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Tag: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Brian Couch Sentenced to 105 Years in Prison

brian couch

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 2019, Brian Couch, family pastor at Yorktown Church of the Nazarene in Yorktown, Indiana and a school nurse for Yorktown Community Schools, was arrested on the suspicion of ” 20 counts of child molesting, a Level 4 felony, eight counts of child molesting, a Level 1 felony, and one count of rape, a Level 3 felony.” (RTV-6) Couch is no longer employed by the church or school.

Couch’s Facebook page also lists him as a pastor at R.I.O.T Family Ministries — Righteous Invasion of Truth.

Yorktown Church of the Nazarene pastor Marty Ballard released the following statement:

The Yorktown Church of the Nazarene is crushed by the recent situation regarding one of our former ministers and church member. We pray for healing. We will cooperate with all legal authorities and continue to pray for our schools, our children, our community and our churches.

We condemn all inappropriate behavior or action that does not condone [sic] to legal authorities and the laws which God has given.

According to news reports, the abuse began when the victim was as young as six-years-old.

In a surprising move, law enforcement arrested Couch’s wife, Londa, on charges of failure to report child abuse and neglect of a dependent. These charges suggest Brian Couch likely abused a family member. The Couch’s have two teen daughters. Londa Couch later pleaded guilty to failure to report and received a suspended sentence. The Couch’s divorced in 2020.

On July 14, 2021, Brian Couch pleaded guilty.

The Star Press reported:

A Yorktown man on Wednesday pleaded guilty to three counts of child molesting that have the potential to keep him incarcerated for the rest of his life.

….

An affidavit accompanying the first nine charges filed against Couch — seven counts of child molesting, and single counts of attempted child molesting and sexual misconduct with a minor — alleged he had sexually abused a girl “almost daily” over a period of several years beginning when she was six years old.

Last summer, the Yorktown man was charged with three more molesting counts, alleging he had fondled three girls — two of them in their pre-teens, and one when she was 13 — when they visited his home between 2012 and 2016.

In Delaware Circuit Court 4 on Wednesday afternoon, Couch pleaded guilty to three of the molesting charges — two of them Class A felonies with maximum 50-year prison terms, and one Level 1 felony, in most instances carrying a maximum 40-year sentence.

….

The deal would prevent Couch’s accusers [victims] from having to recount the sexual abuse on the witness stand,

Last week, November 10, 2021, Couch was sentenced to 105 years in prison.

WTHR-13 reports:

Former pastor and school nurse Brian Couch was sentenced to 105 years in prison Wednesday on multiple child molest charges.

During the hearing, one of Couch’s victims testified and described the pain and suffering she endured as a result of his years of molestation and abuse. According to his victim, the sexual molestation began when she was 6 years old and took place repeatedly. 

She said the “sound of [his] footsteps coming to my bedroom door made me nauseous.” She then told Couch: “You made choices that will stick with me for the rest of my life – you hurt and abused me – you are mean, angry and used and abused almost everyone and everything in your life.”

According to a probable cause affidavit, Brian Couch called the Yorktown Police Department in 2019 to report his own criminal activity.

“Couch said that he wanted to tell police about his inappropriate behavior so that his family could move on,” Yorktown police officer Ryan Jaromin wrote in a report filed with Delaware County Courts.  

….

Prosecutors had asked for Couch to be sentenced to 150 years in prison. Deputy Prosecutor Arnold told the Court that “other kids are put to bed and told that monsters don’t exist, but the victim here was forced to live with hers. Brian Couch is the proverbial monster under the bed. The victims are serving a life sentence, he deserves one too.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Rick Iglesias Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

pastor rick iglesias

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

In July 2019, Rick Diego Iglesias, the former senior pastor of Pleasant Valley Church in Winona, Minnesota, was charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault, including heightened charges because the good pastor held a position of authority over the victim.

The Winona Post reported at the time:

In late July, Winona Police Department investigators interviewed the alleged victim, who reported that he or she was repeatedly abused and raped over roughly three years, from 2010 to 2012, according to the criminal complaint.

Iglesias served as the senior pastor at Winona’s Pleasant Valley Church from 1994 to 2014 and more recently worked as a pastor in Mars, Penn. In a statement, Pleasant Valley Church Senior Pastor Chad Ellenburg called the news “devastating.” He wrote, “We are heartbroken for [Iglesias’] wife, Nancy, and son, Brennan, as we cannot imagine the pain and devastation they are experiencing at this time. We are also hurting for the victim, but thankful that they had the courage to come forward. We are praying for them as well as anyone who might be affected here at Pleasant Valley or in this community.”

“We are also deeply grieved that our former pastor, by his actions and deception, failed to faithfully represent Jesus Christ and his Gospel,” Ellenburg continued. “We have done, and will continue to do, everything we can to fully cooperate with the authorities. We will also continue to support and pray for the family, the victim, and those who will carry the responsibility of pursuing justice in this situation.”

In 2007, Iglesias was interviewed by Trevin Wax for a The Gospel Coalition article. TGC has removed the article from their site, but I was able to find a cached copy of the interview. Here’s an excerpt:

I began by asking Rick about his spiritual background and his call to ministry. Rick grew up in a family environment that took seriously the commands of God. Though his family was Roman Catholic, Rick believes his early family life equipped him for future service in the way that “God was honored, prayer was valued, the church was central and service to others was modeled.” Rick’s religious upbringing shaped his values and experiences.

Rick came to saving faith in Christ during his freshman year in college through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. During those years in college, Rick was discipled by other Christians and through his experiences he received a “greater vision for God’s purpose in the world and my part in that.”

As he began participating in local church ministry and foreign mission trips, Rick began to sense the Lord speaking to him about a calling to full-time ministry. To clarify this call, Rick spent extended times in the Word seeking to discern God’s call on his life. “I recall spending a weekend away during my senior year in college with a pastor friend, and as he prayed over me, he prayed a simple prayer, but one that the Lord used at that point in my life: ‘Rick, be like Jesus! Have compassion on the troubled, helpless crowds that have no Shepherd! Be ashamed to die until you have won a major victory for the unreached of the world.’” God used the encouragement and support of godly men around Rick to clarify his calling. “I’ve always believed that you need a specific call not to be in ministry. God calls us to change the world. I believe He called me through circumstances, the Word, people in my life, and an inner peace that continues to this day,” he says boldly. Though Rick understood that God had called him to the ministry, he had some doubts as to how that would all take place. He served full-time at a church for seven years in a college ministry before going to seminary. His journey to seminary was a leap of faith, for he had no money, time, or desire to devote four years to study. Yet, the Lord spoke through his Word and through the generosity of faithful Christians supplied all his financial needs while in seminary.

“Every time that God has spoken and I have tried to respond with obedience, He has more than met me where I needed Him to be,” he testifies.

Rick has never faced any doubts about being in full-time ministry, although rough leadership meetings or discouraging emails occasionally threaten to steal his focus. During the tough moments of ministry, Rick is sustained by the transformation he sees taking place in his people’s lives. “We have front row seats to the life-transforming acts of God!” he says. Being in ministry is a privilege.

When asked about the necessary character traits that Scripture demands of church leaders, Rick mentions two that encompass many others: a passion for God and a compassion for people. “If you have a passion for God, you will be honest and faithful, and you will love the Word, live out your faith, and develop a whole host of traits that God calls us to exhibit as we walk with Him. If you have compassion for people, you will be compassionate and patient, passionate toward the lost, and a whole host of other traits that we need to model in our relationships with people.” The rubric of “loving God” and “loving people” comes from Jesus himself. Therefore, Rick believes that our character traits will come from this perspective.

Rick’s personal struggle is maintaining an “all-consuming passion for God” every day. Though he prays and spends time in the Word, he finds that a burning passion for God’s presence often eludes him. Rick’s goal is to “be connected to Jesus each and every day, to walk so closely that I hear his heartbeat for the lost, for the least, for the lonely, for those that he places in my path.” Keeping that desire at the forefront of his spiritual life is his deepest struggle.

Rick mentions several ways he protects himself from temptation. He meets with two pastor friends every week for accountability. “I have been meeting with these pastors for over 12 years now, so we are transparent and free to share some of the ugliest aspects of our lives,” he says. He also has safeguards on the computer to ensure that internet pornography does not become a snare. He carries a small card in his wallet that lists all the blessings that come from his ministry and what would happen if he were to fall. “Remember – temptation is an opportunity to do good!” he says.

When asked about temptations that plague other ministers, he lists off character flaws and actions such as selfishness, pride, being an overbearing authority figure, compromising integrity, lack of sexual purity, and lacking balance between ministry and family.

…..

Iglesias resigned from Pleasant Valley Church in 2014. The Winona Post reported at the time:

Although he seems too humble to admit it, Rick Iglesias is the kind of man who cannot walk into a room without a few people rushing over to greet him with a strong handshake or an enthusiastic hug. Iglesias’ magnetism can be attributed to many things, from his friendly demeanor to his ever-present grin, but for many, it is his service as lead pastor of Pleasant Valley Church (PVC) for 20 years that stands out above all. “Our focus is to have a real, strong community presence,” Iglesias said. “[We try to have a] positive impact on the community in many ways.”

After resigning from his position this past fall, Iglesias is still very much active in the Winona community, evidenced from his time spent at Winona Senior High School (WSHS) talking to Spanish classes, as well as the abundance of people who make an effort to stop and thank him for his service over the years. His continued community involvement is not surprising; Iglesias and his wife Nancy have called Winona and PVC home since moving to Southeast Minnesota from suburban Chicago in October of 1994. For the past 20 years they have built a life together that includes their son, Brennan, a senior at WSHS, so it will be a bittersweet moment when Iglesias and his family move sometime after Brennan’s graduation in the spring. “When my wife and I came to Winona, we wanted to get involved in the community,” Iglesias explained. “We want to give back to Winona as much as we can.”

Over his tenure as lead pastor Iglesias has helped to shape the lives of people across many demographics, but he admitted to holding a special affinity toward young adults in the community, including college students and those with young families. “We have really strong ministries with youth,” he explained. “We try to make Christianity practical and accessible.” Prior to arriving in Winona, Iglesias worked at a college ministry, and was surprised at the lack of involvement between the church and Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University and Minnesota State College–Southeast Technical. “Here’s a town with three colleges and frankly, there was not a lot going on,” Iglesias remembered thinking. “We need to focus on the next generation.” In the coming years Iglesias, along with fellow PVC administrators and members, focused on how to involve the younger population of Winona, and started initiatives such as ministries aimed at middle school, high school and college students, Monday night contemporary service, and classes to help with money management and other life skills. “I’ve had college students come up to me and tell me ‘PVC has made all the difference [in] my college experience,’” Iglesias said. “There is no success without successors.”

….

In July 2021, Iglesias pleaded guilty to criminal sexual misconduct.

The Winona Post reported at the time:

Former Winona pastor Rick Diego Iglesias pled guilty today to repeatedly sexually abusing a child under 16, but whether he will be sentenced to prison time remains to be seen.

Iglesias, the 66-year-old former pastor of Pleasant Valley Church, was charged in 2019 with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct after the victim told Winona Police Department investigators they were repeatedly abused from 2010 to 2012. A witness, Iglesias’ former boss at a Pennsylvania church, testified that Iglesias admitted to the crimes. Iglesias was charged with the highest-level sex crimes under Minnesota law because, prosecutors initially alleged, he held “a position of authority” over the victim and the victim was under 16. He pled not guilty earlier this year.

Under a plea deal announced today, the Winona County Attorney’s Office dropped the three original, first-degree charges, and Iglesias pled guilty to a lower but still serious charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Iglesias admitted he held a “significant relationship” over the victim beyond just being a pastor, and that the victim was under 16 at the time. Iglesias admitted to multiple instances of sexually abusing the minor over an extended period of time.

“Your reason for [pleading guilty] is primarily that you don’t want to put the victim through the trauma of having a trial, is that correct?” defense attorney Kurt Knuesel asked his client. “Yes,” Iglesias testified.

The plea deal leaves Iglesias’ sentence to be determined. The maximum sentence is 25 years in prison, and Leahy said the presumptive sentence in this case would be 7.5-15 years in prison. The three charges that were dropped carried penalties of up to 30 years each.

Knuesel hopes to persuade the court to sentence Iglesias to probation alone, with a stayed sentence hanging over his head if he violates probation. Prosecutor Christina Galewski said she’ll seek prison time.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

The Winona Post reports:

A two-year-long criminal case came to an emotional end on Wednesday as Judge Mary Leahy sentenced former Winona pastor Rick Diego Iglesias, 66, to nine years in prison for the crime of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He pleaded guilty earlier this summer to abusing a child under 16, over whom he had a position of authority, many times between 2010 and 2012. The Winona Police Department and Winona County Attorney’s Office first brought charges in September 2019 after the victim came forward.

Earlier this summer, Leahy kept open the option of probation without prison time, and at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing mental health professionals testified that Iglesias was at low risk of reoffending. However, representing the victim’s wishes, Assistant County Attorney Christina Galewski pushed for the nine-year sentence Leahy ultimately agreed to.

Leahy said Iglesias’ position as a well-respected pastor “provided a mask” that partly enabled his abuse to go unnoticed and his crime hurt the community as well as the victim. She stressed the gravity of his offense. “It didn’t happen just once or twice, but many times over a period of time,” she said. Leahy continued, “You held a position of trust, and you violated that trust.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Vincent Stites Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Church Teen

vincent stites

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 February 2021, Vincent “Vince” Stites, a youth pastor at Friendship Assembly of God in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the owner of Hellscream Entertainment, was charged with sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.

Fox-21 reported at the time:

Vincent Stites, 49, was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. Stites previously acted as a volunteer youth pastor at Friendship Assembly of God Church, according to police. His wife at the time was employed as a children’s minister at the church.

Stites was also a part owner of Hellscream Entertainment, which runs several popular haunted attractions in the Colorado Springs area. According to his LinkedIn page, Stites began that role in January 2009. He stepped down after the arrest, according to Hellscream’s co-owners.

….

According to arrest papers, the victim called police in September to report that she had been sexually assaulted by a person in a position of trust about 15 years prior.

The victim told officers that Stites, who is about 19 years older than her, had sexually assaulted her starting when she was about 14 years old, when she had aged out of a church program she was involved in. Stites was one of the adults in charge of the program, the victim told police.

The victim told police she had known Stites since she was 9, attending the church with her family.

The victim told police Stites first got physical with her around 2005. About seven months later, when she was 15, he manipulated her into having sex with him, according to the victim.

The victim told police Stites took her virginity and told her that she could not tell anybody, because he could lose his children.

The victim told police the sex continued for the next three years, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, and then quarterly, until she turned 18 and it stopped.

Police conducted a pretext phone call with Stites in December. During the call, Stites told the victim she was the first person he fell in love with, and acknowledged he thought they were going to get married, according to arrest papers.

“I want to be brutally honest with you,” he said during the call. ” I don’t want to end up in jail.”

Last week, Stites pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ninety days in jail.

The Gazette reported:

Vince Stites, a former volunteer youth pastor and haunted house owner who pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting a teenager over 15 years ago, was sentenced to 90 days in prison Thursday.

Stites, who’s already spent 110 days in custody after confessing to the crime, will also have to serve at least 10 years of probation for sex offenders, which means he’ll have to register, and won’t be allowed to use the internet or be around anyone under the age of 18 until his supervisors allow him.

The sentence, harsher than Stites’ attorney hoped for, was handed down by district judge Marla Prudek, who said she’d taken his lack of a criminal record into consideration among other things, but questioned whether Stites, 49, was sincere in his confession or remorse.

Stites’ attorney, Allen Gasper, argued that Stites wasn’t a threat to the community, adding that the sexual assaults had happened almost 16 years before.

….

During Thursday’s hearing, the woman spoke about Stites, telling him and the court that he’d taken advantage of an impressionable teenager, and that she’d carried his secret, along with trauma from his assaults, well into adulthood.

“Every aspect of my life has been affected — my mental health, my job, my marriage,” the woman tearfully said Thursday. “But there could be other girls at risk of falling into his manipulative hands. That’s where I found my strength to call police.”

In a plea deal reached in June, Stites confessed to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with the woman, adding that he’d known how old she was at the time.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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UPDATE: Black Collar Crime: Charges Against Methodist Pastor Stan Thompson Dismissed

pastor stan thompson

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.

Earlier this year Stanley “Stan” Thompson, pastor of Toms Brook United Methodist Church in Toms Brook, Virginia, was accused of sexually assaulting a child under the age of thirteen.

The Northern Virginia Daily reported at the time:

Stanley Alvin Thompson, 63, of 168 Cliffside Drive, Edinburg, was charged with aggravated sexual battery of a victim less than 13 years old. He is being held without bond at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail and due in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Thursday.

Thompson was appointed the pastor of the Toms Brook United Methodist Church, 3263 S. Main St., Toms Brook, at the 2015 Virginia Annual Conference. He resigned from the church on March 18, according to Paul Steidler, a spokesperson for the church.

“Toms Brook UMC is fully cooperating with law enforcement on this important matter,” Steidler said in an emailed statement. “The church urges anyone with knowledge about this situation to immediately contact law enforcement. Our fervent prayers are with the child and the child’s family.”

According to a 2015 Northern Virginia Daily report:

Thompson, of Eugene, Oregon, is a graduate of Northwest Christian University in Eugene and Emmanuel School of Theology in Johnson City, Tenn., where he received a master’s of divinity degree. He also received a doctor of ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

According to a news release, prior to joining the Toms Brook church, he served at Crenshaw United Methodist in Blackstone, Virginia.

Yesterday (October 7, 2021), charges against Thompson were dismissed.

The Northern Virginia Reporter Daily reports:

Stanley Thompson, 62, no longer faces the charge of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than 13 years old after Judge Chad Logan dismissed it in Shenandoah County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court at the end of a preliminary hearing.

The Northern Virginia Daily could not listen to the child’s testimony due to a state statute that protects the child.

….

But closing arguments indicated that the charge stemmed from Thompson playfully tickling the juvenile in a room with three other witnesses and briefly touching the top of the child’s genital area over clothes.

The child then went outside the residence of where the incident occurred in October 2020 to tell one of the other witnesses what happened, according to testimony and closing arguments.

Thompson had an established playful relationship with the child, and they didn’t see anything inappropriate the day of the incident, one of the witnesses testified.

The witness had told the child, but not Thompson, to stop the tickling a few months prior to the incident because the witness had become uncomfortable.

Only the child and the one witness testified during the hearing.

Attorney Beau Bassler, who represented Thompson, said Logan made a decision that was correct and tracked with the statute.

….

Logan explained during the hearing before dismissing the charge that evidence for the charge must prove an intent to molest the victim, according to state code. That wasn’t present in this instance, Logan said.

The touching was for a period of no more than two seconds, Bassler argued during the hearing. The child did do the right thing in telling somebody about being touched where a person shouldn’t have been touched, Bassler said after the hearing.

Shenandoah County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Collins argued that the reaction of the child should be considered, which involved them immediately telling one of the witnesses in the room what had happened after it did.

While being disappointed in Logan’s decision, Collins said after the hearing that he respected it.

“I can’t say that his analysis of the law is wrong,” Collins said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office could seek a direct indictment against Thompson, bringing the charge back at the circuit court level. Collins said that action will be evaluated as Bassler said Thompson would fight the charge at any time, anywhere.

“He’s not guilty, hundred percent,” Bassler said.

Thompson declined to comment after the hearing, except to say that he was glad about the result, is digesting it, and then will decide what his future plans may be. Thompson retired from the church in the days prior to his arrest and was confined to house arrest where his family lived in Blacksburg for a period of time while he was on bond.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Gary Eaches Sentenced to Prison for Sex Crimes

pastor gary eaches

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 May 2020, Gary Eaches, pastor of United Baptist Church (an American Baptist congregation) in Scranton, Pennsylvania was accused of plying a teenager with alcohol and marijuana and then sexually assaulting her.

WNEP-16 reported at the time:

According to court paperwork, Gary Eaches of Scranton gave a 16-year-old girl alcohol and marijuana and then improperly touched her.

Police say they later responded to Eaches home after he was found depressed and suicidal.

Police say Eaches admitted to the assault and told officers he recently lost his job at United Baptist Church in Scranton.

Gary Eaches is locked up on $50,000 bail and faces assault and other charges.

Eaches last posted on Twitter on May 3, 2020. Here’s what he tweeted:

christians known for

Based on the aforementioned news report, Pastor Eaches Peaches is now known for sexually assaulting a teen girl. Too bad he wasn’t against such behavior.

Eaches’ name and bio has already been scrubbed from United Baptist’s website. Other Christian websites have also deleted Eaches’ sermon and music videos.

Eaches’ handle on YouTube is “Scandalous Christian.” Eaches mentions on social media that he suffers from addiction and mental illness. As someone who has battled depression most of his adult life, I do wonder whether Eaches should have been a pastor. Knowing the rigors of the ministry, was it really wise to put Eaches in a position where his mental health issues could be exacerbated, and, perhaps, lead to addiction problems? Or were these issues minimized, believing that Jesus was the cure for what ailed Pastor Eaches?

In February 2021, Eaches pleaded guilty to indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor. In July, Eaches was sentenced to 18 to 48 months in state prison.

The Times-Tribune reports:

A former church pastor who molested a teenage girl who passed out after he gave her alcohol was sentenced Tuesday in Lackawanna County Court to 18 to 48 months in state prison.

Gary Joe Eaches, 42, of Scranton, pleaded guilty in February to indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor for sexually assaulting the 16-year-old girl at a Scranton home on April 11, 2020.

….

According to an arrest affidavit, the girl went to a home with Eaches’s son. Eaches showed up and provided her alcohol, which caused her to pass out on a couch. She awoke to find Eaches molesting her. Eaches, who was a pastor at United Baptist Church in West Scranton, later sent her text messages apologizing for what he did.

At the sentencing hearing held via Zoom before Judge Michael Barrasse, Eaches’s attorney, Patrick Rogan, said Eaches was employed as a pastor for 10 years before the assault. Rogan sought leniency, noting Eaches suffers from physical and mental health issues and was hospitalized while the case was pending.

Eaches apologized to the victim, who did not testify at the hearing.

“I realize what I did was wrong,” he said. “I’m asking for the grace and mercy of the court. … If I had a chance to change things in the past, I would.”

Barrasse also ordered Eaches to serve six years probation upon his release. Eaches also must register as a sex offender for life.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

“Don’t Dress Like a Whore if You Don’t Want to Get Sexually Assaulted” Says Lori Alexander

lori and ken alexander

Christian Fundamentalist Lori Alexander, a promoter of religious extremism, complementarianism, and patriarchalism, is known for saying hateful, outlandish things about women (and men) who reject her beliefs. Today, Alexander said that women who dress “immodestly” and later get sexually assaulted or raped are asking for it; that if they don’t want to suffer violence at the hands of men, women should stop wearing “immodest” clothing.

In a post titled, Don’t Advertise What You’re Not Willing to Give, Alexander states:

Recently, I shared an experience I had when I was 15 years old and just turned 16. The summer that I was 15 years old, I went to the beach often with another guy my age. He was tall and handsome. I had a major crush on him.

My mom wouldn’t let me to date until I was 16 years old, so she was the one taking us to the beach. At the beach, I wore a tiny bikini. He saw me in what looked like a bra and underwear all summer long. I didn’t understand about men’s visual nature then. Well, I did kind of know, since I received a lot of attention in my bikini from guys. It’s a power trip to have men ogle us. Don’t let them tell you otherwise in order to put all of the blame on men.

When I turned 16, he picked me up in his parent’s big old station wagon. He drove me to the drive-in theatre. Once the movie began, he climbed on top of me, began kissing me, and trying to take my clothes off. I demanded he take me home then, and he did. We never spoke again after than even though we had a class together.

I was always told that guys just want one thing. I thought the same of him, BUT I was advertising to him my body all summer long in immodest clothing. I was advertising something I had no intention of giving to him, but he didn’t know that. Guys are turned on when they see scantily clad women. This is why whores dress the way they do. They are advertising something they want to give for money.

A few weeks ago was the first time I had realized what I had done to him. I did this with my other two boyfriends in high school too. I wore bikinis and short, tight clothing around them. Of course, this is going to make it hard on them to not have sex with me. I was absolutely responsible for dressing the way that I did. This is why God commands young women to be discreet and shamefaced. God knows how men’s minds work. He created them! For all of these female Bible teachers/preachers to say otherwise is a lie. They act like women can dress any way the [sic] want. If guys come on to them, it’s all the guys’ fault. Don’t advertise what you’re not willing to give!

….

If you’re dressing sexually and guys are coming on to you, you are getting what you are advertising. Women at the beaches these days wear bathing suits that entice men. Most of their butts and breasts are showing. The bathing suits leave nothing to the imagination. It’s hard on men, women, when you dress like this. They were created to enjoy the female body! Stop denying this. Accept it, and do something about it!

Dress modestly as God commands. He wants us to dress modestly and shamefaced for a reason. Shamefaced means not wanting to draw attention to ourselves. Immodest clothing draws attention to ourselves. It’s for our protection and makes it easier for the men around us to dress modestly. Stop advertising what you don’t want to give. All of God’s commands to us are for our good.

Where oh where do I begin?

Alexander believes that men are inherently weak sexually; that if women don’t dress modestly, men (even those who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them like her husband Ken) won’t be able to control their sexual urges and might throw them down on a church pew and sexually assault them. Men are horn dogs who are sexually stimulated by what they see. Thus, according to Alexander, if women show too much cleavage or leg or dress in formfitting clothing, men won’t be able to control themselves sexually. In other words, women are surrounded by men who want to fuck them against their will.

Alexander, a Bible literalist, believes women are sexual gatekeepers. Since men can’t help themselves when it comes to their sexual desires, it’s up to women to keep big, bad wolves from blowing their houses down. They do this by dressing modestly, by following the teaching and commands of the Bible.

Alexander’s bikini story suggests that she thinks if a man sees a woman dressed “immodestly” one day, and then days later tries to fuck her or sexually assault her, it’s the woman’s fault. IT’S ALWAYS THE WOMAN’S FAULT! Astoundingly, Alexander calls her teen self a WHORE.

Last Saturday, my wife and I went grocery shopping in Toledo. We do this every two weeks, though rapidly increasing local COVID-19 infections will likely soon put an end to in-person shopping for us. Polly wore a top that showed a bit of cleavage. Coming from a religious world where Alexander’s beliefs were preached and practiced, Polly wearing such a top is a big deal — much like her wearing pants for the first time in 2004, at the age of 46 (ponder THAT for a moment). Why did Polly wear this top? Was she advertising to men that she wanted to have sex with them? Or did she wear this top because it was comfortable and she liked its colors? Or maybe she just wanted to look nice (for herself or her husband). Alexander believes my wife is a whore; that she was saying by showing cleavage she was available for sex (or advertising something she wasn’t willing to give). Of course, she was doing no such thing. ******************

I find it interesting that not only does Alexander blame women for men not being able to control their sexual thoughts, urges, and desires, she also blames God. Alexander wrote:

This is why God commands young women to be discreet and shamefaced [bashful, modest,respectful]. God knows how men’s minds work.

According to Alexnder, God knows “how men’s minds work.” Why? He created them that way. God created men to be the horn dogs they are. Why, then, is God not responsible for how men behave sexually? Is not the all-powerful Creator culpable for the behavior of the created? He could have created men to only want, need, and desire sex with their spouses, only in the missionary position, and only for procreation. Instead, he created men (and women) to want, need, and desire sex, not only in monogamous married relationships, but also when they are unmarried. God could have created men differently, but he didn’t. So, Alexander is right about one thing, God IS responsible for human sexual behavior.

Of course, there is no God, so we must look elsewhere to understand human sexuality, say BIOLOGY. We “are who we are” biologically, as any high school biology textbook will tell you. Further, according to modern social constructs, each of us is accountable for our sexual behavior. Just because a man sees an attractive woman in a bikini doesn’t mean the next time he sees her has the right to assault her sexually. It’s one thing to engage in a conversation with someone that might lead to consensual sex. ‘Tis human nature, right? It’s another thing, however, to try to take sexual advantage of someone, as Alexander says happened to her decades ago. It’s never right to force people to engage in sexual behavior against their will.

Alexander not only has a warped view of human sexuality in general, but also her own sexuality. She blames herself for what three boyfriends tried to do to her fifty years ago. Instead of calling these boys into account for their behavior, she blames herself for them attempting to assault her sexually. As someone who came of age in the 1970s, I understand Alexander’s view of her early sexual experiences. Such behavior was common. It’s 2021. Alexander has an opportunity to teach young Evangelical men and women about consent. Instead, she continues to promote warped justifications for men making unwanted sexual advances towards women or sexually assaulting them.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor David Walker and His Wife Accused of Sex Crimes

pastor david walker

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 January 2021, David Walker, a former youth pastor at Church Alive International in Cleveland, Ohio, and later at the Dwelling Place Family Worship Center (no website) in North Olmsted (Walker was also a teacher and coach at the now-defunct Cleveland Christian Academy), was indicted on several counts of sexual battery. Walker’s wife, Anna, was also indicted on battery charges.

Fox-8 reports:

A North Ridgeville man and his wife are facing charges after a year-long investigation.

David A. Walker and Anna Walker were indicted on several counts of sexual battery. They turned themselves into the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department on Monday.

According to the North Olmsted Police Department, the alleged sexual assaults happened from May 2005 to December 2007. At that time, David Walker was a youth pastor at Church Alive International in Cleveland and later at the Dwelling Place Family Worship Center in North Olmsted. He was also a teacher and coach at the now-closed Cleveland Christian Academy.

Police said the victim was a 14-year-old girl who was a member of the youth groups at both churches.

“Because of the nature of his position as a youth pastor and also with several different church organizations, there may be other victims out there that we aren’t aware of,” Det. Ken Vagase said.

Earlier this week, Anna Walker was indicted on two additional counts of sexual battery. David Walker faces fourteen additional counts of sexual battery, seven additional counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of sexual imposition.

Channel 19 reports:

The Cuyahoga County Grand Jury has indicted a North Ridgeville youth pastor and his wife on additional criminal charges involving sex with a minor.

Anna Walker faces an additional two counts of sexual battery and David Walker faces 14 additional counts of sexual battery, seven additional counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and one count of sexual imposition.

….

North Olmsted and North Ridgeville police officers said David and Anna Walker were first indicted by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury in January 2021.

According to officers, the Walkers assaulted a 14-year-old female between May 2005 and December 2007.

The victim was a parishioner and member of both youth group churches.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Robert Shiflet Sentenced to 33 Months for Sex Crimes

clergy sex abuse

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 June 2020, Robert Shiflet, a youth pastor at Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas from 1997-2002, was arrested and charged with child sex trafficking. Shiflet also worked at Liberty Christian School in Argyle from 2008 to 2010.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reported at the time:

A former Denton youth pastor who pleaded guilty on charges related to child sex trafficking will be sentenced in federal court on May 19 [2021], court records show.

Robert Shiflet, a Denton man, was arrested in June on four charges related to child sex trafficking. Shiflet initially pleaded not guilty to the four charges but later changed his plea to guilty on two charges of transporting minors across state lines for sexual activity. The other two charges were dismissed.

The incidents date back from 1997 to 2002, which overlapped with his time at Denton Bible Church. Authorities said he worked as a youth pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas during the time of the incidents and then later moved to Denton. He also worked at Liberty Christian School in Argyle from 2008 to 2010.

….

Shiflet changed his plea to guilty on Nov. 30. The penalty for transporting minors across state lines for sexual activity is up to 15 years in prison and up to three years of supervised release.

According to court documents, both parties agreed to a sentence of 27 to 33 months on each count to run concurrently, although the court can still determine the appropriate sentence. Shiflet would have to register as a sex offender upon release.

Yesterday, Shiflet was sentenced to 33 months in prison. The Denton Record-Chronicle reports:

 A former Denton youth pastor has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for crimes related to child sex trafficking from two decades ago.

Robert Shiflet, 51, was ordered Tuesday to serve 33 months in federal prison and must remain under federal supervision for the rest of his life once he’s released. Shiflet was indicted last year on charges relating to child sex trafficking and pleaded guilty in November 2020 to two of the charges.

….

“So I’m going to accept the plea agreement but not in any way, shape or form having anything to do with you or anything anybody has said positive about you,” U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky said in court, reported by the Democrat-Gazette. “But for them because they deserve some justice, even if it’s not the justice they or society should get completely.”

The newspaper reported the judge accepted the deal to help victims get some justice. The three victims at court Tuesday told the judge they would testify if the case moved to a jury trial, but said they preferred the 33-month sentence rather than risk a jury acquitting Shiflet.

“Thirty-three months is not justice but reading between the lines I have to believe the government has some concerns about this case if it went to the jury,” Rudofsky said. “I have a feeling that although these women have all said they would testify — which makes them more brave than you are on a single day of your life — they don’t want to and they want this to be done and that they are scared if this case goes to trial you will get off completely.”

According to the Democrat-Gazette, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant said the potential guideline sentence may have been miscalculated, leading to the range of 27 to 33 months in the plea agreement to be so far under the guidelines.

“Unfortunately, we were wrong, but that was the agreement we reached based upon our understanding at that time,” Bryant said.

Federal authorities said Shiflet worked as a youth pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the case was filed, at the time of the incidents before moving to Denton.

….

Shiflet was indicted on three counts of transporting minors across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity and one count of coercing a minor to cross state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity. He pleaded not guilty in June 2020 but later reversed his plea in November 2020 to guilty of two counts of transporting.

“This defendant took advantage of his position of trust as a mentor to young people and instead used his power to isolate and sexually abuse them,” U.S. Attorney Hiland said in a news release at the time of the guilty plea. “This predatory behavior is never acceptable, but it is particularly disturbing when the offender is a youth pastor. Our office will continue to aggressively pursue those who commit these deplorable crimes.”

According to authorities, Shiflet led a group of eighth graders in May 1997 on a camping trip to Arkansas where he was able to isolate a 15-year-old girl and sexually assault her, telling her not to tell anyone. Shiflet was 27 years old at the time and a youth pastor in Denton.

….

 A 16-year-old girl reported that in 2002 that Shiflet, her youth pastor in Little Rock at the time, “engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with her.” One of the incidents was in the summer where he, 32 years old at the time, sexually assaulted her on a charter bus to Florida while on a youth group trip.

Yet another Evangelical pastor who escapes the full brunt of the law for his heinous crimes.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Jeffrey Forrest Sentenced to 99 Years in Prison

jeffrey forrest

Jeffrey Forrest, a youth pastor, daycare worker, and camp worker at Abilene, Texas churches and camps, was sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison after he was convicted on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. According to news reports, Forrest worked for Pioneer Drive Baptist Church from 1990 to 1998. According to the church, Forrest was an intern in the church’s Child Development Center, Pre-Teen and Recreational Ministries.

KTXS-12 reported in 2015:

Jeffrey Winston Forrest, 43, is accused of molesting a boy while working with children in the 1990s. The specific case occurred in 1993.

Police say at least one other victim has come forward. They are asking other victims to come forward as well.

….

A spokesman for Pioneer Drive Baptist Church has said Forrest worked at that church from 1990 to 1998. Forrest was an intern in the church’s Child Development Center, Pre-Teen and Recreational Ministries.

The church spokesman recently said the church has had no affiliation with Forrest since then.

Forrest was arrested April 3 for having sex with a boy who attended the daycare where he worked in 1993.

Abilene police say at least three victims have come forward saying Forrest abused them.

KTXS-12 recently posted a timeline detailing Forrest’s crimes (1990s), indictment/arrest (2015), failure to appear for trial (2016), and subsequent arrest in Mexico in 2020.

In May 2020, the U.S. Marshals Office released the following statement:

The manhunt for a U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted fugitive ended Friday with the arrest in Mexico of Jeffrey Winston Forrest, 47, wanted by the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department in Abilene, Texas, for two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, bail jumping, and failure to appear.

According to a Zapopan police release, Forrest was arrested Friday afternoon by members of the State Attorney’s Office, Zapopan Police Department, and the National Institute of Immigration (INM). He was located in a drive-through store in Zapopan, Jalisco, after his presence and identity were confirmed with the existing alert in the U.S.

Forrest was deported today and brought back to the Northern District of Texas, where he will answer the charges against him.

Forrest’s capture in Mexico is a direct result of information that was developed from a tip that was provided to “In Pursuit with John Walsh” on Investigation Discovery after the show profiled the case.

In 2015, charges were filed against Forrest when four victims came forward and accused him of sexually assaulting them. The victims stated Forrest repeatedly assaulted them from the ages of 8 to 15. Investigators believe he used his position as a youth minister at several different churches to gain access and groom his victims. On April 2, 2015, Forrest was arrested on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Following his arrest, Forrest was released on bond and a trial date was set for Aug. 29, 2016. Unfortunately, he failed to appear for his trial, and after an investigation into his disappearance, authorities determined he never intended to.

While investigators found credible evidence of his travel to Mexico, his trail had grown cold due to his use and knowledge of the dark web and communication software such as Tor to mask his digital footprint.

Let this story be a reminder of the fact that sexual predators often hide in plain sight, often wolves among sheep.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Wayne Aarum Accused of Sexual Misconduct

pastor wayne arrum

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.

Wayne Aarum, a former senior high minister at The Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, New York, current pastor of First Baptist Church in Arcade, New York, and the operator of Circle C Ranch youth camp in Delevan, New York, stands accused of sexually assaulting at least twenty-one girls in the 1990s.

According to a report released by Ministry Safe, Aarum engaged in the following illicit activities:

-stroking legs (outside clothing and on bare skin)

-stroking genital area- outside clothing

-touching vaginal area- outside clothing (in shorts or jeans)

-touching, rubbing and stroking breasts, outside clothing

-stroking labia, outside clothing

-stroking from hips to breasts, clothed, on the side of the body

-touching legs and knees

-hand placed on upper thigh

-pressing penis into back of girl (hugging from behind)

-rubbing penis repeatedly in a girl’s presence

-extended hug of a partially dressed girl”

Other alleged inappropriate behaviors are mentioned in the report.

7-WKBW reports:

The report stated that 27 people came forward to corroborate some of the alleged behaviors, including “hand rubbing inside of thigh…failing to honor preference NOT to be touched” and “meeting 1/1 with girls late into the night.”

Leaders at The Chapel said they, through MinistrySafe, also reported the allegations to law enforcement.

The Chapel at Crosspoint released a statement, which you can read here.

Aarum denies the accusations leveled against him. When asked if he had ever touched anyone inappropriately, Aarum replied:

No. I have zero recollection of that. I can honestly say no.

Aarum added:

“I still don’t know, although they [the church and the victims] have accused me and pretty much condemned me, I don’t know what I’m accused of. We’ve asked for any information they can give us . . . they’ve given us nothing.

In classic “stand by your man” fashion, Daryl DeKalb, a board member at Circle C Ranch, said the accusations against Aarum were bogus:

There is absolutely no credibility to any of these things. I worked in the ministry, my wife and I have worked in this ministry, all of those same years that they’re talking about. We never saw anything even approaching this.

It’s all lightweight stuff they’re bringing up anyway. It’s common for women as they get along in life…to see how their lives are not going well and when they sit down, like with a social worker…and they start hearing stuff from a social worker that says to them, ‘Well, have you ever had something in your life where maybe this is set off, the condition that you’re in now?’ I mean, none of these women had any complaints at all until they were contacted by this group and suggestions were made to them.

According to DeKalb, putting your hands on the genitals and breasts of teen girls is “lightweight stuff.” Makes one wonder what kind of man DeKalb really is. Instead of, at the very least, withholding judgment until the alleged crimes have been investigated, DeKalb says he didn’t see the crimes happen, so he’s sure Aarum is innocent of all charges; that the accusations are just a smokescreen meant to cover up an attempt to take over the camp.

Several news reports say that Aarum may not face criminal persecution for his alleged crimes due to the statute of limitations running out.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser