Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Richard Micks Second Rape Trial Declared a Mistrial

richard mick

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

(Previous posts about Richard Mick: Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Richard Mick has Rape Conviction Overturned and Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Richard Mick Faces New Trial, Out on Bond and Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Richard Mick on Trial Again for Rape)

Earlier this week, Richard Mick, the former pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandusky, Ohio — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — was on trial again, facing 12 felony accounts for crimes allegedly committed against three children. Mick was previously convicted on these charges and sentenced to life in prison. During his trial, his attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, refused to participate in Mick’s defense. An Ohio appeals court, citing ineffective counsel, overturned Mick’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Surprisingly, K. Ronald Bailey is still Mick’s attorney.

Today, Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone declared a mistrial, saying evidence withheld from the defense the prosecution could hurt Mick’s right to due process.

The Sandusky Register reports:

On Thursday, following two full days of testimony, including from all three victims, the trial came to an abrupt halt.

Defense attorney Meredith O’Brien made a mistrial motion in the morning after speaking to a Sandusky police detective who was about to be called as a defense witness. The detective provided the defense copies of police reports related to the investigation.

Included in those reports was a March 2019 Sandusky report detailing the detective’s interview with a relative of one victim, who already testified. That report was not given to defense attorneys by the prosecution during the evidence discovery process, O’Brien said.

During the interview, the relative provided information that was apparently inconsistent with the victim’s testimony in the trial. Tone said he also read the report, and said it details “more serious accusations than what the defendant was charged with.” Mick was indicted across two cases, merged into one for trial, in 2014 and 2016.

O’Brien argued that if the defense had that police report prior to the trial, it would have changed their entire strategy.

“Every witness would have been questioned differently,” O’Brien said. “This entire trial is now infected.”

Assistant Erie County prosecutor Paulette Lilly did not deny that the report wasn’t provided to the defense but argued the report shouldn’t be grounds for a mistrial as the allegations of one victim don’t affect those of the other two victims.

“The report is not an interview with a victim,” she said. “It’s the recollection of (the relative’s) conversation with (the victim) three years earlier. It’s not a statement of (the victim’s.)”

After hearing arguments from both sides, Tone decided that the incident hurt Mick’s right to due process and ruled a mistrial. He said they will eventually set a pretrial hearing to discuss details of the new trial.

Currently, Mick is out on bond. Hopefully, the third time is a charm, and once the iron jail doors finally clang shut on the “good” pastor, they will remain shut.

Previous Sandusky Register article about the trial.

Black Collar Crime: Former IFB Principal Laverne Fox Charged with Sex Crimes

busted

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 Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and its pastor Bruce Goddard: Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo Victor Monteiro Accused of Sexual Abuse, Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Victor Monteiro Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Crimes, Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo “Victor” Monteiro Sentenced to Five Years in Prison, and Pastor Bruce Goddard and His Bait and Switch Tactics)

Former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian school principal Laverne Fox was arrested on July 1, 2019, in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Fox faces extradition to California, where he will face two counts of lewd acts with a child and two other sexual misconduct charges.

Fox was the principal at the private school operated by Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

After his [Laverne Fox] accuser, Kathy Durbin, told pastor Bruce Goddard in 1992 about the sexual abuse and grooming she faced over a span of two years by Fox, Goddard moved Fox to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.

….

Durbin told the Star-Telegram that Fox began grooming her for sex at a young age. In public Facebook posts, she wrote how she thought she had a father-daughter type relationship with Fox.

She realized later that was part of the grooming, she wrote. Fox began having sex with her when she was 15.

During the 1992 conversation with Goddard, Durbin said she dramatically told him that Fox and her had kissed so he would know something more was happening. She was disturbed and confused by the encounters.

Durbin was later forced to attend counseling and write an apology to Fox’s wife.

 

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Richard Mick on Trial Again for Rape

richard mick

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

(Previous posts about Richard Mick: Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Richard Mick has Rape Conviction Overturned and Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Richard Mick Faces New Trial, Out on Bond)

Richard Mick, the former pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandusky, Ohio — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation — is on trial again, facing 12 felony accounts for crimes allegedly committed against three children. Mick was previously convicted on these charges and sentenced to life in prison. During his trial, his attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, refused to participate in Mick’s defense. An Ohio appeals court, citing ineffective counsel, overturned Mick’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Surprisingly, K. Ronald Bailey is still Mick’s attorney.

The Sandusky Register reported today:

The trial for Castalia resident Richard Mick, 58, who previously served as the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, entered its first day of testimony Tuesday in Erie County common pleas court under Judge Tygh Tone. He faces 12 felony charges — two counts of rape and 10 counts of gross sexual imposition — for crimes allegedly committed against three children.

The first victim to testify, a woman, said that on separate occasions, Mick forced her to perform oral sex on him and raped her. All of the alleged crimes occurred in or near the church, at its former location on Milan Road.

She testified the sexual misconduct occurred between 1999 and 2002, when she was younger than 8 years old. She testified she felt Mick was an authority figure over her, and told a person, not related to her, about the alleged abuse years before police became involved, but nothing was done.

“I believe I went to (Mick’s) office to ask about salvation,” she testified, in regards to the alleged oral sex incident. “He, in a way, said that if I would do that I would be forgiven for my sins.”

The woman’s former therapist also testified, stating he diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another victim, a man, testified that Mick inappropriately touched him when he was about 10 years old. The man testified Mick told him he was looking for rashes after he’d urinated himself.

The alleged sexual conduct involving the man occurred at the church’s current Cleveland Road location.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jose Aboytes Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

pastor jose aboytes

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

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

The Herald & Review reported at the time:

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

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

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

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

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

In April 2019, Aboytes pleaded guilty to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The Herald & Review reported:

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

Today, Aboytes was sentenced to 40 years in prison. The Herald & Review reports:

Jose L. Aboytes will have to serve the sentence at 85 percent before he is eligible for parole, which means the 60-year-old defendant will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. He had pleaded guilty to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13. Prosecutors have said the assaults took place between September 2015 and September 2016 while he was serving Palabra Miel Hispanic Church.

Aboytes had originally pleaded not guilty to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault at a jury trial that got underway April 23. But on the second day of the trial, Aboytes accepted a plea deal to admit to the single charge, and the others were dropped.

At his sentencing hearing today, Aboytes told the judge, “I have lost many things: I lost my home and I lost my wife for a small error, a mistake.”

A small error, a mistake . . .

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Joseph “Jack” Baker Accused of Sexual Assault

joseph jack baker

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

Joseph “Jack” Baker, pastor of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford, Michigan, stands accused sexually assaulting a child.

The Oakland Press reports:

Father Joseph “Jack” Baker, 57, is on an electronic tether following his arraignment July 8 in 29th District Court, according to the Wayne County Jail website. Judge Laura Redmond Mack assigned a $500,000 personal bond at arraignment, which doesn’t require bail to be posted.

Baker, pastor of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford since 2008, is one of six metro Detroit priests facing sexual abuse charges as part of an ongoing investigation by the state’s attorney general’s office. He was arrested July 8 in Wayne County and is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct – sexual penetration with a person under 13 years old, multiple variables. Court records list the offense date as Feb. 1, 2004.

Baker is also a former associate pastor at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills and Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn, and former pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne. He also was administrator at St. Benedict in Waterford in 2011, campus minister at Wayne State Medical School Campus Ministry and administrator at three churches in Inkster. He was ordained in 1993.

Attorney General Dana Nessel is calling the case “just the tip of the iceberg,” and said her office is reviewing “hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and files” seized last fall from Michigan’s seven diocese.

Black Collar Crime: Mennonite Aid Worker Jeriah Mast Accused of Sex Crimes

jeriah mast

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.

Jeriah Mast, a former Mennonite aid worker for Christian Aid Ministries in Berlin, Ohio, stands accused of sexually abusing five minor boys. More charges await him in Haiti.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

Jeriah Mast, 37, of Millersburg, Ohio, was indicted Monday by a Holmes County grand jury for offenses that occurred in that county, according to the indictment. Mr. Mast turned himself in to the Holmes County jail on Tuesday evening and is being held on a bond of $250,000 cash surety, according to the jail. He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday afternoon.

He faces seven felony charges of gross sexual imposition and seven misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition.

He is accused of sexual offenses against five different minors.

he charges of felonies are for alleged offenses against minors under 13, and the charges of misdemeanors are for alleged offenses against minors under 16. The indictment says that the offenses took place between 1999 to 2008.

A Haitian court is seeking Mr. Mast’s return to that country for him to face similar allegations. He left Haiti this spring after allegations arose of his sexually abusing minor boys over a period of years. A Haitian attorney told the Post-Gazette he represents five alleged victims of Mr. Mast.

Christian Aid Ministries of Berlin, Ohio — which is supported by various Mennonite, Amish and related groups — said in an earlier statement it “promptly discharged” Mr. Mast earlier this year when it learned of recent allegations against him in Haiti. He has not yet returned to appear before the Haitian court in the city of Petit-Goave to face the allegations.

Both Christian Aid Ministries and Mr. Mast’s church said he made confessions of sexual offenses.

The ministry placed two of its leading staff members on leave last month after its board learned that they knew as far back as 2013 that Mr. Mast had confessed to “sexual activity with young men that had taken place several years prior,” yet allowed him to remain at work for the ministry until this year.

Did you catch the fact that two Christian Aid Ministries staff members were put on leave for failing to report Mast’s predatory sexual activity with young men? Put on leave? Really? How about firing and excommunicating them for helping to facilitate the ongoing abuse of Haitian children?

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Worker Heather Matuszek Charged with Molesting Teen Girl

heather matuszek

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.

Heather Matuszek, a former youth worker at Clearwater Community Church in Dunedin, Florida and a Chick-fil-A franchisee, has been charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.

Fox-13 reports:

Detectives arrested and charged Heather Matuszek, 32, of Dunedin, with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. They say Matuszek has admitted to two occasions of the alleged abuse, which the victim said happened in 2014 when Matuszek was a youth leader at Clearwater Community Church.

The incidents happened outside of the church setting, investigators said, adding contact between leaders and youths outside of the church is not uncommon.

According to her victim, who was 15 years old at the time, Matuszek, then 28, slept in the victim’s bed two separate nights.

The victim reported Matuszek kissed her face and rubbed her arms, body, and breast area, over her clothing.

The victim also said there were other incidents involving Matuszek outside of Pinellas County, which the sheriff’s office said are being investigated by the relevant agencies.

Detectives say Matuszek no longer attends Clearwater Community Church, however, there may be other victims who go to the church.

Clearwater Community Church pastor Josh Kee released the following statement:

We are greatly concerned for the victim and her family and the impact this has had on them and our church community. We are committed to ensuring that the children and youth who participate in our ministries are protected and nurtured. Our priority at this time is to support and care for the victim and her family and we will do all that is necessary to support any resulting investigation.

Black Collar Crime: IFB School Teacher Shannon Griffin Charged with Sexual Assault

shannon griffin

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 see Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Thomas Griffin Leaves His Wife’s Alleged Crimes in the Lord’s Hands)

Shannon Griffin, an IFB pastor’s wife and a kindergarten teacher at Jordan Baptist School in Burbank, Illinois, was arrested Monday and charged with sexual assault and solicitation of child pornography. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Shannon Griffin, 49, of Oak Lawn, a teacher at Jordan Baptist School, was taken into custody Monday after a monthslong investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators allege that Griffin “engaged in sexual conduct” with a male underage student who was enrolled at the school, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Griffin is also charged with sending nude pictures and videos of herself to that minor and another juvenile at the school, both males, and asking the minors to send her images, according to the sheriff’s office.

The alleged conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of this year, police said.

Griffin, who is also charged with distribution of harmful materials and grooming, is expected to appear in bond court on Wednesday.

….

The investigation began in early March when the Burbank Police Department received an anonymous tip, according to Burbank police records obtained through a public records request. The tipster also told police that the school pastor, who is married to Griffin, and the principal were made aware about the inappropriate videos and images, according to the police records.

….

During an interview with detectives, the student said that a female teacher sent images and videos showing a woman “removing her clothing and exposing her breasts and vagina,” according to Burbank police records. The student also gave police a Samsung Galaxy tablet, which he said he used to make copies of the messages, the police records indicate.
Burbank detectives who reviewed the messages noted the images did not show “a visible head or face of the female,” according to Burbank police reports.

Jordan Baptist School is owned and operated by Jordan Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. Jordan Baptist is pastored by Thomas Griffin, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College. Currently, both the church and school websites are down. A cached page says the following about Pastor Griffin:

Thomas Griffin, Pastor of Jordan Baptist Church, Burbank, Illinois, was born in Toledo, Ohio. He is a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College and previously worked for his home church of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, Temperance, Michigan; and as an Assistant Pastor of Jordan Baptist Church for five years. Pastor Griffin was called to Jordan Baptist Church in 1997. Since becoming pastor, Jordan Baptist Church has seen great advancements both numerically and spiritually. Several new ministries have also been started under his pastoral leadership.

He and his wife Shannon have been married since 1991 and have three daughters: ***, ***, and ***. He loves his church and has a tremendous burden for the Chicago area, and even through busy ministries and growth, Jordan Baptist Church has maintained its close-knit family atmosphere with a passion for serving people.

Griffins’ adult daughters also teach at Jordan Baptist School — an unaccredited institution.

Update, July 3, 2019

The Chicago Tribune reports Shannon Griffin had her first court appearance today. Lori Levin, Griffin’s attorney,  said her client “vehemently denies that it’s her in the photos.”

Cook County Judge John Mahoney ordered Griffin held on a $750,000 bond. He also ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victims in the case or with any minors.

ABC-7 reports:

Police said the inappropriate conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of 2019. Prosecutors said there are two victims. The first is a male student who was between 15 and 17 during the alleged crimes. Prosecutors said Griffin and the student had sex five times, often in her minivan in an industrial park, and a sixth time after he graduated. It was usually in exchange for a bottle of alcohol.

“In 2013, the victim asked the defendant on Snapchat if she would get a bottle. The defendant said, ‘Yes, if we have sex,'” Gruca said.

The second victim was a 16-year-old student who prosecutors said communicated with Griffin over Snapchat several times. The victim started taking screenshots of several pictures and video Griffin allegedly sent him, “One picture depicts the front of the defendant from the neck down in her bra and underwear with a message written across the picture, ‘warm out of the shower missing uuuu,'” Gruca said.

Both victims also told investigators Griffin has a tattoo of an arrow on her left hip. Griffin’s attorney did not answer whether or not Griffin has the tattoo after the judge asked her in court today.

After hearing the details the judge said, “This is a horrible betrayal. It boggles my mind…what a betrayal.”

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.

….

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.

….

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.

….

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.

….

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.

….

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.”

….

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.

….

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.