Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor Stephen Bratton Accused of Sexually Molesting Teenager

stephen bratton

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.

Stephen Bratton, pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, stands accused of sexually molesting a teenage relative.  The Houston Chronicle reports:

A former pastor of a Southern Baptist church in north Harris County faces charges of molesting a teenage relative, sometimes multiple times a day, over the course of two years, court records show.

Stephen Bratton, who resigned from Grace Family Baptist Church in Cypress Station last month, was charged Friday with continuous sexual abuse of a child, Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland said Saturday. The 43-year-old is accused of inappropriate touching that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, Gilliland said.

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Bratton has been an outspoken pro-life advocate, making national news recently for supporting a failed bill that would have made it possible to criminally charge women who terminate their pregnancies.

Bratton came forward to his wife about the abuse on May 15, according to a probable cause document. She called his co-pastors at 4 a.m. to organize a meeting, while Bratton contacted them later that day to say he had “sinned in grievous ways.”

“It was criminal,” said David Shiflet, pastor of the Grace Family Baptist Church in Conroe. “That’s when he came clean.”

The criminal investigation began on May 16 after Bratton allegedly confessed to three Southern Baptist clergy members that he abused the child. Two of Bratton’s co-pastors, Aaron Wright and Erin Frye, met with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at their church on Bammel Westfield Road that same day, while Shiflet said he referred the complaint to the Department of Family Protective Services.

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Bratton has been excommunicated and is no longer receiving a salary from the church, Wright said.

“This person’s life is in such a contradiction to the faith that we see no evidence that they are a Christian,” he continued.

Bratton worked at the Old River Baptist Church in Dayton from 2004 to 2007. He now lists himself as unemployed on his LinkedIn profile.

The pastors declined to talk about Bratton’s family other than to say he was no longer living with his wife and their seven children. Court records show an emergency protection order was granted in the case.

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Grace Family Baptist, a Calvinistic Southern Baptist congregation,  released the following statement:

We are aware of the situation regarding Stephen Bratton and the charges that have been filed against him and of his arrest on June 14th.

Stephen Bratton confessed to Erin Frye and Aaron Wright, both pastors at the church, of sexually abusing a minor in an ongoing way for a number of years on May 16th.  This is the first time this had been brought to the attention of the pastors.

This activity is wrong according to Biblical and civil law and the church condemns the behavior as abhorrent.

The elders immediately filed a police report with Harris County Sheriff’s Office the same day, May 16th.  As the weeks followed the pastors continued to make contact with the detective because they desired the case to be brought forward so that justice would be served.   Once the case began we continued to cooperate fully throughout the investigation.

The elders have called upon Stephen Bratton to accept the full responsibility for his actions and to place himself at the mercy of the criminal justice system.

Stephen is no longer in a position of leadership at the church and is no longer receiving a salary.

Stephen Bratton was also excommunicated by the church the following Sunday, May 19th. Therefore he is no longer a member of the church.

Currently we are working to meet the needs of the family and the victim.

We have deep grief for the victim and have sought to respect the privacy and identity of the victim throughout this process.

Black Collar Crime: IFB School Teacher David Beckner Accused of Sexual Abusing a Student

david beckner

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.

David Beckner, a former teacher at Gaylord Grace Baptist Christian School in Gaylord, Michigan, stands accused of sexually abusing a female student. The Gaylord Herald Times reports:

David Beckner, 51, of West Virginia was arraigned Thursday afternoon in 87th District Court on eight criminal sexual conduct charges for allegedly abusing a teen girl in 2006 and 2007 in Otsego County.

Brendan Curran, Otsego County prosecutor, said the official complaint by Michigan State Police was filed June 13 for sex offenses committed upon a teen in Otsego County.

“I have charged David Wayne Beckner (presently residing in West Virginia) with seven counts of CSC 3rd degree and one count of CSC 4th degree, for seven sexual penetrations and one touching of a minor child who was a student of Beckner’s at the time their relationship began,” Curran said in an email.

According to a Michigan State Police news release Thursday evening, Beckner resides in Morgantown, West Virginia, and turned himself in Thursday. The release also said Beckner worked for the Grace Baptist Church from September 2004 until June 2007 before moving out of state.

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Brianna Kenyon, a former Grace Baptist student, alleges that Beckner abused her as a minor and has publicly shared her story.

“When I grew up in that church, we’re all so isolated from the real world that I always thought I was the only one in the world, let alone in my church, that had ever had anything sexual happen to them. I was so alone for years and years; it wasn’t until I was (into adulthood) that I realized it actually happens a lot.”

Kenyon, 29, said she reported Beckner years ago for criminal sexual conduct to police and to the school’s pastor, Jon Jenkins, in 2011.

In an email, Jenkins said, it would be “a favorable outcome if justice can be achieved for Brianna.” He said, “Grace Baptist Church has always, and continues to stand in favor of justice for the victim.”

Previous Herald Times Freedom of Information Act requests returned no reports from the pastor or church to police of the alleged abuse.

Kenyon said the prosecutor at that time opted to not pursue the case and it was dropped.

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Early this year, Ruthy Nordgren, now an adult, shared her story with the Herald Times and others publicly.
Nordgren is also a former Grace Baptist student and teacher Aaron Willand was convicted in 2016 of abusing her in Washington state.

Nordgren said she is also pursuing charges in Otsego County for abuse that she said happened when she was a student.

“And when Ruthy messaged me (about sharing publicly in the news), I thought, what could it hurt,” Kenyon said. “I couldn’t really get any justice for myself, and I figured if someone could be helped by my story and (they can see) here’s a girl that survived, and I do live a normal life and I do treat others well and I didn’t use this as a reason to be another monster.”

Grace Baptist Church is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

According to the Gaylord Herald Times:

Beckner joins the growing list of people with ties to Grace Baptist Church and school who have been convicted or accused of sexually abusing minors in the last 17 years. Another teacher, a bus driver, youth conference guest speaker and former congregation members are among those already convicted or facing criminal sexual conduct charges.

Despite all of this, Jon Jenkins remains the pastor of Grace Baptist. Last May, Jenkins celebrated his thirty-third anniversary at the church. He has “much” to be grateful for. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

Aaron Willand story

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Missionary Mark Aderholt Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Assault

mark aderholt

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

In December 2018, Southern Baptist missionary and denominational leader Mark Aderholt was indicted for allegedly assaulting a minor two decades ago.  In July 2018, the Baptist Press reported:

Mark Aderholt, a former employee of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and International Mission Board missionary, has been charged in Texas with sexually assaulting a teenager 21 years ago.

Aderholt, 46, was arrested July 3 in South Carolina and booked into the Tarrant County, Texas, jail July 9 on charges of sexual assault of a child under 17, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. He was released July 10 on bond.

The IMB told Baptist Press today (July 16) it learned in 2007 of allegations Aderholt had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old in 1996-97 while he was a 25-year-old student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served with the board from 2000-08.

The IMB conducted an internal investigation in 2007, and the matter was set to go before the board of trustees, “which, at that time, was the only group with the authority to terminate a member of our missionary personnel,” IMB spokesperson Julie McGowan said in written comments. But Aderholt resigned on his own “before the Board could vote on the recommendation from the investigative team that included both men and women,

The IMB has since changed its policies to allow a missionary to be terminated by “staff senior leadership,” McGowan said.

The IMB’s 2007 investigation, including two days of interviews with the alleged victim, led an IMB team to conclude at the time that Aderholt “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teen in 1996-1997, that the victim “suffered as a result” and that Aderholt “was not truthful” with the IMB “about the full extent of the relationship,” according to correspondence to Miller from IMB general counsel Derek Gaubatz published July 13 by the Star-Telegram.

The IMB did not report the incident to law enforcement at the time, McGowan said, because the victim — who has identified herself in a blog post and other forums as author and speaker Anne Marie Miller — said on multiple occasions that she did not want to make a report to police.

Miller “was a grown adult at that time, and we followed her lead,” McGowan said. “We were more than willing to support such action at that time, but she stated that her desire was not to file charges. While some want to exclusively call out IMB for not reporting, keep in mind that neither her parents, her husband at the time, two trained clinical counselors or several other friends with intimate details of what happened reported the matter to police, including several individuals who actually live in Texas where the alleged events took place. We can only assume they approached this matter in the same fashion we did: that, as an adult, this was Ms. Miller’s story to share with local authorities when she was ready. We fully support her taking this step now, and we are cooperating with authorities.”

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Aderholt’s offense allegedly occurred in Arlington, Texas, in 1997, according to the Star-Telegram, and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. An Arlington police spokeswoman told the Star-Telegram she could not release additional information about the case.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary confirmed to BP that Aderholt was a student at the seminary when the crime allegedly was committed. He graduated in 2000 with a master of divinity degree.

The South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) released a statement June 19 announcing Aderholt had resigned after a year and a half as the convention’s associate executive director and chief strategist and that SCBC executive director Gary Hollingsworth received the resignation with “a heavy heart.” The initial statement did not, however, give a reason for the resignation.

After the Star-Telegram reported Aderholt’s arrest, Hollingsworth said in a statement released to BP July 10, “In light of recent news related to Mr. Aderholt, our hearts are grieved and our prayers are with everyone involved.” Hollingsworth told South Carolina’s Baptist Courier newsjournal, “Our hearts are grieved, but we are trusting the authorities.”

Today, Aderholt, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury.  The Houston Chronicle reports:

The judge placed Aderholt on 24 months of deferred adjudication, a form of probation that will not leave a conviction on his record if he successfully completes the term. He was also ordered to spend 30 days in jail beginning Tuesday evening and to pay a $4,000 fine. He prohibited Aderholt from having any form of contact with Miller.

Aderholt’s lawyer, Justin Sparks, stated: “Mark has maintained his innocence from day one. After a probationary term, it ends with a dismissal. Mark agreed to this result because the original allegations were abandoned and for closure.”

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Stephen Houlihan Accused of Sex Crimes

stephen houlihan

Stephen Houlihan, communications pastor at Fellowship of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado, stands accused of sending sexually explicit messages and pictures to a teenage church girl and exploiting his relationship with her.

The Gazette reports:

Stephen Houlihan, 28, was arrested June 7 on suspicion of attempted sexual assault of a child under 15 by one in a position of trust, internet luring of a child with intent to exploit and wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor, all felonies, court records show. He posted $30,000 bond Monday.

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The girl’s family told police they had known Houlihan as a pastor for four to five years and trusted Houlihan, the affidavit says. The family went camping with Houlihan and his wife over Memorial Day weekend, and had gone to Mexico with them the last three years to build houses.

In a June 6 interview with police, the girl said she had met Houlihan at church, where he “does media and is a pastor who sometimes preaches on Sundays,” the affidavit says. She turned 16 in May.

The girl told police that their relationship changed recently — “they had been talking and became closer and now Stephen wanted more to do with her,” the affidavit says. Then for her birthday, she went to his house to play games, and after that, he said “he wanted to start doing more than hanging out.”

They kissed on multiple occasions, and Houlihan told the girl he wanted to have sex with her, the affidavit says.

Houlihan and the girl primarily communicated on Instagram.

He sent her a pictures of his genitals before her birthday “because he wanted her to be happy and feel special,” the affidavit says.

The morning of June 5, the girl’s mother discovered the messages on her daughter’s phone and felt betrayed because the family knew him, the affidavit says.

During an interview with police, Houlihan said that he and the girl had known each other for years, but “they had grown close in the last month to month and a half, becoming best friends, being able to tell each other everything,” the affidavit says. He admitted sending her suggestive messages, which he called a “mistake,” and that he had sent her “more than one and less than five” pictures of his genitals.

He admitted kissing her twice on her birthday — once when he picked her up and once when he took her home — and said that the girl “wanted to go all the way with him,” the affidavit says.

Houlihan began working at the church as a communications designer in June 2013, according to what appears to be his LinkedIn page. He apparently left in September 2015 before returning in January 2017 to be a worship pastor. He became a communications pastor in January 2018.

Black Collar Crime: Pastor David Ray King Charged Sex Crimes Against Children

pastor david ray king

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.

David Ray King, pastor of an unnamed church in Odessa, Texas, was arrested last Friday and charged with indecency with a child, a third-degree felony, Yesterday, King was rearrested and charged with two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony. King is accused of sexually assaulting eight boys numerous times. The boys were aged ten through sixteen.

The Odessa American reports:

King reportedly had the boy expose his genital and buttocks. The 11-year-old stated King would remove him from the shower, while his genitals and buttocks were exposed and dry him off with a towel. The boy stated it made him feel uncomfortable and weird.

King was brought into ECSO for an interview and after he was read his Miranda Warning, he admitted to being engaged in conduct with the 11-year-old that led him to be sexually gratified multiple times, the affidavit stated.

King also reportedly admitted to engaging in conduct that led him to be sexually gratified with seven other boys between 10 and 16 years old.

King stated he’s currently been involved with a 12-year-old boy off and on for the last year and half, the affidavit detailed.

During the interview, King also reportedly admitted to being in possession of multiple images and videos of child pornography on his phone and computers at his residence, an ECSO release stated.

King was arrested, charged and transported to the Ector County Sheriff’s Office. He posted bail on Saturday for $15,000 after he was charged with indecency with a child, jail records show. King has two bonds after he was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child totaling $150,000 and was still in custody as of Tuesday morning, jail records show.

What’s the Point of the Black Collar Crime Series? — Nobody’s Perfect

christians arent perfect black collar crime series

A man who lives not far from my home left the above comment on my Facebook page (if you have not yet LIKED the Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser page, I would appreciate you doing so.) Based on a bit of social media stalking, I have determined the commenter is retired and is a King James-Only Baptist. That he is a Baptist gave me a bit of context as I determined how best to respond to his comment. Last year, emergent church guru Brian McLaren said:

I feel that the role of Baptists — not Cooperative Baptist Fellowship but other Baptists — in doing harm to our nation and world is so great. I really feel well-meaning, sincere people who are deeply committed to the term ‘Baptist’ are often at the forefront of being careless about the environment. They are often at the forefront of being hateful towards Muslims. They are often at the forefront of promoting — unconsciously very often — white supremacy and continuing harm being done to racial minorities. We don’t even need to mention the harm being done to LGBTQ persons.

….

I think one of our great challenges in the Christian religion at large is for Christianity to grow up, to be a world religion meaning not just an American religion and certainly not just a southern or rural American religion, but a religion that grapples with all the challenges of our interconnected world.

In my mind, the underlying issue is actually patriarchy. We could talk about white Christian supremacy, but at the core of this is white, Christian, patriarchal supremacy. It’s a way of organizing life around powerful men.

A whole lot of people are wondering, can the Christian religion extract itself from patriarchy, or is belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so inherently patriarchal that Christians actually believe in a patriarchal universe?

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Watching the success of Donald Trump win over especially white people, and especially white Christians and especially white evangelical and Baptist Christians, in my opinion this is a pivotal moment.

Baptists, those damn Baptists. Their theology fuels the continued support of the pussy-grabbing, adulterous president of the United States, Donald Trump. Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress — both are Baptists — continue to defend Trump against accusations of rape, sexual assault, and adultery. It was primarily the Baptists who held the line of defense for Independent Fundamentalist (IFB) Baptist pervert Roy Moore. (Keep in mind, many generic Evangelical churches are Baptist in everything but their name.) According to Baptist theology, there’s no sinful act that can kick you out of the family of God once Jesus has saved you and the Father has adopted you into his family. This is why more than a few Evangelicals believe that I am still a Christian. Once saved, always saved; once married to Jesus, no divorce. This is why serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy went to heaven when they died. No matter the sin, if your soul has been washed in the blood of Jesus, you are forever a child of God.

Thus, for the aforementioned commenter, there’s no good reason for publishing the Black Collar Crime Series. Yes, Evangelical pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, and church congregants can and do rape women, sexually assault children, and commit all sorts of sexual crimes, and as long as these saved-by-grace Christians are in the flesh, they can and do sin. But, no matter what they do, God will forgive them. That’s what so w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l about Evangelical soteriology; forgiveness is only a prayer away.

Evangelicals are frequently reminded of 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” No matter what Evangelicals do, the most-awesome-God-ever stands ready and willing to grant forgiveness. Awesome, right? No matter how heinous the crime or behavior, Evangelicals are just a prayer away from a clean slate.

The commenter reminds me that all of us are sinners, and that Christians often continue to sin after they are saved. If this is so, why bother to get saved; why read the Bible, pray, tithe, and attend church on Sundays if the new birth doesn’t turn sinners into new creations (as the Bible says it most certainly does)? Of course, according to the commenter, sinning Evangelicals aren’t really to blame for their sinfulness — Satin is. Those damn satin sheets I just knew that they would lead to the fall of the human race. Humor aside, I’m sure the commenter meant SATAN was to blame for the sexual sins and crimes detailed in the Black Collar Crimes Series. Doesn’t the Bible say of believers, “greater is he (God) that is in us than he (Satan) that is in the world?” Doesn’t the Bible say that Christians are overcomers and have victory in Christ? Doesn’t the Bible say that Evangelicals who sin are of the Devil and Christ does not abide in them? Doesn’t the Bible say that faith without (good) works is dead (and I assume sexually assaulting children and raping women are not good works)?

It seems, then, that the commenter has a problem with the Bible. Perhaps his bankrupt Baptist theology has warped his thinking, leading him to believe that Christians can be perverts and adulterers and still make it to God’s Trump Hotel in the Sky®. I wonder if he has read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

And such were (past tense) some of you, the Apostle Paul says.

Revelation 21:27 and 22: 14,15 says:

And there shall in no wise enter into it [New Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

But, what do I know, right? According to the commenter, Satan has deceived me, bringing me down to the level of Evangelical Christians — his words, not mine. Say it isn’t so! How dare the commenter drag me into the Evangelical gutter. My humanistic morality teaches me that raping women, sexually assaulting church teens, and abusing children are bad/harmful behaviors. I value people and, as such, I would not abuse/assault/harm others. I don’t need salvation, and I sure as hell don’t need forgiveness from a mythical deity. I’m more in the Tony Baretta school of life: Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to do the time. (Too bad Robert Blake didn’t follow his own advice.) To the Evangelical sexual abusers, child molesters, and rapists I say this: if you don’t want to be featured in the Black Collar Crime SeriesDON’T DO THE CRIME! It’s really that simple.

Why, then, is there an ever-widening Evangelical sexual abuse scandal? The short answer is this: Baptist theology; the very theology espoused by the aforementioned commenter. When people believe they are weak, helpless sinners in need of God’s power and forgiveness to make it through the day, what do you expect? Churches are filled with people who believe they can’t help themselves; that the flesh and Satan keep them from doing right. Their lives consist of a constant cycle of sin/forgiveness. You might remember what one Catholic priest said when he was arrested for abusing boys: I asked for forgiveness after every time I abused a boy. Evangelicals do the same when they pray for forgiveness AFTER they have harmed others.

God, I have an idea. How about getting the Holy Spirit — who supposedly lives in every believer, teaching, guiding, and directing them in righteousness and holiness (talk about bad job performance!) — to stop believers from harming others BEFORE they do so! Surely, an all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing, always-present God can act like a pre-crime bureau for Christians, stopping them from committing crimes before they do them. How hard can it be, God?

As for the WHY of the Black Collar Crime series, let me conclude this post with an excerpt from a previous post titled, Why I Write The Black Collar Crime Series :

I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s traffic and publishing these reports I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.

Sadly, many clerics have enormous power over people. How else do we explain that repeat abusers of children and sexual predators such at Lester Roloff, Jack Patterson, and Mack Ford — to name a few — never spent a day in jail for their crimes? Mack Ford, in particular, spent decades physically and psychologically destroying teenagers, yet, thanks to his connections in the community, he was never prosecuted for his crimes.(Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for GirlsTeen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your SinWhat Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?)

Sometimes these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not before the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is case in point. Decades of reports about abuse were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?

I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the nine years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on two fingers the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused. Two, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct.

People often believe that “men of God” would never, ever commit such crimes. One common thread in the crimes committed by Jack Schaap, Bill Wininger, Josh Duggar, David Farren, and a cast of thousands, is that family and fellow Christians were absolutely CERTAIN that these men of God could/would never commit the crimes with which they were charged. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence, their supporters, with heads in the sand, refuse to believe that these servants of Jesus did the perverse things they are accused of. (Please see What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were AbusedEvangelicals Use ‘We Are All Sinners’ Argument to Justify Sexual Abuse)

Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal. I remember when the Catholic sex scandal came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problem with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

To the commenter I say, instead of getting all peachy-preachy about the Black Collar Crime Series, how about focusing your outrage on the sex crimes and cover-ups that are being committed by pastors, deacons, evangelists, missionaries, choir directors, worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, janitors, bus drivers, preschool teachers, school principals, high school teachers, and church board members in scores of Evangelical churches, including Independent Fundamentalist Baptist congregations. Instead of being all worked up over the messenger, how about focusing on the message? Ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Don’t know what Jesus would do? Let me leave you with Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42: “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 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.

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Black Collar Crime: Presbyterian Pastor William Weaver Accused of Sexual Abuse

pastor william weaver

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

William Weaver, pastor of Linden Presbyterian Church in Linden, New Jersey, stands accused of sexually abusing several men.

NJ.com reports:

The Rev. Dr. William Weaver, who spent nearly 40 years as pastor of Linden Presbyterian Church, allegedly performed oral sex on the men as part of a ritual he said would free them from evil spirits, the report said. He used gemstones, feathers, metal strips, an angel coin and plastic bags in elaborate “exorcism” he said was taught to him by Native Americans.

….

The men who said Weaver sexually abused them gave similar accounts, dating back to 1999, the report said. He cited a passage in the Bible calling on people to use the “full armor of God” to fight the Devil.

hey said the minister would ask them to undress completely, then he would place gemstones, the coin and magnetic strip on their bodies and use a feather to scan them from head to toe. The minister would perform oral sex on them, then spit metal or plastic into a plastic bag that he said came from the men’s bodies, the report said.

The Presbytery of Elizabeth said they have received multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Weaver.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Jerred Peacock Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor

jerred peacock

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.

Jerred Peacock, a youth pastor at Living Waters Church in Estero, Florida, was arrested last October on charges of sexually assaulting a minor church girl. Months later, Peacock violated the judge’s no-contact order and had his bond revoked.

The Naples Daily News reported at the time:

A warrant affidavit from the State Attorney’s Office alleges Peacock, 34, was in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl between March 2018 and August 2018 while he was still a youth pastor at Living Waters Church in Estero.

Lee County deputies arrested Peacock on Oct. 12 and he was released the next day on a $100,000 bond. On Oct. 13, Lee Circuit Judge John Duryea issued a no-contact order, court records show.

On Jan. 28, Lee Circuit Judge Bruce Kyle denied a motion to set aside the no-contact order.

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A hearing to revoke Peacock’s bond was held Monday at 1:30 p.m. and Peacock was arrested later that afternoon. Peacock remains in custody at the Lee County Justice Center.

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Special Victims Unit detectives interviewed the girl in August, and she at first denied any sexual relationship. In a second interview later that month, she told detectives that Peacock on several occasions had touched her genitals and made her touch his, including at his home when his wife was at work.

After Peacock’s original arrest, Wink News reported:

A former youth pastor in Lee County, who once hosted an event preaching purity to teens, has been accused of sexually assaulting a girl. The pastor led the spiritual lives of children at his church for months. He has been released from jail and faces trial this month.

….

Living Waters told WINK News in a statement, “[They are] extremely saddened and express our deepest sympathy to any and all victims of sexual misconduct. All employees at [Living Waters Church] go through an extensive background check with character references.”

Dustin Lotz, a congregation member at the church, is looking for more evidence to be made public before he makes a personal judgment call on the actions the former pastor is being accused of.

“I don’t know anything about the facts,” Lotz said. “I know lately there’s been a lot of media, a lot of sexual accusations, so it’s hard … It’s really hard just to have a knee-jerk reaction to the news.”

Lotz and his family attend the church, and he is worried about how it may impact the congregation.

“If it is true, it’s not something that would be good for the church,” Lotz said. “It’s something they would have to talk against.”

Peacock’s attorney spoke to WINK News and said the allegations against his client are not true. He is “pretty convinced [Peacock] will be absolved of any wrongdoing in the end.”

On May 20, 2019, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years state probation with no additional jail time. As part of his plea agreement, Peacock will have to register as a sex offender and enroll in a sexual offender treatment program.

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor John McFarland Charged with Molesting Seven Children

pastor john mcfarland

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

Previous posts about McFarland can be read here and here.

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

Fox-11 reports:

John Rodgers McFarland, who has been the head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton since 2014, was arrested on a warrant Thursday charging him with seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 and four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor 14 to 15 years old.

The 56-year-old Fullerton resident is accused of molesting the children between 2003 and 2017, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, which did not release the genders of the alleged victims.

….

McFarland, who’s being held in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail, faces up to 179 years to life in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

In San Diego County, McFarland was arrested and charged in December with molesting a girl younger than 14 in Escondido between 2012 and 2013. The alleged molestation occurred when he was visiting relatives, said Lt. Chris Lick of the Escondido Police Department.

McFarland is due in court in San Diego June 18 for a pretrial hearing and July 9 for a preliminary hearing, according to Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the D.A.’s office in San Diego County.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Incest Caused by “Immodest” Dress

gerald collingsworth

The entire eighteenth chapter of Leviticus is on nakedness. Although most Christians still consider bestiality as being wrong, they no longer consider homosexuality as being wrong or dressing improperly as being wrong. Many see nothing wrong with dressing scantily. Many see nothing wrong with mixed bathing, yet God calls it an abomination. How many cases of incest have taken place in homes where passions have been inflamed by immodesty among family members? How many boys and girls have been raised in homes that practiced immodest dress and now live lives of promiscuity?

— Gerald B. Collingsworth, Independent Baptist, Right Living is Not Legalism, May 18, 2019

Gerald Collingsworth is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church (an IFB congregation) in Mogadore, Ohio

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

charles sweet

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

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

The Hays Free Press reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update

The Statesman reports:

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

 

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

pastor john mcfarland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KTLA reports:

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

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

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

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