Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Romello Leach Accused of Having Sex With Teen

romello leach

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.

Romello Leach, pastor of several unidentified churches, was accused on Wednesday of sexually assaulting a teen girl and impregnating her.

The Gazette reports:

An El Paso County minister arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of sexual assault on a child is accused of impregnating a 14-year-old girl, arrest records show.

According to an arrest affidavit, Romello Leach, 22, and an unidentified girl whose parents Leach knows from church had sexual intercourse at least twice since late 2016.

Leach was arrested and booked into the El Paso County jail Wednesday. He faces four counts of felony sexual assault by one in a position of trust with someone under the age of 15 and four counts of felony sexual assault by one in a position of trust with someone between the ages of 15 and 18.

Arrest records show the girl did not tell anyone about her pregnancy until her mother noticed in May that she had “a larger belly.” On May 17, the affidavit said, her mother took her to the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center, where they told an employee that the daughter had been impregnated by Leach. The daughter said she and Leach had sexual intercourse twice – once in November 2016 and again in February or April 2017.


The affidavit details a recorded telephone conversation obtained by deputies in which Leach’s ex-wife asked him, “So you didn’t sleep with that girl and get her pregnant?” Leach replied, “It happened.”

She then asks why he would sleep with a 14-year-old girl and get her pregnant when he knows her parents. Leach said “he knows he has made the worst mistake” and that “it is not like he will go around and sleep with everybody’s 13 or 14-year-old daughter,” the affidavit says.

During another recorded phone call between Leach and an unidentified person from Nov. 21, arrest records say Leach admitted to having sexual intercourse with the girl on at least four occasions and being the father of her child. He “admitted the behavior was wrong,” and said he was “full of lust” at the time.

The affidavit says the girl gave birth to the child, which Leach admitted was his, on Sept. 15, about two months after her 15th birthday.


Roy Moore’s Victims Are Just as Guilty as He is, says Evangelical Presbyterian Pastor Myron Mooney

myron mooney

Myron Mooney is the pastor of Trinity Free Presbyterian Church in Trinity, Alabama. Free Presbyterians are the Presbyterian version of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB). Staunchly Evangelical, Calvinistic, and separatist, Free Presbyterians believe women should be silent in church and wear head coverings. Mooney recently made the news with his unwavering support of Roy Moore. When asked about his name being on the letter of support for Moore, Mooney stated:

I’m proud to have my name on that letter.I don’t put any stock in (these accusations) because of the timing.

According to Mooney, his wife said the recent coverage and outrage over Moore’s scandalous behavior with underage girls is akin to being raped:

Here’s what my wife has to say about rape right now. My wife says the state of Alabama is being raped by Washington and being raped by the country with these allegations.

According to the Decatur Daily, Mooney believes that Moore’s opponents have been working for months to orchestrate an attack against Moore. Specifically, Mooney blames the Democrats. I am always amused when Evangelicals resort to wild conspiracy theories to explain reports immoral or criminal behavior. Does Mooney really believe that there is some nefarious force behind nine women accusing Moore of creepy, criminal sexual misconduct? Imagine how many people it would take to pull off such a large-scale left-wing conspiracy. Occam’s razor applies here. The shortest answer is likely the truth; and the truth is that 30-year-old district attorney Moore had a perverse, stalker-like obsession over teenage girls; and that this obsession resulted in inappropriate sexual behavior.

According to Mooney, if the sexual misconduct claims are true, then the girls making them should be held accountable for not coming forward sooner. Ever the Fundamentalist, Mooney has a proof-text to justify his slut-shaming:

If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:23,24)

Mooney is quoted in the Decatur Daily as saying:

She is then as guilty as the person that is said to have done the molestation The guilt is shared.

Pause for a moment and let Mooney’s abhorrent viewpoint sink in. Are you angry? Sick to your stomach? I know, I am.

Deuteronomy 22:23,24 teaches that if a woman is walking down the street in a city and a man rapes her, and she doesn’t cry out for help — meaning she must have really “wanted” it, then she should be executed along with her rapist. In other words, God says the rape victim is just as guilty as her rapist. Why? Because she didn’t scream loudly enough for someone to hear and come and rescue her.

Deuteronomy 22 is the same chapter of God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word that commands:

  • Women who fail a virgin test on their wedding night shall be labeled whores and executed (vs 13-21)
  • Women who wear “men’s” clothing are abominations (vs 5)
  • If a man has sex with a woman who is not engaged and they are found out, he must pay the woman’s father fifty silver shekels and marry her (with no possibility of divorce) (vs 28,29)

Mooney should roundly be condemned for what he said, but that’s not going to happen. He quoted the Bible, and dammit, God said it, and that settles it!  I wonder, as I conclude this post, if, in the picture above, the tie, shirt, underwear, and suit Mooney is wearing is made of “mixed” cloth. The Bible also says in Deuteronomy 22:

Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together. (vs 11)

How dare Pastor Mooney sin against the thrice holy God and wear mixed material clothing. Surely, his fellow Presbyterians will demand Mooney be defrocked for wearing clothing God condemns. After all, God said it, and that settles it, right? If Fundamentalists such as Mooney are going to use the Bible to justify their slut-shaming, the least they can do is obey all 635 laws in the Old Testament, and not just the ones that prop up, support, and provide cover for anti-woman views.

Does Evangelical Christianity Inoculate People From Committing Sex Crimes?

roy mooreIf you are familiar with vampire lore, you know that pure silver and garlic can protect you from vampires. Vampires are real, dammit. I watched all seven seasons of HBO’s hit series True Blood, and I am currently watching the final season of From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. After watching these shows, I have absolutely no doubt that vampires are real.

I’ve lost my mind, right? Anyone with a bit of common sense and reason knows that vampires died out with the dinosaurs. Okay, I am just pulling your leg. Vampires aren’t real. I have been reading all the defenses of Roy Moore, along with the emails I receive from Christians saying their pastor couldn’t have committed the crimes he is accused of in the Black Collar Crime Series, and I am starting to wonder if Evangelicals think Christian salvation — being born from above — is some sort of talisman that protects Christians from committing sex crimes.

I frequently receive emails from people who object to one of my Black Collar Crime stories. One woman told me her pastor couldn’t have committed sex crimes. Why? He’s a man of God, and true men of God don’t sexually molest girls. I didn’t respond to her, knowing that any attempt to talk sense into her Bible-addled mind would be futile.

As you know, Evangelical darling and Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore has been accused of sexually assaulting minor girls back when he was a thirty-year-old district attorney. He has also been accused of having a creepy obsession with female teenagers when he was younger. Moore is now married. His wife Kayla was in her early twenties — fifteen years younger than Moore — when they married. Moore’s wife says they met at a Bible study and she considers him to be one of the nicest men she has ever known. He certainly couldn’t have done what these women are accusing him of.

Dean Young, a Republican political consultant who calls himself Roy Moore’s “number one adviser,” resolutely believes that Moore is innocent of sexual misconduct. Why? Young believes that the fact Moore is a Christian inoculates him from doing such things. Young is quoted in the Washington Post as saying:

“Who says you all aren’t paying someone to do that? Go pay more people to say stuff. It’s a waste of money because people here know Judge Moore and we know he does believe in a Christian God, so that fake stuff doesn’t work with us.”

Evidently, much like vampires with garlic and silver, asking Jesus to save Evangelicals from their sins immunizes them from committing crimes. Yet, every day in the Fake News are stories about pastors, missionaries, evangelists, TV preachers, parachurch leaders, Sunday school teachers, deacons, worship leaders, church workers, and Christian family values politicians committing crimes — including rape, child abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.  Based on the evidence at hand, it is clear that Christianity does not provide immunity from committing crimes; that Evangelicals can and do behave no differently from the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Character, not Christianity, is what inoculates people from doing the things Moore is accused of. One need not believe in Jesus to treat women with respect. One need not be washed in the blood of the lamb to keep his hands off of children. All Evangelical Christianity does for perverts, predators, rapists, voyeurs, and child molesters is give them a façade to hide behind as they commit their crimes. Knowing that Christians are inherently naïve and quick to forgive and forget, these perverse men of God and followers of Jesus act with impunity, quickly explaining away whispers about their behavior. Much like vampires in the light of day, many Evangelicals cannot or will not see what is right in front of them. Their unwillingness to see things as they are only emboldens abusive Christians, leading to greater depths of depravity. This kind of thinking must cease, with Christians being brutally and critically honest about their culpability in the explosion of Evangelical sex crime stories.

It’s time to put a wooden stake through the heart of the belief that Christianity makes people morally superior. It doesn’t. The majority of Americans are Christians. This means that the majority of crimes committed in the United States are perpetrated by people who believe Jesus is their savior. I know of no evidence that suggests that atheists or other non-Christians are more likely to commit crimes. (Please read Misinformation and Facts  About Secularism and Religion.) Thus, it is clear that Christianity, in and of itself, does not keep people from doing anything — legal or illegal. We know that purity vows and thunderous preaching against premarital sex doesn’t keep Christian teens from having sex. Much like their secular, non-Christian counterparts, Evangelical teens, with hormones raging, lustily engage in sexual conduct which Evangelicals deem “immoral.”

Did Roy Moore do what he is accused of? It is likely that he did. Like Bill Cosby before him, Moore is now facing an increasing number of accusations of sexual misconduct. If there were just one accusation, it could be chalked up to he-said, she-said. But now that there are numerous women claiming that Moore acted inappropriately, there is little doubt of his guilt. As is often the case with Christian family values politicians, their talk is cheap. Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. In Moore’s case, it’s evident that he had a thing for teen girls, and sometimes his behavior went beyond that of an older man hitting on high school girls.

The same goes for Evangelicals who object when I turn the Black Collar Crime spotlight on their pastors and church leaders. In most instances, there are numerous reports of criminal/sexual misconduct. The likelihood of collusion or conspiracy is remote. I know it is hard for people when the sins of their religious heroes are exposed for all to see. Surely, everyone is lying, right? Occam’s razor applies here. The shortest, simplest explanations are usually the truth. Evangelical churches (along with Catholic churches) have become havens for bad men to commit despicable acts. Worse yet, it is unlikely that these “fallen” Christians were caught the first time they acted inappropriately. More often than not, these men left behind a trail of victims, fearful people too ashamed to speak out. I hope we are reaching a point in our society where children, teenagers, and women can, without fear of recrimination, stand tall and expose religious predators for who they really are.

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.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Hugging Women (and Men) in Church

hugging in church

Last Christmas season, I had an interesting interaction with a female stranger at one of my oldest granddaughter’s high school basketball games. As you know, I have a white beard, ruddy complexion, and a portly figure. As a result, people often think I am Santa Claus. Children give me long stares, whereas adults tend to tell me that they have been real good this year, so they are expecting lots of gifts from me. As I was leaving the aforementioned basketball game, I heard someone say, “Look, Santa’s a Bengal’s fan” (I had my Cincinnati Bengals hat on). The woman came down from the stands and asked if she could take a selfie with me so she could show her husband that Santa roots for the Bengals. I said, sure. I thought that we would stand next to each other as she snapped the smartphone photograph. Instead, she put her arm around me and drew me close, acting as if we were best friends. I am certain the woman meant nothing by her warm, affectionate embrace, but it sure embarrassed me and made me feel uncomfortable. I quickly exited the gym, glad to be free of the woman’s perfumed embrace.

The sexual harassment of women has been in the news lately. I, for one, am glad that this issue is getting the attention it deserves. Part of the sexual harassment discussion has to do with understanding boundaries and treating others with respect. We should never lay our hands on people without their permission; even if we are innocently doing so. We should never behave in ways that cause others to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

This got me thinking about all the women (and men) I have hugged in church over the years. I hugged hundreds of people during my time as an Evangelical pastor. I viewed the hugs as a sign of love. Hugging is a common practice among Evangelicals. I suspect most former Evangelical readers know what I am talking about. It was assumed that everyone was okay with being hugged by non-family members. After all, the church was viewed as our real family, and families hug each other, so it was deemed appropriate for congregants, without permission, to hug one another. I wonder, in light of current discussions about sexual harassment, if it might be time to take a closer look at hugging in church.

I am not overtly emotional in public. I don’t hug my children, nor do I tell them that I love them every time I see them. My family knows I love them, not because of words or outward displays of affection, but because I am there for them no matter what; because, when they need help, I am always available; because when they ask me to do something for them, I always say “Yes.” I am, emotionally, very much like my parents. This drives some people crazy. People who are clap-happy seals needing verbal pronouncements of love tend to think I am uncaring or indifferent. For a long time, I felt guilty about not being emotionally exuberant when it was “expected” of me. Finally, I reached a place in my life where I realized that it was okay for me to be who and what I am; that the clap-happy seal crowd doesn’t have the right to demand from me certain emotional responses.

I hugged people in church because I thought it was expected of me. I never felt comfortable doing so, but I viewed hugging as part of my job description. I now wonder if there were congregants — especially women — who felt as I did. I wonder if these women felt they were being sexually harassed/assaulted in Jesus’ name. At the very least, the hugging violated the personal space of others. People should have the inviolate right to not be touched by others without first giving permission. While most church hugging is benign, I have no doubt that there are some men who are sexually stimulated when hugging female church members. I wrote about his several weeks ago in a post titled, Beware of Deacon Bob.

We have reached a place culturally where people have a right not to have their persons violated. In the case of women, in particular, many of them have had to endure inappropriate touching out of not wanting to make a fuss in public. Perhaps, it is time to make a fuss. Perhaps, men need to be taught how to properly interact with the fairer sex. The rules are quite simple: no physical contact without permission. Want to hug someone? Ask first. Years ago, when Polly and I were looking for a church to attend, we were repeatedly assaulted by well-meaning Christians who were way too familiar with us — people we had never met before. From hugs to interrogations about where we lived and worked, we often felt we were being mugged. On more than one occasion I wanted to tell the person interrogating us, I’m sorry. I don’t have sex on the first date. Of course, I was too polite to say this. I wonder if I am alone in feeling this way. I suspect I am not, that many readers have had their personal space violated time and again by well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) people. How about we all agree to respect each other enough to keep our hands to ourselves. If you want to hug people you don’t know, ask them if it is okay for you to do so. If they say “Yes,” then, by all means, hug them, keeping your hands where they belong and not hugging them in a way that turns from friendly to sexual. In other words, learn what boundaries are and practice them.

Did you attend a hugging church?  Were you hugged without permission? How did this make you feel? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Richard Jacklin Charged with Sexual Assault


Richard Jacklin, who is a priest affiliated with Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Goodrich, Illinois, was charged yesterday with sexually assault a disabled adult.

The Daily Journal reports:

Father Richard E. Jacklin, who assists with Masses at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Goodrich, is scheduled to be in court today for his bond to be set after he was arrested by Illinois State Police on Tuesday and charged with sexually assaulting a resident at Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.

The 65-year-old Jacklin has been preliminarily charged by state police with criminal sexual assault by force and sexual misconduct of a person with a disability.
“We are still gathering information,” Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe told the Daily Journal on Wednesday.

Rowe said he would not comment further until after Jacklin’s bond is set in Kankakee County court today. Jacklin, who was ordained June 2, 1984, has been assigned to Sacred Heart since 2005, according to the Diocese of Joliet. Jacklin was assigned as resident at St. Rose of Lima Church in Kankakee from 1996-2005.


Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Assault Men When They Dress “Provocatively” says Mike Shoesmith

jennifer aniston

Shoesmith uses this photograph — calling it soft porn — as an example of a woman sexually assaulting men

Earlier today I posted the following observation to Facebook:

“If a woman wears sexually suggestive clothing around a man is that not also sexual assault? Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault. I am not condoning bad behavior by men but women need to understand that by walking around in their little sister’s skirt they are guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination which does cause mental anguish and torment especially on men who really are trying to live in harmony and respect toward women; something made more difficult when every ripple and curve are exposed to the men around you. Something to think about.”

Needless to say this caused a flurry of comments both in agreement and disdain. Many – too many – concluded I was fabricating an excuse for sexual assault against women by men. But those people, men and women, willing to wade into the deep end of the pool got it, thankfully

Many married women also feel assaulted and infuriated by the provocative dress of other women in part because they know what it’s doing to their husbands. And what, exactly, does it “do” to their husbands?

When a man sees a naked or partially dressed woman a chemical reaction happens in his brain. Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are released, giving him an involuntary surge of pleasure… involuntary!

It does also appear that women know this affect they have on men. This is likely due to cultural conditioning over several decades. From the sexual revolution of the sixties to Hollywood’s push for more and more sexual imagery in movies girls have been conditioned to accept the normalization of using their bodies as tools to gain acceptance in society. The “look at me” addiction has led to smaller and smaller bathing suits on beaches with modesty having all but disappeared. The porn scenes made in private studios have gone public. Men are in a state of constant sexual assault by women who either don’t understand the severity of what they are doing because it’s cute and they like the attention, or worse – they do know the feelings it stirs and like the control they have over men.

There are literally millions – nay – billions of pictures we could post here but again, soft porn. Do the women know what they are doing? Yes, of course. But are they aware that it fits the definition of “sexual assault?”


Finally let me say, for your own sake and ours, please put some clothes on. Stop the sexual assault against men. Yes, you have the power. Yes, you are pretty. But also yes, you are assaulting us.

— Michael Shoesmith, PNN News and Media Network, The Woman-on-Man Sexual Assault Epidemic! More Serious Than You Might Think! October 19, 2017

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor Clinton Brackett Accused of Sexual Assault

clinton brackett

Clinton Brackett, Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Lindale, Texas, stands accused of sexual assault.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph reports:

The Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Lindale has been arrested for sexual assault.

Clinton Brackett, 32, of Lindale was arrested Thursday on a warrant out of Runnels County and taken to the Smith County Jail.

The arrest was the result of information obtained from a Texas Highway Patrol trooper’s traffic stop in Runnels County, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.


First United Methodist Senior Pastor Rick Ivey released a statement saying Clinton Brackett, an employee at the church was arrested Thursday for charges of sexual assault that happened in Runnels County.

Ivey said the incident did not happen at FUMC Lindale or in the Lindale community.

“Clint Bracket’s employment with our church has been terminated,” Ivey said.

Brackett’s social media page indicates he was previously employed as the First Baptist Church in Ballinger. In a social medial post on Dec. 6, 2015, Brackett wrote that he accepted the position of Student Minister at the First United Methodist Church in Lindale and would be leaving the church in Ballinger after four and half years as a minister and member of the First Baptist Church family.

Brackett was held on a $100,000 bond which he posted on Thursday, according to Smith County Judicial records.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Klint Bitter Charged With Sexual Assault of a Child

Klint Bitter, pastor of kids and student ministry at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska, was charged today with first-degree sexual assault of a child.

WOWT-6 reports:

A former youth pastor at a west Omaha church is now in jail, accused of having sex with a 15-year old prostitute.

Klint Bitter turned himself in at the Sarpy County Jail Tuesday. He’s charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child. The 34-year-old allegedly answered an online ad posted by a sex trafficking suspect in Bellevue.

Bitter was a pastor of kids and student ministry at Christ Community Church near 108th and Harney. Church officials said Bitter has been fired from that position.

KETV-7 adds:

Sarpy County authorities say Klint Andrew Bitter, 34, is held without bond on one felony count of sexual assault.

A criminal complaint says the victim is 15-year old girl and that Bitter assaulted her in the parking lot of an abandoned supermarket in Bellevue on February 27th, 2017.


KETV NewsWatch 7 has learned Bitter’s arrest is part of a wider investigation into human trafficking. In March 2017, a Bellevue West High School student was charged with first-degree sexual assault and human trafficking based on an investigation that began on February 27th.

The Omaha World Herald reports:

A 34-year-old former youth pastor will stand trial in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.

Klint Bitter appeared in Sarpy County Court on Wednesday morning and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Judge Robert Wester set Bitter’s bail at $1 million and ordered Bitter not to have contact with anyone 18 or younger.


Sarpy County Deputy Attorney Phil Kleine told the judge Bitter contacted DeArch Stubblefield online to set up a meeting with the girl. In asking for a high bail, Kleine compared Bitter’s case to co-defendants Stubblefield and Jason Gibson.


Thomas Petersen, Bitter’s attorney, asked for a $150,000 bail and told the judge Bitter saw the ad on Craigslist and then emailed to ask if the girl was 18.


Today, October 20, 2017,  the Bellvue Leader reports that Bitter has been released from jail after posting ten-percent of his $1 million bond:

Bitter, 34, of Omaha, appeared in Sarpy County Court on Wednesday morning and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Judge Robert Wester set Bitter’s bail at $1 million and ordered Bitter not to have contact with anyone 18 years or younger. He was released later Wednesday after posting 10 percent of that bail, $100,000.

Sarpy County Deputy Attorney Phil Kleine told the judge that Bitter contacted DeArch Stubblefield, then 18, to set up a meeting with the girl. Bitter’s attorney said he was responding to a Craigslist ad. A criminal complaint said the offense took place near the intersection of Fort Crook and Childs Roads on Feb. 27.

That same day, Bellevue police said they began an investigation into a report of possible human trafficking, which led to the March arrest of Stubblefield.

In asking for a high bail, Kleine compared Bitter’s case to co-defendants Stubblefield and Jason Gibson, who was charged March 9 with the same offense as Bitter. Stubblefield was initially held on no bail and Gibson was held on $2 million bail.

Gibson, 41, later pleaded no contest to attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child. He will be sentenced next month and faces up to 50 years in prison.

And on Wednesday, Stubblefield pleaded guilty to attempted human trafficking, attempted aiding and abetting first-degree sexual assault of a child, and possession of child pornography. Prosecutors dropped an additional charge of child abuse. He faces a maximum of 72 years when sentenced in December.

Thomas Petersen, Bitter’s attorney, asked Wednesday for a $150,000 bail amount. He told the judge that Bitter emailed after seeing the Craigslist ad to ask if the girl was 18.

n asking for a lower bail amount, Petersen also said his client is married with children, owns a home, is college educated and until recently was employed as a pastor.
Mark Ashton, lead pastor at Christ Community Church, said Bitter worked for the church for seven years and was in charge of the church’s kids and student ministries.



Bitter’s co-defendant, Jason Gibson, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child and received a six-month jail sentence. Gibson must also serve five years probation and register as a sex offender.