director and head baseball coach.

All have since bonded out of the Midland County Detention Center, local media reported. Police also arrested an unidentified minor.

The probable cause affidavit for Superintendent Jared Lee’s arrest states Midland police were told Jan. 28 that a student may have been sexually assaulted at the school after baseball practice on Jan. 20.

The alleged victim told police he was attacked with a baseball bat in the locker room in what was described as a “freshman initiation day.” At one point, the boy told police, he was flipped over onto his back and sexually assaulted with the bat, according to the affidavit.

Dana Ellis, principal of Midland Christian’s secondary school, told police the school learned about the assault the next day, the affidavit indicates. She told police that Superintendent Lee asked Athletic Director Greg McClendon and Vice Principal Matt Counts to investigate instead of calling law enforcement.

When police asked for the school’s documentation about the assault, Lee refused to provide it or answer questions, according to the police affidavit. Police allege that Lee and the other four — Ellis, McClendon, Counts and head baseball coach Barry Russell — “have continually attempted to conceal the incident or abuse from authorities.”

Police got a search warrant for documentation but found none, aside from some “notes” from McClendon and Counts, the affidavit indicates. Police also detailed several alleged failures of the school administration, including lack of forensic interviews or a rape kit.

Police also obtained emails between the five accused making it “very clear that a sexual assault had occurred, and the school had a duty to report,” according to the affidavit. Yet “several of the administrators refused to report the incident as shown in emails.”

….

Lee, a Midland Christian alum, has been the school’s superintendent since his father retired from the post in 2017. He has held several other positions there and was previously high school principal at Brentwood Christian School in Austin, Texas.

Ellis and Counts also graduated from Midland Christian and have been on staff for several years, according to the school’s website. McClendon has been at the school for more than 20 years.

Russell, who coached the Midland public high school team to the playoffs for 20 straight seasons, was hired as Midland Christian’s head baseball coach last summer.

When are Evangelical schools and churches going to learn that it is not their duty or responsibility to investigate sexual assault claims? Such investigations are the purview of law enforcement. Schools and churches have one obligation: report all accusations of sexual assault. End of discussion.

Midland’s statement of faith states:

WE BELIEVE that marriage is a permanent, exclusive, comprehensive, and conjugal “one flesh” union of one man and one woman, intrinsically ordered to procreation and biological family, and in furtherance of the moral, spiritual, and public good of binding father, mother and child. Genesis 1:27-28, Genesis 2:18-24, Matthew 19:4-9, Mark 10:5-9, Ephesians 5:31-33

WE BELIEVE that sexual acts outside of marriage are prohibited as sinful, including without limitation, adultery, fornication, incest, zoophilia, pornography, prostitution, masturbation, voyeurism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, sodomy, polygamy, polyamory, sologamy, or same-sex acts. Exodus 20:14, Leviticus 18:7-23, Leviticus 20:10-21, Deuteronomy 5:18, Matthew 15:19, Matthew 5:27-28, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-13, I Thessalonians 4:3, Hebrews 13:4, Galations 5:19, Ephesians 4:17-19, Colossians 3:5

Evidently, sexual assault is not on the prohibited “sin” list.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser