Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal

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

Earlier this year, Andy Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee admitted to the church that he had sexually assaulted a teen girl years ago at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Savage called the assault a “sexual incident.” Afterward, the Highpoint congregation gave Savage an ovation for being so open and honest — feel free to puke. And with that, Savage continued to work for Highpoint Church. Sin confessed, onward, upward Buzz Savage. Highpoint, by the way, knew of the sexual assault before hiring Savage. What’s a little sexual assault among friends, right?

Several weeks later, after outrage over Savage’s tone-deafness and lack of true repentance and sorrow, Savage resigned. Jules Woodson, the woman Savage sexually assaulted years ago, reported the assault to pastor Larry Cotton, then pastor of Woodlands Parkway Baptist. Cotton, as Evangelicals are wont to do, did nothing. In February, Cotton, now pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, resigned, admitting that he should have reported Savage’s misconduct to law enforcement authorities. Savage will not be prosecuted for his alleged crimes due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Today, another domino fell in the Andy Savage scandal. Chris Conlee, the lead pastor and founder of Highpoint has resigned, saying that it was time for him to pass the baton to someone else.You can read Highpoint’s board’s statement: here. Again, prepare to puke. No mention is made of the Savage scandal.  Instead, the church plans to give Conlee a grand send-off, thanking him for all he has done for Highpoint.

The Andy Savage scandal is sickening from start to finish. No one, I repeat NO ONE, acted on behalf of the victim. Instead, what we see is cover-your-ass moves and attempts to move on without honestly and fully dealing with Savage’s criminal behavior. And here’s the thing: all of these “men of God” will land somewhere on their feet, ready and willing to WOW new churches. And the beat goes on, one victim at a time.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Sunday School Teacher Jonathan Young Accused of Rape

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.

Jonathan Young, a Sunday school teacher at Firstborn Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — in Benson, North Carolina stands accused of raping several church girls.  WRAL-5 reports that Young has 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 cover alleged crimes committed between 2004 and 2014.

Several former church members allege church leaders knew about Young’s crimes and covered them up. The church denies doing so. Durwood Young, pastor of Firstborn Baptist, had this to say:

I’m heartbroken by it all because it’s unbelievable. I hate if anyone is hurt on either side but the young man is ruined now. I hate it and I don’t know what else to say about it.

What’s unbelievable is that Pastor Young’s first statement is about being concerned for the “young man” whose life has been “ruined.”  The victims aren’t even mentioned outside of Young “hating [the] hurt on either side.” What is this, a sporting event where you have two opposing teams?

Both the pastor and the perpetrator have the same last name. I was unable to ascertain if they are related.

Updated

A reader with intimate knowledge of this church and the parties involved has told me that Durwood Young is Jonathan Young’s great uncle. This reader also told me that other people in the church have, in the past, been accused of sexual improprieties. If anyone has information regarding these allegations, please contact me.

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

arrested

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.

I’m way behind in every area of my life except eating, so I thought I’d do a Black Collar Crime catch up post. One thing is for sure, Evangelical preachers don’t take a break from committing sex crimes.

Evangelical Pastor John Scheline Pleads Guilty to Attempted Second Rape of a Child

John Scheline, former director of Ignite Youth Mentoring in Richland, Washington and former pastor at  Faith Assembly in Pasco, Washington and  Bozeman Christian Center in Bozeman, Montana pleaded guilty earlier this week to attempted second degree rape of a child.

The Tri-City Herald reports:

Investigators found an advertisement Scheline had placed June 13, 2017, on Craigslist suggesting that a married dad was looking for a young boy, according to court documents.

A detective responded July 5 as a father offering up his 13-year-old son for sex acts. Scheline then discussed in explicit detail what he would do with the boy, documents said.

Scheline went to the designated apartment, but turned and left when “the (undercover) son” answered the door, documents said. He was arrested as he tried to get out of the complex.

In his plea statement, Scheline said he “took a substantial step toward having sexual intercourse” with someone between ages 12 and 14.

Sentencing is scheduled for August if a presentencing report is completed before then.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Howell said in the plea statement that he will recommend a mandatory minimum of four years and 11 months, but Scheline is free to argue for less time in prison.

You can read my original post about Scheline here.

Evangelical Pastor Brad Waller Admits to Having Disturbing Foot Fetish

Brad Waller, pastor of Grace Church of the Islands in Savannah, Georgia, stands accused of massaging the feet of adults and minor children during counseling. Several victims believe these massages were sexual in nature.

According to a statement released by the church, Waller admitted his foot fetish:

Grace Church of the Islands placed Brad Waller, then the church’s Senior Pastor, on leave when the governing Session learned of his inappropriate conduct. As Waller ultimately admitted, he abused his role as a Pastor, rubbing the feet of men and male youth in his care. The Session asked for Waller’s resignation. Waller is no longer the Pastor of Grace Church of the Islands, and he is no longer a minister in our denomination. Our congregation has been grieving. We have experienced shock, denial, pain, guilt and anger.

In Christian hope, our goal now is to heal our church. We want to better understand what happened, who was harmed, and how we can help.

Waller should have used water. Then he could have claimed he was washing feet just as Jesus did during his public ministry days.

Evangelical Church Administrator Carlyle Sparrow Receives Slap on Wrist for Inappropriate Sexual Relationship with Teen Girl

Carlyle Sparrow, administrator for Hope Community Church of the Nazarene, (formerly known as Gloryland Nazarene Church) in Carroll, Ohio, pleaded guilty to sexual battery and contributing to unruliness or delinquency of a child. Fairfield County Common Pleas Judge David Trimmer sentenced Sparrow to complete five years of community control and to register as a Tier III sex offender. According to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, Sparrow had a sexual relationship with a minor church girl. The Eagle-Gazette reports:

About a year and a half into the friendship, the victim said Sparrow expressed romantic feelings for her, even though he was married, and the abuse began. He also became her mentor for her senior project while she attended Fairfield Christian Academy, gaining more access to her and time alone.

“Throughout the abuse, he said to me, ‘If this ever stops, if I ever stop doing what I am doing to you, it is because you stop it. I am unable to control myself. I will keep doing this until you say so. This is all on you,’ she recalled. “He made me believe that it was up to me. I was the one who allowed it. He told me he, ‘was not strong enough to stop himself.’

“Who says that to a kid? He was telling me that a 50-some-year-old married man did not have enough willpower or self-control to keep himself out of a young girl’s panties.”

Linehan said Sparrow only gave four piano lessons to the victim. However, the victim alleges there were more.

In her statement, she explicitly described the abuse. She said Sparrow disrobed her in a church youth room, performed oral sex on a pastor’s desk, groped her in a church prayer room and committed other sex acts in a church parking lot and at Sparrow’s home.

Fairfield County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Reamer said Sparrow operates Sparrow Academy of Music and is not employed by Fairfield Christian Academy, but his students had performances there.

Some of the sex acts, Reamer said, were carried out at Hope Community Church of the Nazarene, formerly known as Gloryland Nazarene Church, in Greenfield Township where Sparrow worked as a church administrator. Pastor Kevin Seymour said Sparrow worked at the church for about 30 years until he resigned in 2017. The resignation was unrelated and occurred before the church was aware of any criminal allegations. Reamer said at no time was a sexual allegation reported to or ignored by church officials.

It was one of the victim’s teachers that realized something was wrong and notified authorities in fall 2016. The victim said she was thankful for her school’s involvement, including the administration acting quickly and banning Sparrow from school grounds.

At first, she said she was apprehensive to speak out against Sparrow because he had told her a story of another adult getting in trouble for having a sexual relationship with an underage individual. Knowing the severe implications of telling her story, she said she kept their relationship a secret.

I am familiar both with the church and school, having pastored a Baptist church in nearby Somerset, Ohio.

Evangelical Pastor Mike Ulmer Pleads Guilty to Sexual Battery, Assault, and Two Counts of Attempted Rape

Mike Ulmer, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Henderson,Tennessee and a volunteer teacher, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual battery, assault, and two counts of attempted rape. Bethlehem Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church.

WBBJ reports:

The former Henderson pastor and Chester County High School teaching assistant is accused of tying up and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old at his home in 2017, according to court documents.

Donahoe said Ulmer will serve one year in the Chester County jail and spend 10 years on probation. “He will report, and part of the agreement was that he would be on the sex offender registry,” Donahoe said.

According to the plea agreement, Ulmer also cannot have any contact with witnesses or the victim.

Previous news report on this case.

Evangelical Youth Pastor Courtney Biggs Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

In 2015, Evangelical youth pastor Courtney Biggs was indicted on federal child pornography charges. At the time of his alleged crimes, Biggs was employed by Mountain Church in Medford, Orgeon.

The Mail Tribune reported:

Biggs, 36, was arrested by Medford police Jan. 15 in connection with an alleged burglary three days prior at Mountain Church, 1 E. Main St., where he had been employed as an administrative and youth pastor. Police said they believe Biggs, who previously had been under investigation for inappropriate text messages he allegedly exchanged with a juvenile congregation member, was attempting to steal computer hard drives from the church.

Police later served a search warrant at Biggs’ Jacksonville home, where investigators from the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force said they recovered 28 videos from a hidden camera in the bathroom depicting women and young girls in various states of nudity. County prosecutors then added additional charges of first-degree encouraging child sex abuse, using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and private indecency.

Use of a child in a display of a sex act is a Class A felony under state law, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 70 months in prison without parole under Measure 11 guidelines. Under federal law, transporting a minor across state lines for a criminal sexual offense carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, while using a minor to produce a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct carries a minimum sentence of 15 years.

In February, Biggs pleaded guilty to one count of transporting with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor. According to persecutors, Biggs is facing a fifteen-year sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for August 20, 2018.

Evangelical Pastor Jody Hilliard Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison on Sex Crime Charges

In  January 2018, I wrote a post  that stated: Jody Hilliard, assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Duncan,Oklahoma and a high school teacher and principal, will stand trial March 21, 2018 for allegedly sexually molesting a ten-year-old girl. Hilliard later pleaded no contest to five counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under the age of twelve.

On Wednesday, Hilliard was sentenced to seven-years in prison for his crimes.

Michael Terui Sentenced to Twenty-Five Years in Prison for Manufacturing Child Pornography

Michael Terui, an Evangelical pastor’s son, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to manufacturing child pornography and was recently sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for his crimes. According to news reports, Terui used his position an outreach resource at his father’s church to troll for potential victims.

KHON-2 reports:

A Kauai man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for manufacturing child pornography.

Michael Terui, 38, was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Terui pled guilty to the offense on December 12, 2017.

According to court documents, Terui repeatedly sexually abused numerous young children, ranging in age from seven to 13 years old, over a period of more than a decade.

Fifteen minor victims have been identified. Terui acted as an outreach resource for his father’s church, which held services in the homes of members of the congregation and offered outreach programs to families that lacked a father figure in the home. Terui would often host “sleepovers” and other gatherings at his home, where he kept video games and movies, which he used to “groom” the children and gain their trust.

Terui engaged in sex acts with the children, often while they were sleeping (or pretending to sleep). Terui recorded his conduct using hidden and handheld digital video cameras. Terui also lured his victims on vacations.

….

At his sentencing, Chief Judge Seabright said that this was the “worst type of breach of trust possible.” In imposing the 25-year sentence, Chief Judge Seabright noted several aggravating factors, including that Terui had groomed the children to gain their trust; taken advantage of his position in the church in order to gain access to the children; and engaged in the egregious sexual abuse over a period of more than 10 years. Chief Judge Seabright also
highlighted that Terui had recorded the abuse of the children in order to use the recordings for his future sexual gratification. Four parents of the minor victims participated in the sentencing.

The parent of one victim told Terui that he was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and accused him of “hiding behind the ministry.”

Evangelical Children’s Church Worker John Carter Convicted of Sexual Assault

John Carter, a former children’s church worker at Harmony Hills Baptist Church in Lufkin, Texas, and an employee of several local Texas school districts and a private academy, was found guilty earlier this week of sexually assaulting a ten-year-old girl. In 2015, Carter pleaded guilty in an unrelated case to “attempting possession of child pornography and attempting an improper relationship between an educator and a student.” He received probation.

Black Collar Crime: Christian Counselor Daniel Staats Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

daniel staats

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.

Daniel Staats, a Christian counselor at Helping the Hurting and fill-in pastor in Dalton, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to sexually assaulting a female client. The Times Free Press reports that Statts fondled a client’s breast, exposed himself, and received oral sex during a July 2017 visit.

Numerous women have accused Staats of inappropriate behavior, but the police do not consider his behavior criminal. Creepy, yes. Criminal, no.  Staats was given a twenty year sentence, with eighteen years suspended. Staats is no longer permitted to work as a counselor.

Staats should never have been a counselor to begin with. Because Staats was a Christian counselor, neither licensure or state oversight was required. Thus, other victims have no path by which to report Staats behavior. I guess they could take their allegations to the Lord in prayer or leave their burdens at the altar. I am sure most reader will agree, church counseling ministries and counselors should be required to operate under the same laws and regulations as secular counselors. Jesus should not be grounds for exemption from government regulation.

Victims of Daniel Staat have set up a web page detailing Staat’s crimes and inappropriate behavior.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Allen Lehmann Avoids Jail Time for Sexual Assault

allen lehmann

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.

Allen Lehmann, pastor of Trinity Chapel Assembly of God in Louisville, Kentucky, entered an Alford Plea on sexual assault charges. The plea agreement recommends a suspended sentence and probation. According to the Courier Journal:

A former Louisville pastor has accepted a plea deal on multiple sex offenses stemming from the abuse of three young sisters.

Prosecutors alleged Allen Lehmann, 80, abused the girls over the course of a decade when they visited his Louisville home. At the time, Lehmann worked as a pastor at Trinity Chapel Assembly of God church.

Lehmann entered an Alford plea, which allows defendants to maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors may have sufficient evidence for a jury to convict.

He will be sentenced on five of the 17 counts against him, including sexual abuse and third-degree rape and sodomy.

….

The case was originally scheduled for a jury trial Tuesday, the second attempt to try the former pastor.

Lehmann faced trial in July 2017, but on the second day of testimony, the judge declared a mistrial at the request of defense attorneys after concerns one of the sisters may have revealed inadmissible information to jurors while on the witness stand.

Willett had previously ruled that prosecutors were not allowed to introduce at trial evidence of other allegations of sexual abuse by Lehmann.

Prosecutors interrupted the witness during her testimony, fearing where she was heading, but the damage was done.

…..

Based on my understanding of news reports, Lehmann has previously faced accusations of sexual assault. If this is true, it troubles me that Lehmann will serve no jail time for his latest crimes. In Lehmann’s first trial, prosecutors wanted to admit into evidence a letter in which Lehmann admitted to abusing children all the way back to 1957! The judge for the first trial refused to permit prosecutors to use the letter. WKLY reports:

Prosecutors said a Louisville pastor once wrote a letter admitting to sexually abusing children, and now they want to use that letter in court.

Allen Lehmann faces charges of sodomy and sexual abuse. The alleged incidents took place between 1993 and 2000.

The 76-year-old Lehmann was a substitute teacher in Valparaiso, Indiana, when the charges were filed last year. He was also a minister at an Assembly of God Church in Louisville.

Lehman’s defense attorney said the letter doesn’t involve the cases in which he is charged, and that it can’t be used as evidence against him.

Prosecutors said it shows how Lehman preyed on children.

What this does do is give context to who the defendant is, and why we are here today,” Courtney Straw said. “He wrote this himself, confessed to these other crimes, and ends the letter begging for the church to let him continue to minister because, ‘Here, I confessed, I’ve absolved myself, I’ve told you just enough to try to keep my license.'”

Prosecutors said the letter, dated March 8, 2011, was handwritten by Lehmann.

The letter said “during the approximate time frame of 1970 to 1978, (he) sexually molested” the victims.

He also said “during the late winter of 1957, (he) sexually molested” another victim.
Lehmann is on trial for abuses police said occurred in the 1990s.

Lehmann’s attorney never attacks the letter’s authenticity but said his client has never been charged in any other sexual abuse case.

….

According to court records, Assembly of God officials investigated abuse allegations against Lehmann in the 1960s and 1980s. It is astounding, then, that Lehmann was permitted to remain in the ministry; permitted to continue sexually assaulting children all the way into the 2000s.

First trial story, First trial story

Black Collar Crime: Focus Church and Pastor Garry Mitchell Shun the Victims and Embrace the Abuser

clarence willie white

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.

Garry Mitchell is the pastor of Focus Church in Lewisburg, Kentucky. In April, a grand jury indicted associate pastor and bus driver Clarence “Willie” White  on charges of sexual assault. The victims were children White picked up for church with Focus Church’s van.  Since then, three more alleged victims have come forward. You would think having six allegations leveled against a congregant would cause a church and its pastor to distance themselves from the alleged abuser, especially considering that he previously was convicted in 1980 of third-degree rape. Not Mitchell and the folks at Focus Church. They are resolutely standing behind their man.

Mitchell appeared as a character witness for White, asking that his bond be reduced from a $10,000 cash bond to a surety bond which required no outlay of cash. The judge rejected the bail reduction request.

When Logan Circuit Judge Tyler Gill asked Mitchell:

You understand exactly what the allegations are and you’re confident to put him right back into that same position and drive the bus and be associate pastor pastoring 15- and 16-year-old girls? You’re okay with that?

Mitchell replied,”Yes, we have no issue with him.”

When asked whether congregants felt safe around White, Mitchell replied:

Yes, and the women of our church. He has proven to be a Godly man or I wouldn’t be standing here saying these things and I wouldn’t be putting my reputation on the line.

When asked about White’s previous conviction on rape, Mitchell replied, “It wasn’t until I was here in court the last time and heard the brevity of the conviction 40 years ago.”

When asked about whether the victims would be allowed to return to church, Mitchell told the judge that one of the victims had tried to return to church several times, and he asked her to stay away due to the allegations she made against White.  Mitchell stated, “We asked them until things were worked out not to be involved with us.”

The News-Democrat & Leader reports:

White’s wife bailed him out of the Logan County Detention Center May 18.

Soon after the ND&L spoke with the three additional alleged victims found on Facebook, the newspaper contacted Mitchell via email to inform him of the new information and to ask if he and the church had changed their stance on White, which Mitchell detailed in court.

Mitchell released a statement to the ND&L on behalf of the church’s leadership team and also posted that statement on the Focus Church Facebook page.

Mitchell asked the ND&L to publish the statement in its entirety and “not to change it in any way that includes editing and or deletions without an agreement between (the NDL) and our church leadership first. If you agree, then you will publish this written statement separate from any other articles relating to this issue.”

The ND&L explained to White through email there were a few claims within the official statement that were not mentioned at the bond hearing and appeared to be contradictory. One included the church asking White to step down from any contact with the children and youth ministry, removing him from any leadership role he had with the church children and youth six months before the case came out to the public. This was never brought up at the hearing and questioning by the judge.

Mitchell said the church leadership team had decided they no longer wished for the statement to be printed by the ND&L and wished to listen to the scripture “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

….

Focus Church released the following statement. As you will see, their cover our ass press release contradicts what was said in court:

“Let me begin by saying we made a mistake that you would understand our intentions as a community of faith at Focus Church concerning our stand with Clarence White. We need your help to see and understand our decision to support someone accused of such a terrible thing.

“At the time Lead Pastor Garry appeared in court on behalf of Clarence White. Our ministry had already been dealing with the accusations close to six months. During that period of time, we had implemented safeguards for those who attended each week. We ask Clarence to step down from any contact with the children and youth ministry, removing him from any leadership role he had with our children and youth. After the accusations he was removed from all activities related to children and youth including if he was to be a substitute van driver with his wife.

“Our next course of action was to immediately follow up by asking parents, children and youth if there was any behavior that was a threat to their well being. The answer we got was an absolute ‘no.’ Even though we got that answer we continued to monitor the activity of our children and youth ministry.

“Our church defines itself as ‘a church without walls.’ It is not our nature to ban anyone who desires to attend our services and ministries, nor have we ever placed a banned on anyone. Our desire is to offer Jesus, His salvation, healing and deliverance. We offer an open door policy and we open our hearts to anyone who seeks Jesus and a new life in God.

“Lets make this clear, we did NOT use any money given in our church for ministries to be use to bail anyone out of jail including Clarence White. We understand the true purpose of tithes and offerings they are intended for the building the Kingdom of God.

“Since Clarence posted bail FOCUS church leadership, Clarence and his lawyer have agreed that he would not return to FOCUS church, or any activity or event until the matter of the accusations would be settled once and for all.

“Our decision as a church to support Clarence White was decided on the basis that no proven evidence had been given to justify the accusations. These accusations had not been proven at the time of Pastor Garry’s courtroom appearance. Believing everyone should be treated without judgement we stand with him until proven guilty. If he is proven guilty, then we fully expect judgement and accountability. But like anyone else we will be redemptive and offer forgiveness of God in Jesus name to any person.”

Last month, the Kentucky New Era reported:

A Logan County Grand Jury indicted Willie White, 60, on April 27 for subjecting a 16-year old to sexual contact when he allegedly placed his hand in her back pocket and touched her buttocks for sexual gratification between November and December of 2017.

The jury also indicted White during the same time period for subjecting two more victims to sexual contact. One when he allegedly touched a 15-year-old’s vagina for sexual gratification and another when he allegedly touched the buttocks of a 12-year-old for sexual gratification.

This is one of those stories that just blow me away. I hope, if and when White is convicted, that the victims sue Mitchell and Focus Church. Mitchell and his fellow church members are oblivious to what they should be doing, so perhaps losing everything will help them see the error of their ways. Of course, White could be innocent too, but I doubt it. The previous rape conviction and multiple current allegations tell me that White is a man that shouldn’t be around children — ever.

When asked about reducing White’s bail, the judge replied, “You’ve got all those people at the church, I’ll let them post that bond. Go for it. I have some serious questions about judgment here, but it’s not my judgment I’m worried about.”

Yep. And people wonder why sex abuse victims are hesitant to come forward.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelist Acton Bowen Accused of Sex Crimes in Florida

acton bowen

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 Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Evangelist Acton Bowen Arrested on Child Sex Charges,  Black Collar Crime: Why Did Young Boys Need to be Protected from Evangelist Acton Bowen? Black Collar Crime: Evangelist Acton Bowen Accused of Additional Sex Crimes and Black Collar Crime: District Attorney Says Evangelist Acton Bowen is a ‘Danger to Every Child in This Community’ for further information about Acton Bowen.)

Acton Bowen, an Evangelical evangelist, stands accused of committing sex crimes in Florida. ABC 33/40 reports:

 The list of sexual abuse accusations against evangelist Acton Bowen has crossed state lines. Bowen was charged with lewd or lascivious battery in Bay County, Florida according to the local sheriff’s office.

The charge was filed on May 23rd. According to Florida state law, a person commits lewd or lascivious battery by engaging in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age or encouraging, forcing, or enticing any person less than 16 years of age to engage in sexual activity.

….

I suspect that this will not be the last time one of Bowen’s victims comes forward alleging sexual misconduct.

Bowen remains jailed in Florida, unable to post a $1.06 million bond.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Larry Mullins Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor larry mullins

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

Larry Mullins, pastor of Apostolic Christian Ministries in Nebraska City, Nebraska, was arraigned Tuesday on multiple counts of sexual assault of a child.  Mullins’s bond was set at $750,000.  According to KWBE, Otoe County Attorney David Partsch said:

Would note that this case does allege ongoing incidents over a course of years starting when the alleged victim was just six to seven years of age

Mullins could face life in prison if convicted.

Black Collar Crime: Youth Pastor Randall Carter Accused of Sex Crimes

randall carter

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.

Randall Carter, a youth pastor at an unnamed church and a fifth grade teacher at Lee A. Tolbert Community Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, stands accused of rape of a child, aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Fox-4KC reports that Carter allegedly assaulted two girls under the age of fourteen. Carter denies the charges. His lawyer, Philip Sedgwick, attempted to cast doubt on the allegations by saying:

You have to wonder why somebody would take that long to say something about what happened to them.

Carter’s bond was reduced from $500,000 to $250,000. If Carter posts bail, the judge ordered “he must wear [an] ankle monitor and can not be around children, including his own.”

Black Collar Crime: Preacher Alfonzo Carter Charged With Sexual Assault

alfonzo carter

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.

Alfonzo Carter preaches monthly at Greater First Baptist M.B. Church in Chicago, Illinois.  In April 2018, Carter started counseling the victim, hoping to help her deal with problems she was having at school. According to the Chicago Tribune, his “help” turned into emotional manipulation that later led to sexual intercourse.  The Tribune reports:

In mid-April, the girl was staying at her grandmother’s. About 3 a.m. April 20, Carter drove to the house and picked up the teen in an alley a few houses down. He then parked and the girl lay down in the back seat, where he told her to take off her clothes. He then had intercourse with her, prosecutors said.

Carter then drove the teen back to the grandmother’s house.

Carter continued to contact the teen via phone and Facebook. He asked her to perform sex acts on him as well as for nude photos, but the teen refused. He then told her to delete the messages and texts he had sent, prosecutors said.

Seven days later, Carter drove to the grandmother’s house again about 3 a.m. and picked the girl up in the alley, and the two had intercourse again, prosecutors said.

Carter asked the girl if he could come over the grandmother’s house on May 5 so the two could have sex, but this time he wanted to meet at 6 p.m. Once he arrived, the teen opened the back door, he went inside and upstairs. The grandma grew suspicious and went upstairs to check on the teen. When the grandmother turned on the lights, she found Carter hiding in a closet. The teen girl got scared and ran from the house while Carter tried to explain, prosecutors said.

The teen’s mother came to the house, and both the mother and grandmother refused to accept his explanation, so he left, prosecutors said.

The teen was found later that evening and told her relatives about the relationship with the minister. The mother and pastor of the church met with Carter the next day and confronted him. Carter then apologized for getting too personal, prosecutors said.

He apologized for “getting too personal?” Is that what sexual assault is called these days?

Southern Baptist Pastor Rick Patrick Reveals His True Character in Offensive Post

pastor rick patrick

Rick Patrick is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Sylacauga, Alabama and the executive director of Connect316, a ministry devoted to combating the increasing influence of Calvinism on Southern Baptist churches and seminaries. Of late, the Southern Baptist Convention has been embroiled in controversy over comments made about women and domestic abuse by Paige Patterson, the troglodyte president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 2000, Patterson gave an interview in which he counseled women who were being abused by their spouses to “pray” for their husbands and remain married to them. Patterson, a diehard Fundamentalist complementarian, illustrated his point with a story about how he had given that advice to a woman who had been repeatedly assaulted by her husband. Here’s what he had to say:

Returning some days later with two black eyes, the woman said, “I hope you’re happy.”

I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, I am happy. What she didn’t know when we sat in church that morning, was that her husband had come in and was standing in back, first time he ever came.

In 2014, Patterson related in a sermon how God created women “beautifully and artistically.” He shared with those in attendance a conversation he had with woman and her son. Tom Gjelten a reporter for NPR, writes:

Patterson has also come under fire for a sermon he gave in 2014 about how God created women “beautifully and artistically.” He related a conversation he had with a woman while her son and a friend were standing alongside. As they talked, a teenage girl whom Patterson described as “very attractive” walked by, and one of the boys said, “Man, is she built.”

The woman immediately scolded him, but Patterson said he interjected in the boy’s defense.

“I said, ‘Ma’am, leave him alone,’ ” Patterson recounted. ” ‘He’s just being biblical. That is exactly what the Bible says.’ ”

Yesterday, Washington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey, wrote about a woman who was “encouraged” by Patterson not to report an alleged rape:

She [the victim] said she had been dating the man she alleges raped her and had allowed him into her apartment the night she said he assaulted her. The two were kissing when he forced himself on her, she said. She said she reported it the next morning to the administrator who handled student discipline. That administrator then reported the incident to Patterson, she said, and she was required to meet with Patterson and three or four male seminarians she said were proteges of Patterson’s. She said she doesn’t remember the specific words Patterson used but that he wanted to know every detail of the rape.

Patterson and other administrators did not report the incident to the police, and she claims that Patterson encouraged her not to, as well, she said. The Post confirmed that a report was never filed with the Wake Forest Police Department.

The woman said she was put on probation for two years, but she doesn’t know why, saying it was perhaps because she was with another man alone in her apartment, which was against seminary policy.

“They shamed the crap out of me, asking me question after question,” said the woman, who attended the seminary until 2005 before dropping out for reasons she said were unrelated to the alleged incident. “He didn’t necessarily say it was my fault, but [the sense from him was] I let him into my home.”

The woman said she recalls Patterson telling her to forgive the man who allegedly raped her. The former roommate said the woman described the alleged assault to him shortly after it happened and later complained to him about her treatment by Patterson and seminary officials.

He was not present for her conversations with seminary officials.

“She wants people to know that this happened to her,” said the former roommate, who now works as an emergency room technician in Raleigh, N.C. “She wants people to know how Patterson is and how he thinks about women and abuse. For him to still be in power eats at her soul.”

The woman shared a letter written to her by Southeastern’s dean of students at the time. In the letter, dated April 9, 2003, Allan Moseley told the woman that she would be put on probation after the incident, with suspension or expulsion as possible next steps if there were subsequent behavior the school deemed inappropriate. “It is evident that your memories of moral lapses with [the alleged assailant’s name] cause you sadness and humiliation,” Moseley said in the letter.

….

Today, “outraged” Southwestern Baptist board members voted to remove Patterson as president of the seminary. He will still have some sort of title or position with the seminary. It takes more than a little misogyny for someone as prominent as Patterson to face banishment.

Some Southern Baptist pastors believe Patterson has been treated unfairly, and that his public lynching is the byproduct of the egalitarian, feminist-driven #metoo movement. Rick Patrick is one such man. In a post made in a private forum, Patrick posted this:

rick patrick post

Text:

This all reminds me of the time I saw a donkey being gang raped by Wade Burleson, Ben Cole, Russell Moore, Ed Stetzer, and Jonathan Merritt [five notable pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention]. As the only person who witnessed the act, I knew I should have reported it at the time, but I was afraid. That poor animal! No donkey should have to suffer like that. Sadly, it’s too late for Hee Haw. But after all these years, I cannot keep quiet any longer.

A short while later, Patrick removed his post and made an “apology” for its content:

rick patrick apology

Text:

Earlier today in a closed Facebook group, I made a poor attempt at satire and the crazy climate of our #MeToo world where accusations from years ago are dredged up and used as weapons to attack people. I attempted to use hyperbole and exaggeration to show that anyone can make even the most heinous charge against someone else, and the person charged will always be presumed guilty until proven innocent.

The post only remained up for about two minutes when I took it down realizing it was a poor and inappropriate attempt at humor, but by that time, certain people had already taken a screenshot and it had gone viral. I apologize to the people whose names I mentioned and for the reference to the donkey. It was wrong and inappropriate. I will not post anything like it again. I especially apologize to anyone who felt I was minimizing the reality of the genuine pain many victims have experienced. Even preachers make mistakes, and I made one today. I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.

Patrick, like many pastors, believes that accusations, allegations, and rumors of sexual abuse should be handled as law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts handle criminal acts. No one should say anything until an “investigation” is conducted. Of course, thanks to the Internet and social media, that’s not how things work today.

First, many victims of sexual abuse have gone to the authorities, only to find out that their allegations are either not taken seriously or they can’t be prosecuted due to statute of limitations. Some victims turn to their church or denomination for help, believing that surely followers of Jesus want justice for sexual abuse victims, and, in the case where the perpetrator is a pastor, youth leader, deacon, or some other church leader, victims think that churches and sects will stand with them and oust the abusers from positions of authority. What victims learn, instead, is that many churches and sects are more interested in protecting their “name” and covering their asses than they are making sure that sexual abusers never have an opportunity to prey on people again.

Is it any wonder, then, that sexual abuse victims turn to the court of public opinion for a hearing of their allegations? Patrick is oh, so worried about due process that he fails to understand what it costs women and men when they make public accusations against clergymen and other church leaders. Once they have gone public, concerted efforts are often made to discredit them and stop them from soiling the good name of Pastor ________ and his church. No person in her right mind, knowing what will happen to her, airs allegations of sexual abuse without them being true.

From time to time false allegations are made, but most of the time the stories told by abuse victims are substantially true. In the last eighteen months, I have published almost five hundred posts in the Black Collar Crime series. These posts detail the crimes committed by so-called men of God. While some of the stories report criminal behavior by Catholic clerics, my primary focus is on crimes perpetrated by Evangelical pastors, evangelists, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, ministry workers, and other church leaders. Once brought to trial, these Jesus-loving criminals are almost always found guilty or they plead out. Where, oh where are all the falsely accused and falsely prosecuted stories, Pastor Patrick? Yes, they exist, but worries about a plethora of false allegations are unfounded.

The real worry is over getting social workers, law enforcement, and prosecutors to take seriously allegations of sexual abuse. The tide is turning, so to speak, but there is much that must yet be done when it comes holding sexual abusers accountable, even if, due to statute of limitations, they can’t be prosecuted. By publishing stories on these cases, I try to provide a readily accessible public record that can be easily accessed by churches, daycares, camps, schools, colleges — anywhere predators seek out new victims — before employing someone. Granted, as the recent story about Pastor Rick Orten shows, some churches believe the blood of Jesus washes away all the sins of the past, making it okay to hire rapists, child abusers, and pedophiles, but I’d like to think that most pastors and churches are against having such people in their midst. Christians are free to believe that God forgives sin and the blood of Jesus washes away iniquity, but if they care about their children and teenagers, they must never let wolves inside the doors of their churches, where they will have easy access to young, vulnerable congregants.

Both Patterson and Patrick have profusely apologized for their statements. Patrick later released another apology that said:

The issue I was addressing was the notion that a person appears to be, in the court of public opinion, guilty until proven innocent, in many cases. No, I do not think that #metoo people are crazy. I confess the timing of a specific charge today made me question the charge. But please let me say, and say very clearly, that I am deeply sorry for the hurt that victims of abuse have experienced. I myself was the victim of physical and verbal abuse as a child. I am indeed sensitive to their pain. I was intending to speak only to the presumption of guilt issue with my inappropriate use of humor. I am truly, truly sorry. I will learn from this, and it will not happen again. Please forgive me.

Should Patterson and Patrick be “forgiven” for what they said?  Evangelicals will, of course, accept their pleas for forgiveness. Once the proverbial pound of flesh has been extracted and numerous mea culpas issued, many Evangelicals will declare the matter settled, saying, Patterson and Patrick repented. Jesus forgave them, and we should too. Time to move on! There are souls to save, abortion clinics to picket, and same-sex marriage laws to overturn. This is what Evangelicals do, forgive, forget, and move on!

What people forget is that Paige Patterson and Rick Patrick are skilled public speakers. Neither man is a young preacher just starting out. They have both preached thousands of sermons and stood before countless crowds sharing their opinions and interpretations of this or that Bible verse or moral issue. Men such as Patterson, Patrick, and Bruce Gerencser — back in my preaching days — say what they mean. Their words are carefully chosen. In Patrick’s case, he KNEW his words would cause controversy, yet he said them anyway. Why? Because he wanted to the notoriety controversy would bring. He wanted to make sure everyone knew what he believed. He said what he intended say. His apology means nothing.

When preachers and politicians are forced to make public apologies for something they have said, I generally ignore their apologies. People tend to say what they really believe the first time, and their apologies are more about damage control than they are a sign of changed opinions. Does anyone really believe that these two aged Fundamentalist preachers have changed their views of women, marriage, and sexual assault? Of course not. The things said by Patterson and Patrick are reminders of the pervasive misogynistic, anti-women, anti-feminism beliefs found in the Southern Baptist Convention and other Evangelical sects. The problem is the religion, and Patterson and Patrick are its poster children. While these men will, for a time, face public outrage, they will weather the storm and continue on in the ministry, preaching the gospel and spreading the good news of complementarianism. Because, that’s what good Christians do.

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: Youth Leader Taylor Martin Accused of Attempted Sexual Assault

arrested

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.

Taylor Martin, a youth leader at First-Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, stands accused of attempted sexual assault and child abuse. The Lincoln Journal Star reports  Martin allegedly kissed a twelve-year-old boy and asked to perform a sex act on the child. The boy refused, and later told his counselor about the incident.  Martin no longer works for the church. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.