Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: Retired Methodist Pastor David Holmes Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor david holmes

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 Holmes, a retired United Methodist pastor, stands accused of sexually assaulting a teenager.  The last church pastored by Holmes was the  Central United Methodist Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

KETV-7 reports:

Three men are accused of sexually assaulting the same 14-year-old boy. Bellevue police Detective Roy Howell said they all met the minor on a dating app and left a trail of evidence for investigators.

“These crimes do not just stay in Bellevue, they go outside of our jurisdictions,” Howell said.

One of the male suspects is from Cass County and two are from Iowa.

Bellevue police first arrested Samuel Morris of Logan, Iowa. Howell said the 55-year-old met up with the minor last December in a Bellevue neighborhood and they allegedly had sex. Howell said someone called BPD to report it, which led to Morris’ arrest and prompted Howell to look through the juvenile’s phone.

“Through my investigation, (I) was able to determine the victim has met three other individuals,” Howell said.

Howell said the juvenile met the older men through a social app called “Grindr,” which also led Howell to 45-year-old Devin Watt, who’s still in the Sarpy County Jail.

Watt is accused of having sex with the minor late last year in the same Bellevue neighborhood Morris allegedly did. Watt is also accused of sexually assaulting a different, 13-year-old minor in Douglas County, where he is also facing charges.

Howell’s investigation didn’t stop after Watt.

“In the (Grindr) chat, I found a guy by the name of David,” Howell said.

That David was later identified as 80-year-old David Holmes from Council Bluffs. According to Iowa Methodist Church records, Holmes is a former pastor who retired in 2002. The last church he’s listed under is Oskaloosa Central United Methodist Church.

“Essentially, he confessed that he had met the juvenile boy on that application and that he had met him in Omaha,” Howell said.

According to court documents, Holmes said he met up with the 14-year-old in the Clarkson Hospital parking garage in February 2017 and the two engaged in oral sex.

Holmes told investigators the minor asked him to introduce him to more older men, so Holmes introduced the minor to 64-year-old Robert Recoy. The affidavit says the three met at the Clarkson Hospital parking garage, where they took turns performing oral sex on each other.

According to the court documents, “the 14-year-old male’s mother confirmed they had spent several days at Clarkson Hospital for approximately 3 months during that time frame for her husband. The mother confirmed the 14-year-old male would leave the hospital room for different reasons.

Howell said Recoy was uncooperative during the investigation, and according to reports from the Omaha Police Department, Recoy was found dead in his kitchen with 13 pill bottles and a glass of wine next to him. The affidavit says, “It is believed Recoy took his own life due to this investigation.”

Holmes, Watt and Morris each face at least one count of first degree sexual assault of child.

….

If God is so Powerful, Why Can’t He Stop Christians From Committing Heinous Crimes?

Evangelicals believe that their God is all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He is the sovereign of the universe, and nothing happens apart from his purpose, decree, and plan. God sets up kingdoms and takes them down; thus Donald Trump is the president of the United States because God wanted him to be. It’s God, not humans, who ultimately elects people to office. He is the divine ballot box stuffer. This same God is the giver and taker of life. No one dies before the time God has appointed for his or her death. Wherever man roams, the Christian God is found. According to Evangelicals, humans cannot escape God. He is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

If these things are true, I’d love for a Christian to explain to me why it is that God can’t stop his followers from committing heinous crimes? Appealing to free will or sin won’t work. Why? God is in control of everything. If he is in control of everything, then that includes sin. If he is the sovereign over the universe, and nothing happens apart from his purpose, decree, and plan, what does that say about the notion of free will?  If humans truly have free will and can choose as they please, this means that God is not in control; that God’s plans can be frustrated by human volition. (Let the theological wrangling and justifications begin.) Well Bruce, you have to understand ____________. Actually, I don’t. All I am doing here is taking what Christians say at face value. If God is whom Evangelicals say he is, and has the power they say he does, this means that God is culpable for what happens day after day on this dying planet of ours.

Let me ask again, why can’t God stop his followers from committing heinous crimes? If, as Evangelicals assert, God, the Holy Spirit, lives in all believers and is their teacher and guide, why do Christians commit vile, horrendous crimes? Take Matthew Phelps, who stabbed his Christian wife over a hundred times. Explain how a Bible college-trained preacher could commit such a crime. Explain how it is that the news daily reports stories about Evangelical “men of God” committing adultery, stealing church funds, raping teenagers, and sexually molesting children. Why doesn’t Jehovah stop these God-called, Spirit-filled, Bible-reading, praying servants of his from committing these crimes (and others that aren’t reported). Is it that God can’t; that he is powerless to do so? Is it that humans do what humans do, and there is nothing God can do to keep them from doing so? It seems to me, based on an ever-increasing mountain of evidence, that if there is a God who created everything, he is an idle bystander, unwilling or unable to lift a finger to keep his followers from sodomizing boys, sexually assaulting little girls, and preying on adult women.

There was a time when Evangelicals could argue that criminals such as David Hyles or Bob Gray (Jacksonville, Florida) were outliers; that pastors, evangelists, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, deacons, and bus workers who commit crimes are as rare as a dodo bird sighting. Thanks to the internet and the willingness of victims to publicly share their stories, we now know the Evangelicals have just as big of a crime problem as the Catholic church does. And even before the internet, there was gossip about this or that preacher being arrested or run out of his church. Solomon was right when said there is nothing new under the sun.

Evangelical church leaders love to rail against the world and its “sins,” yet these same behaviors are found among the fraternity. Does anyone really believe that Ted Haggard and Jack Hyles are the exceptions to the rule; that yes, preachers can and do commit crimes, but such behavior is rarely found in Evangelical houses of God? I remember a day when Evangelicals thundered against the sins of the world — fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and divorce. Look at our strong, lifelong marriages, pastors would say. Look at our moral purity. We owe it all to JESUS!  Now we know better. Evangelical pastors and their congregants sin just as much as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. We know that pastors are not the pillars of virtue they claim to be: that they have sex with women to whom they are not married, and surf porn sites just like their counterparts in the world. (Please read Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

It seems, then, that Evangelicals aren’t any different from the rest of us; that all their talk about being new creations in Christ Jesus is just that, talk. Now, this doesn’t mean that Christianity is worthless. People find purpose, meaning, and community through religion. That said, I do wonder if pastors stood before their congregations and said, God is not who and what we claim he is and we are just as fucked up as the rest of the world, what would happen? If the notion of a personal, caring God is destroyed, what’s left for Christians besides Grandma Mary’s cherry pie? If there is no difference morally between the saved and the lost, where does that leave Christianity?

Of course — thanks to cognitive dissonance — my words will be loudly and roundly rejected. There is machinery to maintain and gears to grease. There are offerings to collect and souls to save. Evangelicals dare not let reality get in the way of perpetuating the myth — that Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Rape is the Same as Consensual Gay Sex, Says Mormon Quentin Cook

quentin cook

It is commendable that nonconsensual immorality [rape, sexual assault] has been exposed and denounced. Such nonconsensual immorality is against the laws of God and of society. Those who understand God’s plan should also oppose consensual immorality [gay sex, fornication, adultery], which is also a sin.

Mormon Apostle Quentin Cook at the 2018 Mormon General Conference

Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Robert Ross Accused of Covering Up Child Abuse

robert ross steven winn larry winn

Pastor Robert Ross, Steven Winn, and Larry Winn. The church that preys together stays together.

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, I posted a story about Steven Winn’s arrest on sex crime charges. In March, I posted a story about Steve Winn’s father, Larry, being arrested on similar charges. Today, their pastor, Robert Ross, has been arrested on charges that he failed to make a child abuse report. Ross is mandatory reporter, yet he did nothing. I have long argued that pastors — if they know about child abuse or a sex crime and don’t report it — should be arrested and prosecuted for failing to report. As long as there is nu punishment for their crimes, pastors will continue to sweep child abuse and sexual assault allegations under the proverbial rug.

According to the report that follows, Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist institution — has had at least four members accused of sexual abuse in its fifty-year history.

Sarah Smith, a reporter for The Star Telegram, writes:

The pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist church with two members already facing sex abuse charges was arrested Tuesday on charges that he failed to make a required child abuse report.

Robert A. Ross, the pastor of Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, is in the Mesquite jail. Bond has been set at $2,500. The police have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite has had four members accused of sexual abuse in its 50-year history. Members and ex-members say a strict culture that reveres church authorities as nearly unquestionable has led to an environment conducive to ongoing abuse.

A tipster reported the most recent allegations to Mesquite police in late February. They involved a father-son pair described as belonging to a family deeply involved in the church.

Police arrested Steven Winn, 33, who volunteered with Open Door’s youth ministry, and charged him with three counts of sexual assault of a child on Feb. 22. Larry Winn, his father and the church’s 65-year-old bus minister, was arrested a few days later and charged with sexual assault of a child. The cases involve different victims.

In 2011, the church’s then-pastor, Matt Jarrell, committed suicide in a West Virginia jail cell, where he was being held on rape charges. He had a history of sexual assault arrests, at least one of which was known to the church’s assistant pastor, per news reports at the time.

Back in 1988, Donald Lewis — another bus minister — pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child. He died while on probation. One of Lewis’ victims claims that the church’s pastor, Sylvester Matthews, knew of the abuse before his arrest.

….

Steven Winn is accused of having a 14-month sexual relationship with a minor that began when the girl was 15 and a student at the church’s school, Mesquite Bible Academy. Winn volunteered with the church’s youth ministry.

Several congregants said they were long concerned about what they say looked like an obviously inappropriate relationship between a 33-year-old man in power and a teenager.

One former member put it like this: “Anyone with two eyes and an Instagram account could have seen that things didn’t look right.”

The girl, who is still a minor and isn’t being identified by the Star-Telegram, posted pictures of herself and Winn on her page, which the Star-Telegram reviewed. The two sat close — much closer than Open Door usually allows even dating couples —and were spending an excessive amount of time together, said the former member.

….

“I talked to her a couple times on my phone,” another member said. “I was like ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be calling this guy your daddy, he’s just some guy at church.’ And she’s like, ‘You know, it’s none of your business.’ ”

He said he discussed it with friends but ultimately chose not to bring it up to anyone else.

“When you’re in the church, you believe that the pastors are the authorities,” he said. “They know what’s going on. So you would just automatically figure, it’s probably not right that they’re doing that, but I don’t think there’s anything super wrong going on, you know?”

The girl did not respond to a request for comment. The girl’s mother, reached by phone, declined to comment.

After Steven Winn’s arrest, Ross, the pastor, called a members’ meeting, longtime member Austin Guthrie said. Ross gave no details beyond the charges and said that Steven Winn had turned himself into police.

Lt. Brian Parrish, the Mesquite Police Department’s public relations officer, said Steven Winn and his father voluntarily surrendered to police. However, he said, Steven Winn did not come forward and confess of his own accord. Police received a tip on Feb. 18 — four days before Winn’s arrest. The tipster did not know the extent of the assaults, but was concerned about the relationship.

The same tipster who contacted police about Steven Winn spoke to police about Larry Winn, the bus minister for Open Door, in charge of the fleet of school buses painted with the church logo that shepherds children to and from services. When police contacted the alleged victim, she told them that Larry Winn had assaulted her three years ago, when she was 16.

….

The accusations against Larry Winn are similar to those in a case involving Sherry May Sims in the 1980s.

Sims is 46 now, but when she was 12, an Open Door bus minister raped her. The assaults went on for four years, from 1984 to 1988, she said.

Donald Lewis was the bus driver. Lori Clark, who attended Open Door at the time, remembered Lewis as heavyset and graying, always in a suit. Kids nicknamed him the “Candy Man” for the brown paper bag of hard candy he carried.

A different victim, also a minor female, reported Lewis to the Mesquite police in 1988. When the news about Lewis broke, Sims’ parents asked her if anything happened. She said she told them the truth. On May 18, 1988, Sims told her story to the Mesquite police. Later, she told it to a grand jury.

She said she never thought to report it herself.

“He was an authority figure and you didn’t say anything bad about authority figures,” Sims said.

Donald Lewis pleaded guilty. He died while on probation in 1994.

When Sims told her parents what happened, her father met with the pastor, Matthews. Her father, who died last year, told Sims that Matthews said there had been other allegations made to him prior to Lewis’ arrest. Nothing was done.

Matthews is still employed at Open Door. He serves as a senior pastor and a math teacher at Open Door’s school.

….

You can read the entire sordid story here.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Ronald Burning Granted Parole After Only Serving Six Years for Sexual Assault

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.

Ronald Burning, former pastor of Johnsfield Baptist Church in Ohsweken, Ontario — located on the Six Nations Indian Reservation — was granted parole after only serving a six year prison sentence for sexually assaulting children, women, and men over a thirty year period. Burning was affiliated with Old Time Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York — a staunch King James Only Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church.

The Brantford Expositor reports:

Six Nations pastor Ronald Burning, convicted in 2012 of a series of sexual assaults on children, women and men over 30 years, has been granted full parole from prison.

Now 65, Burning was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years for four counts of indecent assault of a female. two counts of sexual assault, indecent assault of a male, forcible confinement and criminal harassment, He received credit for his pre-trial custody on a 1 1/2 days for every one day served, giving him a total of 612 days of credit.

At his trial, the minister pleaded not guilty. He launched an appeal of the verdict by Justice Kim Carpenter-Gunn but abandoned his fight in May 2014.

It wasn’t until last June, when Burning was before the parole board, that he confessed his full guilt.

He later admitted he had been trying to protect himself and his family by denying his offences.

Before his arrest, the preacher also was principal of an independent school associated with his congregation, Johnsfield Baptist Church on Fifth Line. Throughout his trial, he received strong support from members of the church and American members of the church’s umbrella organization, Old Time Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y.

Victims who testified during Burning’s trial included: a woman who was sexually groomed and assaulted as a teen; a second woman who Burning assaulted for 11 years, beginning when she was a pre-schooler; a female church employee who was blackmailed into performing sexual acts; a woman who caught Burning peeping at her through a vent in the women’s washroom in the church; and two men who said the pastor molested them when they were young.

Last December, Burning was granted day parole and has been living in a federal halfway house at an undisclosed location.

According to the Parole Board of Canada’s decision to grant him full release, Burning has been spending weekends at his wife’s home, where he now will take up residence.

The report said Burning has made significant progress since being on day parole.

He has enrolled in a college program where he’s been attending daily classes. And he took a computer course through a native employment centre.

He also has been working on a self-management plan to identify triggers to the “distorted thinking patterns” he had in the past, said the parole board report, adding that Burning had a healing plan that he’s worked on with a church and his wife and daughter, who remain supportive.

The parole board said that Burning is considered a low risk to re-offend because of his “high levels of accountability, motivation and reintegration potential.”

He also is in poor health, the board notes.

“It is the board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society if released and your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.”

The board noted that Burning caused long-lasting psychological harm to his victims.

He faces strict conditions, including avoiding contact with his victims and all children under 18 years old. He also must report his relationships to his parole officer and not be in any supervisory role or position of authority over children.

He remains on the national sexual offenders database for the rest of his life.

….

In July 2017, the Brantford Expositor reported:

According to the parole board report, Burning told them he denied his guilt in order to protect himself and his family. He said he decided to accept responsibility after incarceration gave him time to reflect on his life.

“You were selfish and non-accountable,” says the report.“You admitted that you knew what you did was wrong but your desire for sexual gratification was stronger than any misgivings you might have had.”

Burning used his position as a musician, pastor and principal at Johnsfield Baptist Church on Six Nations to target victims, often on Sundays.
During his trial, supporters from both his family and the Six Nations church’s sponsoring congregation from the U.S. were in the courtroom to support the minister.

….
One former member of the church, whose daughters attended the church school, said she was angry that Burning was being released. The woman left the church, horrified the group continued to support Burning, to the point of raising funds for his defence, without addressing the allegation he was facing. “I’ve spoken out against my ex-church in the last four-and-a-half years since we left,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. “I’m an administrator of an Independent Fundamental Baptist survivor group on Facebook and involved in several other IFB survivor groups.”

Through testimony during Burning’s trial, it was learned that although complaints about Burning were received by police as early as 2007, it was the end of 2009 when a victim reported she had been sexually assaulted, beginning when she was 17. The woman said Burning began by kissing and fondling her but his actions progressed to fellatio and intercourse.

A second woman testified she had been assaulted for 11 years, starting when she was three or four years old. Burning began having intercourse with her when she was about seven and continued to have sex with her until she was about 15.

Another woman said she rented a house from Burning’s church and worked at both the church and the school. Burning blackmailed her into performing sexual acts, threatening that she would lose her house and job if she didn’t comply.

Another woman reported she saw Burning watching her through a vent in the women’s washroom at the church. Her husband found a chair and mirror at the vent that allowed for a view of the genitals of anyone using the washroom. Another peephole was located in another bathroom.

Two men reported assaults. One said Burning fondled him while he slept and another said when he was seven to nine years old, Burning fellated him on at least 160 occasions.

….

The parole board questioned Burning about the fact that his “pool of victims” included four children under the age of 14.“You were asked why you offended against children. You said they were crimes of opportunity, the children were dependent on you and you felt they would not denunciate you. “You felt entitled and used the power that your position gave you to groom some of your victims and manipulate them.

”Burning confessed to the board that he still thinks of children in a sexual way but he has no inclination now to act upon his feelings. He outlined examples of how he plans to cope with such desires.

….

I find it appalling that Burning only served six years for his crimes; that the parole board determined he was no longer a risk to society. What is the h-e-l-l were they thinking?

In 2012, the Brantford Expositor reported:

A 59-year-old Six Nations pastor sat with his head in his hands after guilty verdicts were read out on 13 of 14 charges Friday afternoon in Brantford Superior Court.

Ronald D. Burning was taken into custody after the verdicts were read, bringing to a conclusion a two-week trial where the six-man, six-woman jury heard from two men and five women in relation to an original 19 charges. The witnesses cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban.

Jurors had deliberated over 14 of the original 19 charges starting Thursday at 10 a.m. At 8 p.m. Thursday they were sequestered for the night and resumed deliberations at 10 a.m. Friday. They rendered their verdicts shortly before 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Burning, pastor of Johnsfield Baptist Church, was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault, four charges of indecent assault, sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 14, forcible confinement, indecent assault, voyeurism, criminal harassment, indecent assault and gross indecency. These charges, some committed on men and some on women, related to incidents that took place between 1971 and 2009.

He was found not guilty on a single charge – sexual assault on a male.

Three of the original charges were stayed by Justice Kim Carpenter-Gunn, who directed acquittal on two other charges because no evidence was presented.

During their deliberations, jurors returned to the court mid-morning Friday to ask a question of clarification. Jurors wanted to know if they could find guilt on a charge where there was only the testimony of one witness and no other corroborating evidence from exhibits presented during the trial or other witness testimony.

The judge said that jurors could use any evidence or testimony to help them assess the context of the witness testimony in question and use that to determine how much weight to give to what that person told the court.

The judge revoked Burning’s bail following his conviction, requiring that he stay in custody until his sentencing hearing.

Defence lawyer Howard Staats had asked his client remain on bail, given he has lived under those conditions for almost two years and had caused no problems.

Assistant Crown attorney Patricia Vadacchino argued for custody.

She also reviewed for the judge how two of the guilty verdicts carry minimum life sentences, three carry minimum five-year sentences and one carries a minimum 10-year sentence.

“Now that we’ve had the jury come back … finding the accused guilty on 13 of 14 charges and the defendant is looking at significant jail time, I don’t see the wisdom of releasing the accused,” Carpenter-Gunn said.

….

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor Russell Davis Accused of Rape

pastor russell davis

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.

Russell Davis, a Methodist pastor, stands accused of raping a teenager.

WMUR-9 reports:

A Seabrook man is being held without bail after he was accused of raping a child while he was serving as a pastor in the Methodist Church.

Russell Davis, 65, faces several charges in Massachusetts. Seabrook police said they arrested Davis Thursday on a fugitive from justice warrant. The Essex County District Attorney’s Office said he is being held without bail because he is still employed in the ministry and has access to children.

Davis pleaded not guilty in Newburyport District Court to charges out of Rowley, Massachusetts, of rape of a child with force and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over, and a charge of rape from Newbury, Massachusetts.

Prosecutors said the allegations involve the same victim and incidents that occurred in April 2004.

According to the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, Davis was a licensed Methodist minister from 1999 to 2015. His first assignment was in Warren, New Hampshire.

Davis moved among several churches in Maine and Massachusetts after that until his license was discontinued in 2015. A spokesperson for the church would not say why his license was discontinued but said it was not related to sexual misconduct.

It’s unclear whether Davis has been affiliated with any churches in New Hampshire since then.

….

An April 9, 2018 Salem News report states:

A former pastor accused of raping a child will have the chance to be released from custody as he awaits trial. A Newburyport District Court judge ordered that he be held on $5,000 cash bail, following a dangerousness hearing on Monday.

While Russell Davis, 65, of Seabrook, was found dangerous by the court, he will be released should he post bail. If released, he will need to wear a GPS monitoring device, live in Massachusetts, stay away and have no contact with his alleged victim and have no unsupervised contact with children under 16. He is due back in court May 16.

Monday’s dangerousness hearing, which is to determine whether a defendant poses too great a risk to his alleged victim or society to be afforded bail while awaiting trial, was originally scheduled for last week. But an Essex County prosecutor told Judge Peter Doyle that Davis’ attorney was not available that day.

On March 30, Davis pleaded not guilty to charges of rape of a child with force, as well as indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over. Those offenses took place in Rowley in 2004, according to the Essex District Attorney’s office.

In addition, Davis also pleaded not guilty to a charge of rape, which allegedly occurred in Newbury in 2004, the DA’s office said. No information was available about when the allegations surfaced. Davis was arrested a day earlier in Seabrook. A judge ordered all police reports related to Davis’ arrest impounded.

….

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Matthew “Denny” Patterson Accused of Sex Crimes Against Boys

pastor denny patterson

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.

Matthew “Denny” Patterson, pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. Most of the victims were young boys. Patterson was known in the area for his anti-LGBTQ crusading.  With rapture-like speed, church leaders have scrubbed Patterson’s name from the Nolensville Road Baptist website. One news report states Patterson resigned from Nolensville Road Baptist last September and moved to Pennsylvania. He was arrested in Pennsylvania on March 8, 2018 and has since been extradited to Tennessee.

Adam Tamburin, a reporter for The Tennessean, writes:

Metro police have arrested a pastor accused of molesting several children across two decades while he was leader of a South Nashville congregation.

Matthew Dennis Patterson, known as Denny, served as pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church for more than 20 years. He resigned on Sept. 24.

Days later, members of the congregation came to the police precinct on Harding Place with complaints about his requests to “engage in strange activities” with children, authorities said.

Children at the church told adult members that Patterson had asked them to sit on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear, according to a police statement.

Detectives John Thomas and Jacob Masteller from the department’s Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Unit led the six-month investigation into the complaints.

After interviewing multiple church and staff members, police said the detectives identified multiple victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998-2017. Police did not say how old the children were at the time of the alleged abuse.

Patterson has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. Each count is linked to a different child, according to police.

Police said more charges relating to additional victims “are anticipated” as the investigation continues.

Nashville police arrested Patterson in Pennsylvania on March 8 — he refused to talk to investigators. Patterson was extradited to Nashville on Friday, and his bond was set at $100,000.

Leaders at Nolensville Road Baptist have been “fully cooperative” with the investigation, according to police.

….

The church appeared to be growing — they bought a second house on an adjoining lot in March 2017 for $150,000, property records show. Patterson touted the purchase as a long-held dream on his Twitter account.

It is an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. In the church’s statement of faith, it cites the Bible as the only authority for faith and practice, belief in the sinful nature of man, biblical family roles and local church autonomy.

Patterson was a vocal opponent of anti-discrimination bills considered by the Metro Council in 2003. The measures were designed to protect jobs and housing for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

“We want to make sure we keep the pressure on, let them know that anytime they bring this up, we’ll be down here to oppose it,” Patterson told The Tennessean in an article published Feb. 5, 2003.

Mention of Patterson was scrubbed from the church’s website after he left the church last year. But an archived version of nolensvilleroadbaptist.com includes a message from the former pastor welcoming visitors to Sunday and Wednesday services.

In the message, Patterson describes the church as “warm” and “friendly” and tells visitors to expect “soul-stirring music and Bible preaching.”

….

The church’s website describes the church this way:

Thank you for visiting our website. We have tried to make this site as simple and friendly as possible. It is our desire to provide you with information about our church, as well as material that will be a blessing to you spiritually. We are an independent, fundamental, Baptist church. We use soul-stirring traditional music and the focal point in our services is the preaching of God’s Word. We use only the King James Version.

The church’s website has a message for visitors from Patterson (via The Wayback Machine):

As Pastor I want to take this opportunity to invite you to our church. We have a warm, friendly church, and you will feel more than welcome. We are always excited to see guests in our services.

We are a church that believes God is alive and Christ can still save those who turn to Him for salvation. At our church, Christ is the answer for every one of the problems of man [including molesting young boys?]. God stands with His hand stretched out to all people, and so does our church.

You will find soul-stirring music and Bible preaching in each of our services. On behalf of all our people, please accept my invitation to attend our services. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Pastor Denny Patterson
Psalm 19:14

The church’s about page states:

STILL CHURCH

Timeless or trendy? Malls are trendy. Church should feel timeless. With the forceful current of constant change sweeping over every part of our lives, people have the need to connect with something enduring and firm. We believe Christ designed the church to fulfill that need by representing an eternal kingdom and ageless truth with no need to imitate the culture. We want you to know there’s still a church that feels like church. It won’t feel like a rock concert, comedy club, or motivational seminar. It’s not old-fashioned as in 50 years ago. It’s timeless, as in 2000 years ago.

STILL PREACHING

Dynamic, passionate preaching straight from the Bible still brings more lasting change than comedy routines, drama, or motivational talks. Come discover the benefit of Biblical preaching.

STILL HYMNS

Most church music amounts to dumbing down the lyrics and cranking up the volume to build more interest. The hymns we sing still generate an attitude toward God that is anything but lifeless and boring.

STILL REVERENT

Casual is all the rage in American institutions, but God deserves better. While you won’t find a judgmental spirit here, you will find a place that still believes reverence is right for the presence of God.

STILL FAMILY

Our culture’s experiments with the family have left the American home in a mess. We still teach the biblical roles for the family as the best answer and our only hope for stable, unfulfilled homes.

STILL EXCITING

God doesn’t need the Top 40 or the latest fads to be exciting. We still enjoy several timeless practices that stir the soul in a way that strobe lights and dancing in the aisles can never manufacture.

Nolensville Road Baptist Church is an Independent, Fundamental, Baptist church located in Nashville, TN. Our church is easily accessible from anywhere in the greater Nashville area. Our church facilities are located on the South side of Nashville, and we are close to I-24, I-65, and I-40.

And yet for all these “still” statements, the church “still” had a predatory child molester in its midst.

A Channel 5 news report adds:

The indictments stated one of the victims was abused over a six year period.

Another indictment said that between April 6, 2007 and April 6, 2013, Patterson “did intentionally engage in unlawful sexual contact with N.B. (d.o.b. 04-06-2002).”

Officials with the Metro Nashville Police Department said he molested at least eight children over the course of more than 20 years as pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in south Nashville.

Patterson reportedly resigned on September 24, 2017 and moved to Pennsylvania.

Church members learned of the allegations the following day, according to a statement, and reported it to police after speaking with Patterson and obtaining his cell phone and laptop to give to detectives.

A mother of three, who had attended the church on and off for two years, said she did not suspect Patterson of being an alleged molester.

“I didn’t at first but when I look back at it, it kind of makes sense after watching some of the behavior and movements toward certain people now,” said the mother who chose not to reveal her identity.

She added that Patterson event attended her three-year-old daughter’s birthday once, although she does not believe she was abused.

“I can’t really talk to a three-year-old about it because they don’t understand what’s going on. You get scared wondering if it was your child,” she said.

Church members came to the South Precinct to report that children were saying Patterson had them engage in strange activities with him, including sitting on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear.

The church spokesperson said in a statement, “Nolensville Road Baptist Church want to let our community know that the sinful actions of one man does not reflect upon church as a whole. We remain committed to truth, transparency in all our operations, and for the care and support for the victims and family who have been victimized by alleged perpetrator.”

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An April 5, 2018 Times Free Press story states:

A former Tennessee pastor accused of molesting several children while he was a Nashville church leader has pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance.

The Tennessean reports a public defender accepted the case against Matthew Dennis Patterson and entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Wednesday.

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Police say investigators identified at least eight victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998 to 2017.

Patterson has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. More charges related to additional victims are expected.

Black Collar Crime: Over Hundred People Report Allegations of Sexual Abuse in UK Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregations

jehovahs witnessess

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.

According to a blockbuster report in The Guardian, over one-hundred people have contacted the newspaper with allegations of sexual abuse in Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations.

The Guardian reports:

More than 100 people have contacted the Guardian with allegations of child sexual abuse and other mistreatment in Jehovah’s Witness communities across the UK.

Former and current members, including 41 alleged victims of child sexual abuse, described a culture of cover-ups and lies, with senior members of the organisation, known as elders, discouraging victims from coming forward for fear of bringing “reproach on Jehovah” and being exiled from the congregation and their families.

A Guardian investigation also heard from 48 people who experienced other forms of abuse, including physical violence when they were children, and 35 who witnessed or heard about others who were victims of child grooming and abuse.

The stories told to the Guardian ranged from events decades ago to more recent, and many of those who came forward have now contacted the police.

They told the Guardian about:

  • An organisation that polices itself and teaches members to avoid interaction with outside authorities.
  • A rule set by the main governing body of the religion that means for child sexual abuse to be taken seriously there must be two witnesses to it.
  • Alleged child sex abuse victims claiming they were forced to recount allegations in front of their abuser.
  • Young girls who engage in sexual activity before marriage being forced to describe it in detail in front of male elders.

A solicitor representing some of the alleged victims said she believed there were thousands of complainants in the UK and that the people who have contacted the Guardian were “just the tip of the iceberg”.

One alleged victim, Rachel Evans, who has waived her right to anonymity, claimed there was a paedophile ring active in the 1970s, although details of the case cannot be divulged due to a current investigation.

“Within the Jehovah’s Witnesses there is an actual silencing and also a network where if someone went to the elders and said ‘there is a problem with this’ and they believe you, the whole thing will be dealt with in-house. But often these people are not dealt with, they are either moved to another congregation or told to keep their head down for a few years,” she said.

Another victim, who did not want to be named, said she was abused by a ministerial servant (someone with congregational responsibilities) in the organisation in the 1970s.

“I was sexually abused many times a week from the age of three until I was 12. Congregation elders knew that when I told them, at 12, what had been happening. No steps were taken to tell the police. I had to tell three male senior figures what had happened. Imagine that? A young girl telling a bunch of men what this man did to me. I wasn’t even allowed to have my mother there with me.”

After she went to the police about what had happened, the person who abused her pleaded guilty and was eventually convicted. “The Jehovah’s Witnesses should lose their charity status as they are not protecting children,” she added. She said she had mental health issues as a result of what happened and how it was dealt with.

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When a Jehovah’s Witness experiences sexual abuse they are supposed to report it to elders, who are always men, who will take further action if there is a second witness to the offence. The perpetrator will then be called before a judicial committee if they admit abuse or if there is a second witness.

“This causes further trauma to the victim and coupled with the two-witness rule, is undoubtedly the reason that so many victims have never reported it,” said Kathleen Hallisey, senior solicitor in the abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, who is currently acting on behalf of 15 alleged victims.

She also noted that the problem with the two-witness rule in the context of sexual abuse was that there were rarely witnesses to it, “meaning that [these] reports … are usually dismissed”.

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The Charity Commission launched an investigation in 2013 looking into the Manchester New Moston congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, concluding that it did not deal adequately with allegations of child abuse made against one of the trustees.

The commission is still running an inquiry into the main government body of the group, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain. This is examining the child safeguarding policy and procedures further.

Following the investigation into the Manchester New Moston congregation last year, the Watch Tower changed its policy so that victims are no longer required to confront their abuser face to face.

A former elder, who was asked to investigate a child abuse case in 2007, claimed he was urged not to contact the police, although it was decided that the perpetrator should not be assigned to work with children.

However, the then elder – who left in 2012 over how the case was handled – said that this rule was not followed by everyone and when he raised this as a concern he was told to back off.

“I hugely regret the fact that I wasn’t able to do anything at the time and I didn’t have the strength. And that lives with me,” he said.

Other former Jehovah’s Witnesses told how they were forced to share personal sexual experiences at a young age, after breaking rules set by the religion.

One woman, who wished to be anonymous, was called to a meeting with elders after she had sex at 15, which goes against the rule of no sex before marriage. “This meeting was three older men and me, a scared 15-year-old, who had just had sex for the first time. They had to know all the details before they chose my punishment,” she said.

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You can read the rest of the feature story here.

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Worship Leader Stacy Digby Accused of Sex Crimes

stacy digby

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.

Stacy Digby, a volunteer worship leader at Highfill United Methodist Church in Highfill, Arkansas, was arrested Wednesday on charges of “sexual Indecency with a child and sexual assault in the first degree.” (Digby’s mother said he was the church’s worship leader. A Raw Story report says Digby was a lay leader.) Digby was also the mayor of Highfill, Arkansas. After his arrest, Digby resigned from office. According to an earlier NWA report, Digby has previously been investigated on suspicion of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. When asked about the charges levied against Digby, Highfill pastor Russ Hall said, “I would vouch for his character.”

NWA reports:

On January 8, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible inappropriate relationship between Stacy Digby and a 17-year-old girl.

Community and church members voiced their concerns about the interactions between the girl and Digby. The police report lists one such instance at a local bowling alley where the bowling alley manager and a woman saw the teen sitting on Digby’s lap.

When taken in for questioning, the 17-year-old told police she did stay the night at Digby’s home, but only once when her sister, Digby’s kids and his girlfriend were there.

The teen told police she had known Digby for six years, but she started to really hang out with him about four years ago.

On January 10, police questioned her grandmother and younger sister. The younger sister confirmed the 17-year-old and Digby met up several times in public and private. She also stated Digby and the 17-year-old started the relationship about four years ago.

The younger sister also confirmed to police the 17-year-old kept in communication with Digby through text. The two would send each other numerous photos including pictures of genitalia.

On January 24, detectives went to Digby’s parent’s house, where they believed he was hiding his computer. During the conversation, Digby’s mother said he was the worship leader at Highfill United Methodist Church and was pretty much the second person in charge besides the actual pastor himself. After obtaining a warrant, detectives seized a 500GB external hard drive from Digby’s parent’s milk barn.

On January 29, investigators interviewed an ex-girlfriend of Digby’s about the case.

The ex-girlfriend told police Digby confessed to having pictures of the 17-year-old and to having sexual intercourse since she was 12 or 13 years old.

Digby was arrested on Wednesday, March 28, and faces charges of Sexual Indecency with a Child and Sexual Assault in the First Degree.

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Sunday School Teacher Noel Anderson Admits Sexually Assaulting Children

noel anderson

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.

Noel Anderson, a Sunday school teacher at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in McKinney, Texas, was arrested on aggravated sexual assault charges after he admitted to sexually assaulting four children.

NBC-5 reports:

McKinney Police have arrested a 22-year-old who is now facing Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child charges.

Investigators say Noel Anderson admitted to sexually assaulting four children between the ages of two and six over the past seven years.

Police said Anderson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at 1020 North Lake Forest Drive in McKinney.

Investigators said Anderson found his victims through church activities and meetings and that he also held church responsibilities, such as being the primary instructor for children ages 7 and 8 back in 2014.

Officers are now asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and additional victims that may have come in contact with Anderson. If you believe inappropriate contact was made, contact McKinney Police Detective U. Watson at 972-547-2729.

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CBS-DFW adds:

There is a new charge facing a former McKinney Sunday school teacher accused of abusing the children of families he befriended at the church. Noel Anderson, 22, was arrested last week and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. Police have since added a second charge of indecency with a child sexual contact. According to investigators, Anderson has admitted to the abuse. Church members say the sense of betrayal is deep.

“He was an outstanding youth in our church,” says a concerned parent with knowledge of the case, “the gold standard for what you would want your son to grow up to be.”

In spite of the fact that Anderson has allegedly admitted his guilt, this parent says families fear speaking publicly about the case and we agreed to not disclose the church member’s identity. An earlier report that cautioned about the lifelong consequences of failing to treat childhood trauma prompted the parent to speak up.

“Sexual abuse is like throwing a grenade in the middle of somebody’s psychological life,” says Sylvia Gearing, Ph.D., a Plano clinical psychologist. “It stops their development.” Early treatment, she say is key. But, first, additional victims have to be identified and encouraged to come forward.

“I have lost all trust and hope,” says the church member, “just bewildered. Shocked.”

According to McKinney police, a young child made the initial outcry. A parent with knowledge of the case told us that the child saw a picture of Anderson and said “I don’t like him.” We’re told a parent had the courage to ask why, and what followed were heartbreaking words.

“She indicated that Noel had touched her in her privates,” relayed the church member.

That child’s courage has no doubt saved others. Still, families are wrestling with the pain and betrayal… telling me, they not only knew and loved Noel Anderson, they trusted him and his spiritual leadership.

“A complete lie. These abuses took place before and after his mission,” added the church member, referring to police reports that Anderson had been abusing children for years.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Egalitarianism to Blame for Sexual Assault of Women, Says John Piper

men protect womenMy point in that article [Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?] and in this podcast is that the egalitarian assumptions in our culture, and to a huge degree in the church, have muted — silenced, nullified — one of the means that God has designed for the protection and the flourishing of women. It has silenced the idea that men as men — by virtue of their created, God-given maleness, apart from any practical competencies that they have or don’t have — men have special responsibilities to care for and protect and honor women. This call is different from the care and protection and honor that women owe men. That’s my thesis. That’s my point.

Now, it seems to me that for decades Christian and non-Christian egalitarians have argued, have assumed, and have modeled that those peculiar roles and responsibilities among men and women in the home, in the church, and in the culture should emerge only from competencies rather than from a deeper reality rooted in who we are differently as male and female.

Let me put it another way. If your nine-year-old son asks you, “Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman?” — or if your daughter asks, “Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?” — it won’t do to answer, “What it means is that when you grow up, you will have maturity and wisdom and courage and sacrifice and humility and patience and kindness and strength and self-control and purity and faith and hope and love, etc.” That doesn’t answer the question. Those traits are absolutely right, but they belong to both men and women.

The question was “What does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman?” And “What does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?” “Is there, Mommy and Daddy, a God-given, profound, beautiful meaning to manhood and womanhood?”

The kids don’t say it like that, but that’s what they want to know eventually: is there a difference beyond mere anatomy? Are there built-in responsibilities that I have simply because I’m a male or a female human being. There is a pervasive egalitarian disinclination to say yes to that question. The egalitarian inclination is to define all our relationships by competencies. And my suggestion or my contention is this is hurting us.

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This refusal to answer that question or be burdened by it is hurting us. It confuses everyone, especially the children. This confusion is hurting people.

It has moved way beyond confusion. It’s a firm conviction of most of our egalitarian culture that men as men do not owe women a special kind of care and protection and honor that women do not owe men. I believe they do. I believe fifty years of denying it is one of the seeds bearing very bad fruit, including all those sexual abuses you talked about in your question. There are others seeds in our culture, but this is one of the seeds.

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My point in this podcast is that this divine design for men as men to show a special care, protection, and honor to women is essential for good — for the good of families, churches, society, and for women in particular.

Millions of people in our day would rather sacrifice this peculiar biblical mandate given for the good of women. They would rather sacrifice it than betray any hint of compromise with egalitarian assumptions. What I’m arguing is that we have forfeited both a great, God-ordained restraint upon male vice and male power and a great, God-ordained incentive for male valor because we refuse to even think in terms of maleness and femaleness as they are created by God, carrying distinct and unique responsibilities and burdens.

We have put our hope in the myth that the summons to generic human virtue, with no attention to the peculiar virtues required of manhood and womanhood, would be sufficient to create a beautiful society of mutual respect. It isn’t working.

Men need to be taught from the time they are little boys that part of their manhood is to feel a special responsibility for the care and protection and honoring of women just because they are men.

— John Piper, Desiring God, Sex-Abuse Allegations and the Egalitarian Myth, March 16, 2018

Black Collar Crime: IFB Church Volunteer Donald Chambers Accused of Sexual Assault

donald chambers

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.

Donald Chambers, a volunteer at Beacon Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, stands accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. The alleged assault took place at Raleigh Baptist Academy — a ministry of Beacon Baptist. Beacon Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation.

WRAL reports:

A volunteer at a Raleigh church was in court Thursday on charges of sexual assault involving a child.

According to an arrest warrant, Donald Dean Chambers, 64, of 4031 Buck Road in Clarksville, Tenn., inappropriately touched a 12-year-old girl Tuesday.

Chambers was arrested at Beacon Baptist Church, where he volunteered, and charged with assault on a female and sexual battery.

According to a 911 call, the girl was at soccer practice at Raleigh Christian Academy, which shares a property with Beacon Baptist, at the time of the incident.

“I’m not really sure why he was at the soccer practice, but he actually touched on her breast on the outside of her clothes,” the woman told a 911 dispatcher.

The 911 caller said the victim reported the incident to the school and was told by school officials that Chambers would be barred from being on campus during school hours and would not be allowed to attend school functions alone.

“Beacon Baptist Church does not cover up abuse, and we have a zero tolerance for child abuse in our ministry. We carefully interview and screen our employees and volunteers,” the church’s pastor said in a statement released to WRAL.

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