Tag Archive: Sexual Predator

Beware of Deacon Bob

child abuse 2The following is loosely based on a true story recounted to me by a Baptist pastor’s daughter.

Every church has a Deacon Bob — a Jesus-loving man who loves getting close and personal with children. Deacon Bob is a hugger. He loves intimate physical contact. Deacon Bob goes from person to person, handing out hugs and warm embraces. Everyone loves Deacon Bob. Knowing no boundaries, Deacon Bob embraces everyone. Deacon Bob focuses his “love” on children. Children love Deacon Bob. He is known for always having candy in suit coat pocket.  Sunday after Sunday, church children run to Deacon Bob, begging him to give them candy.

Every night, without fail, Deacon Bob and his wife — both lifelong members of Calvary Baptist Church — had their devotions and prayed together. Afterward, Deacon Bob’s wife retired for the night. Deacon Bob told his wife that he would be to bed soon, but first, he needed to study his Sunday School lesson — Deacon Bob taught the fifth-grade girls. Soon his wife was fast asleep and Deacon Bob sat down in the computer room to study his lesson — a place where he would commune with God undisturbed. Done with studies, Deacon Bob got up from his chair and locked the computer room door. Safe from interruption, Deacon Bob sat down, put on his headphones, and typed in Netscape the internet address for one his favorite child pornography websites. Soon, Deacon Bob began pleasuring himself as he viewed children being sexually molested and violated. Once he was finished, Deacon Bob felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Oh, Jesus, I am so sorry for what I have done. Please, Lord, forgive me. I claim the promises found in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Thank you, Lord for forgiving me of my sin. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

Night after night, year after year, Deacon Bob repeats this ritual — seeking self-gratification and then asking Jesus to forgive him. Deacon Bob started each morning with prayer, reading that day’s entry in Our Daily Bread, and a silent promise to God that he would never look at child porn again. Deacon’s Bob’s resolve lasted for a day or two, maybe a week, but soon, with deviant passions stirred by church children unaware of who and what he really is, Deacon Bob returned to the internet to seek out images and video sure to satisfy — for a moment — his perverse sexual desires.

Deacon Bob is a sexual predator hiding in plain sight. His church family thinks he’s wonderful — a lover of Jesus and children. He’s just like Jesus, Pastor Billy was heard saying. Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16) Deacon Bob just wants to minister to children, sharing with them his love for Jesus. We need more Deacon Bob’s in this church! Clueless to Deacon Bob’s true nature and desires, Pastor Billy and the church “trust” Deacon Bob with their children. Sister Eatmore was overheard saying, Why Deacon Bob sure does love children. I would trust him to take my children anywhere.

The whole church thinks Deacon Bob is their very own Mister Rogers — everyone except Margie Buttermore, that is. Sister Buttermore told her husband one Sunday after church, That Deacon Bob sure is friendly with children. I am worried that he might be a sexual predator or a pedophile. Just today, I saw him give Julia a hug, and as he did his hand slid down to her buttocks. I think he did that on purpose. Brother Buttermore replied, Oh, Margie, Deacon Bob is a fine man. He teaches Sunday School, sings in the choir, and just last year he gave a large donation to the building fund. I would KNOW if Deacon Bob is a pervert. Men KNOW these kinds of things. Deacon Bob is NOT a pedophile. Sister Buttermore said nothing more, but she decided to pay attention to how Deacon Bob physically interacts with children.

Week after week, Sister Buttermore watched Deacon Bob, becoming more certain each week that he was not the kind of man everyone thought he was. One Sunday evening after church. Sister Buttermore decided to talk to Pastor Billy about her concerns. And just like her husband months before, Pastor Billy assured Sister Buttermore that Deacon Bob was a fine, upstanding Christian. Years ago, Pastor Billy told her, we had a man in our church who really was a pedophile. Everyone knew he was a child molester. I ran him off before he could hurt any of our children. Deacon Bob is nothing like this pervert.

Several years later, Deacon Bob took his fifth-grade girl’s Sunday School class out to eat — a reward for winning the Sunday School Perfect Attendance Award. Most families dropped their girls off at the local Chuck E. Cheese. Sister Eatmore had something come up at the last minute, so she called Deacon Bob and asked him if he would pick up Julia for the party. Deacon Bob told Sister Eatmore that he would be glad to pick Julia up and safely return her home after the party. Thanks! Deacon Bob. There’s no one I trust more with our children than you. Deacon Bob replied, no problem, Sister. I love our church’s children. I want to help every child come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Just as planned, Deacon Bob picked up eleven-year-old Julia and took her to the party. On the way home, Deacon Bob told Julia to slide over close to him. With nary a thought, groomed for this very moment, Julia complied. Deacon Bob had been hugging her for years. Everyone loved and trusted him.

Several miles away from Chuck E. Cheese, Deacon Bob takes his right hand and puts it on Julia’s thigh. Julia doesn’t seem to mind. Julia, Deacon Bob said, you know Jesus loves you, and so do I. Julia replied, I know, I love both of you too!

Years later, Julia told her therapist what happened the night Deacon Bob drove her home from the party. Twenty years had passed and Julia had never told anyone about what Deacon Bob had done to her. When Julia graduated from high school, she left home, moving three thousand miles away to San Diego. From time to time, Julia would travel home to visit her parents, but she always planned her visits so she wouldn’t have to go to church. She couldn’t bear to go to church — any church.

One year, Julia returned home for her parents’ wedding anniversary. Calvary Baptist wanted to recognize the Eatmores for being faithfully married for fifty years, so they held a party for Brother and Sister Eatmore. Julia’s mom said, Julia, I hope you will come to church for our anniversary party. Please, honey! I know you don’t like going to Calvary, but won’t you do this for us?

Guilted into submission, Julia relented. As she entered the church, Julia looked off in the distance, and there was Deacon Bob — in his eighties now — hugging a young girl. Overcome with grief, guilt, and homicidal rage, Julia ran from the building and walked back to her parents’ home. Brother and Sister Eatmore finally came home, and found Julia, with tears streaming down her face, packing her bag. What’s wrong, Julia? Sister Eatmore asked. Julia told her mom what Deacon Bob had done to her when she was eleven. Oh honey, surely you must be mistaken. Deacon Bob loves Jesus and he would never, ever do such a thing. And with that, Julia called Uber for a ride to the airport, never to return to her parents’ home.

Deacon Bob died several years later, leaving behind the testimony of a man who loved Jesus and children until the end.

Did your church have a Deacon Bob? Please share your experiences 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.

What Do Sexual Predators Look Like?

bob gray jacksonville florida preaching against elvis

Pastor Bob Gray preaching against Elvis, 1956. Gray would later be accused of sexual misconduct. Gray was a serial pedophile.

Evangelicals tend to be submissive and trusting of their pastors, believing these men are specially chosen by God to teach them the Bible and lead them in paths of righteousness. Roman Catholics treat their priests similarly. When these pillars of moral virtue behave in ways not expected, Christians have a hard time believing that Pastor or Father __________ would ever sexually abuse children, take sexual advantage of teenagers, or manipulate congregants for sexual gratification. They just KNOW that their trusted leaders would never do such things, and even after these men of God are convicted and sentenced to prison, some Christians continue to believe that their pastors/priests are innocent.

Part of the problem is that pastors and priests don’t resemble what many people expect sexual predators to look like. The late Bob Gray pastored Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for thirty-eight years. He was, by all accounts, a wonderful example of a Christian man who devotedly and resolutely followed after Jesus. Yet, when Gray died, he was scheduled to be tried on charges of sexually abusing twenty-two children. All told, Gray was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor for fifty years. His predatory ways can be traced all the way back to his days as a student preacher. Gray was, from the get-go, a rotten apple, yet, for many years, he was a revered man of God who pastored one of the largest church in the country. He didn’t “look” like a predator, and neither do most of the men who prey on naive, innocent, defenseless children, teens, and adults.

There are thousands of Bob Grays pastoring churches — from Catholic parishes to IFB congregations. Sometimes these predators spend their lives in one church, grooming entire generations to accept their predatory ways as normal. Other men move from church to church, ever on the prowl for new victims. Those who blindly trust their pastors risk being taken advantage of. Yes, most pastors are decent, thoughtful human beings, but enough of them are abusers that only the naïve among God’s people would blindly trust these men with their children and teenagers. Numerous times a week, Evangelical preachers, Mainline pastors, and Catholic priests are arrested and charged with sex crimes. And so are deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, youth ministers, Christian school teachers, and church volunteers. Churches are magnets for predators. These perverts know that Christians tend to be trusting of others — ignorantly believing claims of salvation and transformation. Even people who were convicted of sex crimes before they were “born again” are often trusted to be on their best behavior. After all, Jesus forgave them of their sins, shouldn’t Christians do the same? Evangelicals, in particular, love stories about “God” giving people second chances. Years ago, a pastor whom I know well told me that his church didn’t do background checks on workers because their past, no matter how heinous, was under the blood. In his mind, the precious blood of Jesus was some sort of magic potion that cured pedophiles and sexual predators.

blood of jesus

Recently, the Toledo Blade ran an editorial that asked the question, What do Predators Looks Like? Here’s what the article had to say:

A third Toledo pastor now stands accused as part of a sex-trafficking ring that abused teenage girls. And while the idea of clergy members colluding to exploit vulnerable girls shocks the community, it is worth remembering that human traffickers rarely look like villains out of central casting.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that the Rev. Kenneth Butler, 37, the self-proclaimed prophet affiliated with Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center, is part of the same human-trafficking conspiracy that allegedly involved the Revs. Cordell Jenkins and Anthony Haynes. Those men were arrested in April and are behind bars awaiting trial on sex trafficking and child pornography charges.

To the community, these men appear to be honorable, religious leaders. Authorities say that appearance is a façade.

Experts say that sexual predators who target children will often seek trusted positions in the community that will allow them access to young people and give parents a false sense of security. They seek jobs as coaches or teachers, clergy or youth leaders.

Evil-doers in the movies often look evil. Evil-doers in real life often work hard to look harmless. They look ordinary. They look trustworthy. They do not look as if they were cast to play the part of a villain.

In recent years, society’s understanding of human trafficking has drastically changed to reflect the scope and prevalence of the problem. This is largely thanks to the work of pioneering researchers, one of the most prominent of whom is Celia Williamson of the University of Toledo.

The nation is only beginning to come to grips with the nature and extent of human trafficking. And it is another Ohioan who has been the leader on this issue in Congress — Rob Portman.

But none of this changes the depth of the damage trafficking can do to one life or one family. And the trafficker may be hidden in plain, respectable, sight.

The pastors referenced in this editorial are three respected Toledo pastors. You can read about their crimes here and here.

Since March 2017, I have published 207 stories detailing clerical criminal — most often sexual — misconduct.  The total number of criminal preachers is much higher, of course, since some arrests don’t make the news and many predators aren’t caught. Some critics, thinking I have an axe to grind, say that the only reason I highlight these stories is that I hate God/Jesus/Christianity and I want to embarrass the Church. Emails from such people are laden with Bible verses or personal attacks, both meant to silence me. What I find interesting is that these people rarely mention the victims, and when they do they often attack them, suggesting that the sex was consensual or, as in the case of convicted felon Pastor Jack Schaap, the teenage victim was the one who seduced the adult offender. I suspect people attack me because to do otherwise would expose their culpability in allowing sexual predators to prey on church congregants in plain sight.

People of authority, be they pastors, doctors, lawyers, counselors, or teachers, are often privy to intimate details about the lives of those they serve. This access to the darkest, deepest, most vulnerable parts of our lives makes us easy targets for “servant” predators. In the 1960s, my Evangelical grandfather suggested that my mother see a Christian therapist in Lima, Ohio. According to my grandfather, this psychiatrist was a committed follower of Jesus. a man who would deliver my mom from her psychological demons. Why Mom trusted her father I will never know. After all, as a child, he sexually molested her. But, trust him she did, and this doctor proceeded to get Mom hooked on powerful narcotic/psychotropic drugs. This Evangelical servant of the Lord, once his female patients were addicted, demanded they provide him sexual favors in trade for the drugs. My mom complied with his demands. Is it any surprise, then, that my mom repeatedly tried to kill herself? — once by slitting her wrists, leaving her oldest son to find her lying in a pool of blood on the floor when he came home from school, and another time when she pulled her car into the path of a truck, totaling the vehicle, yet surviving the accident.

We will never totally put an end to sexual abuse. There will always be men (and, to a lesser degree, women) who sexually take advantage of others. When caught, these perverts should be punished, and anyone who enables their behavior should be punished too. Those whose lives were marred and ruined by sexual abuse deserve compassion and care — not blame and guilt. For churches, in particular, fundamental changes must be made to how pastors and church workers are vetted. As things now stand, Christian sects and churches are viewed as enablers and protectors of “men of God” who sexually abuse and take advantage of congregants. Church leaders whine and complain about being unfairly tarred with a broad brush, but the fact remains is that many sects/churches/pastors remain deaf, blind, and dumb when it comes to sexual abuse. Until the matter is taken seriously, church leaders might as well get used to being tarred. The damage caused by predator preachers is such that I simply don’t have the time to listen to or worry about hurting the feelings of “offended” church leaders. (Please read How Should Churches Handle Allegations of Abuse?) When my email inbox is filled with mail from abuse victims, it’s hard to give any attention to butt-hurt preachers who think their reputation and the “testimony” of their church are being hurt by sexual abuse allegations.

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.

Why Adult Women “Let” Pastors Take Sexual Advantage of Them

child abuse 2

By now, regular readers of this blog who follow the Black Collar Crime Series know that Evangelicalism has a Catholic church-sized problem with sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. For years, Evangelical churches and pastors pointed fingers at the Great Whore of Babylon — the Roman Catholic Church — condemning its ever-growing sexual abuse scandal, all the while ignoring the increasing number of sex-related scandals in their own ranks. It is clear, at least to me, that Evangelicals have no high moral ground when it comes to sex crimes; that Evangelical pastors, deacons, elders, Sunday school teachers, Christian school teachers, bus drivers, worship leaders, and choir directors can and do rape, assault, and abuse. Add to this the consensual affairs, cavorting with prostitutes, and being “addicted” to porn, and it seems, despite all the preaching against sexual sin, that so-called men of God are not practicing what they preach.

I am in no way suggesting that a large number of Evangelical pastors are sexual predators. I have no doubt that many pastors are true to their marital vows, don’t prey on children, and generally try to practice what they preach. (Please read Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?) That said, many Evangelical churches do a poor job of keeping congregants — especially children and teenagers — safe from abuse at the hands of men given the responsibility and authority to lead them. Churches wrongly think that if they do a one-time background check and it comes back clean that they have done their due diligence. However, background checks only show criminal convictions, and if not done regularly, such checks would not catch convictions after the original background check was performed. Churches should annually run thorough background checks. When interviewing men for open pulpits, churches should call the candidates’ previous churches to see if there were any whispers of sexual misconduct. It is astounding how many churches hire men with checkered pasts, not bothering to check on whether they have left behind at their previous jobs allegations of sexual impropriety.

Evangelical churches are often quite sensitive to how they are viewed in their communities, knowing that rumors about sexual scandal could damage their reputations. This is why, instead of obeying reporting laws and putting the needs of victims first, many churches, when they hear of sexual misconduct, investigate it themselves and try to cover it up. In doing so, churches often violate state sexual abuse reporting laws. Sadly, prosecutors have been hesitant to prosecute pastors and church leaders for not reporting abuse. Imagine how different things might be if a few pastors were sentenced to a year in the county jail for failing to report sexual abuse. I bet that would get their attention, and result in more churches following the law. (Please read How Should Churches Handle Allegations of Abuse?)

Many Evangelical churches are independent or part of loosely affiliated sects such as the Southern Baptist Convention. Since each church governs itself, there is no central authority that handles claims of abuse or disciplines pastors accused of criminal behavior. Every church is its own final authority, and far too many churches have been willing to shove clergy sexual misconduct under the proverbial rug rather than see their pastors criminally prosecuted and their victims receive justice. Even worse, victims are often shamed into silence. Jesus forgave us, shouldn’t we forgive others? victims are told. Pastor said this was all a big misunderstanding, and he promises, before God himself, that he will never, ever do anything like this again! Will you forgive him?  And by doing this, churches abuse victims all over again and predator pastors are free to continue trolling the church membership (or a new church’s membership) for fresh victims.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in America, yet, as of this date, they refuse to establish a centralized database that tracks allegations and prosecutions of pastor/church leader criminal conduct. Southern Baptist leaders say that they must protect pastors from false allegations, and developing a database of accusations would “convict” pastors without the benefit of a trial. While false allegations are always possible, they are actually very, very rare. At the very least, a database of allegations would help when looking for patterns of misconduct. Using the “where there is smoke there is fire” approach, when a pastor has several accusations lodged against him, it is likely that he is up to no good.

An overarching problem in Evangelical congregations is that people are naïve and too trusting. I have posted numerous Black Collar Crime reports detailing congregations who refused to believe that their pastors could ever do such terrible things. Often, they will defend their pastors, accusing me of trying to smear or discredit their churches. After all, I am an atheist, a tool of Satan, so anything I write can’t be trusted. However, the content for the Black Collar Crime Series comes from news and police reports. I only report what can be verified. As a result, offended church members, in time, learned my reports were correct and their pastors were indeed capable of everything from rape to murder to theft. Pastors are not above the fray morally or ethically, and as long as the sheep think they are, predator clergy will continue to prey on and fleece the flock.

Recently, I posted an article about Mitch Olson, pastor of Grace Ministry Center in Kimball, Michigan, being accused of sexually assaulting a woman during an anointing ritual. When confronted by church leaders, Olson said his hand must have slipped in the anointing oil. (Please read Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Mitch Olson Accused of Sexually Assaulting Church Member.) The woman Olson allegedly abused is an adult who had been a member of Grace since sixth grade. When people read stories such as this one — especially readers who never Evangelicals — they often wonder why the woman just didn’t say NO or fight back. Surely, as a grown woman, she knew that it was wrong for her pastor to be “anointing” her breasts, buttocks, and genitals. Shouldn’t she bear some culpability in what happened? Isn’t this really just a matter of consensual behavior gone awry?

Pastors are, by law, considered authority figures, and as such are held to a high standard of moral and ethical conduct. Because pastors are often intimately involved in the lives of their parishioners — much like doctors, lawyers, and counselors — there is always a danger of people being manipulated and controlled, leading to abusive behavior and sexual misconduct. Pastors often know the dark, deep secrets of their parishioners, and this gives them power over their congregants. Professional lines can quickly become blurred, resulting in criminal misconduct. While pastors can and do have consensual sexual affairs with women in their church, often these affairs are actually abuses of authority and should be treated as such.

In the case of Mitch Olson and Justine Morden, the victim had spent her formative years in Grace Ministry Church, with Olson as her pastor.  Morden deeply respected and trusted Olson. I am sure she never thought that Olson would sexually take advantage of her. Remember, most Evangelicals are taught that their pastor/pastors/elders are their spiritual leaders and guides. Called “men of God”, these pastors are often viewed as the rulers of their churches. Given great power, authority, and control, Evangelical pastors can, with impunity, misuse and abuse their congregations. In some Baptist circles such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, pastors often have absolute control over their churches, acting more like kings and potentates than humble servants.

It should not come as a shock to the reader to learn that, because congregants are often raised in such authoritarian, controlling churches, many of them lose their ability to discern harm or misbehavior. Why, Pastor Bob would never, ever harm me. He loves and cares for my soul and prays for me daily! When congregants lose discernment abilities, it is not hard then for a pastor to manipulate church members into doing whatever it is he wants them to do. This is especially the case for women who have spent their lives being taught that God commands them to be submissive to male authority — their fathers when they are young, their husbands when they are married, and their pastors when it comes to spiritual matters. Totally disarmed and subservient to men, women become easy targets for pastors to take advantage of.

It is clear that many sexually abused Evangelical women didn’t “let” their abusers do anything. Thanks to their immersion in cult-like teachings and behaviors, along with misogynistic, patriarchal views of the fairer sex, it is evident that many women are like lambs to the slaughter, easy marks for those out to take advantage of them.  As Justine Morden and countless other Evangelical women have learned, just because a man calls himself pastor doesn’t mean he should trusted. While scores of predatory clergy are exposed and convicted every year, countless others fly under the radar, using their positions of power and authority to take advantage of trusting, unsuspecting women. Until churches and sects are willing to out these predators and publicly burn them at the stake — so to speak — they will continue to wreak havoc and destruction.

Note

This post is focused on women because the overwhelming majority of Evangelical clergy sexual abuse consists of male pastors abusing female teenagers and women. This does not mean I am ignoring male-on-male abuse or child sexual abuse. It too is a problem, but for this post alone, I have focused on the question raised in the title.

Is All Forgiven for David Hyles?

David hyles facebook

David Hyles, Facebook Profile Picture

David Hyles is the son of the late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for many years. During his younger years, David Hyles was the youth pastor at First Baptist. While there, he sexually preyed on women, resulting in his father quietly, in the dead of night, shipping him off to pastor an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Church that knew nothing of David’s philandering. As sexual predators are wont to do, David Hyles continued his whoring ways, leading to his expulsion from the church. If you are not familiar with the David and Jack Hyles story, please read:

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome

David Hyles Says ‘My Bad, Jesus’

blood of jesus

In recent years, David Hyles has been showing up at IFB churches and events, acting as if what happened in the past is ancient history and no longer relevant. Praise Jesus! He has been forgiven! It’s time for people such as myself to move on and give the guy a break. Yes, he was a serial adulterer. Yes, he preyed on women. Yes, he was a despicable human being. But, “Brother Dave’ has played his “washed-by-the-blood, get-out-of-jail-free card. As far as he is concerned, his sin account has been settled and he is free to move forward in the fullness and wonder of God’s mercy and grace. Never mind the fact that Hyles has NEVER given a public accounting of his very public misconduct, and as far as I know he has not contacted nor made restitution to the countless people he has harmed. Doing so, of course, would require him to admit actions that still could be criminally prosecuted.

According to a comment of the Fighting Fundamental Forums — Hyles-Anderson College forum, David Hyles and his family were in attendance at the July 24-27, 2017 National Sword of the Lord Conference. This annual gathering of IFB preachers and congregants is held at Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, North Carolina. Bobby Roberson is the pastor of Gospel Light — one of the larger IFB churches in the country. The Sword of the Lord Conference is put on by Shelton Smith, the editor of the Sword of the Lord. This year’s conference speakers included: Mike Allison, Joe Arthur, Max Barton, Norris Belcher, Justin Cooper, Jeff Fugate, John Hamblin, Richard Harper, Jon Jenkins, Lou Rossi, Jim Townsley, and Mike Wells. (Most of the speakers use the Dr. before their names. Please read IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor)

David Hyles was, as the following comment shows, in attendance at least one of the conference days. A Fighting Fundamental Forums commenter using the moniker Twisted posted a comment a friend of his made on Facebook:

While on a trip in North Carolina with one of our church men, we attended three evening services of the annual National Sword of the Lord Conference on Revival and Soul-Winning. One of the pleasures for me at the conference was to get to see Brother David Hyles, who has been a good friend and encouragement on Facebook. His dad, Jack Hyles, was my favorite preacher. Brother David’s wife, Brenda, took this photo. I thought she did a great job considering the subject matter.

After a period of waywardness, Brother Hyles (David) appears to have been on the right track again for some years now, and he has been trying to use his own restoration to encourage others who need the same. I count him as a friend! For any of you who might have a problem with that, I want to remind you that he is no longer out in a far country nor in the field feeding swine, but he is back at the Father’s house. Stay outside and pout if you want to, or you can come in and enjoy the Father’s celebration of restored fellowship!

david hyles greatest men

Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men

Sorry, but I want to puke. According to the aforementioned Facebook friend, it’s time for people to forgive Hyles and move one. First, I have no need to forgive David Hyles. He never did anything to me, so there is nothing for him to apologize for — not that there is any evidence that Hyles (like his father) has apologized to anyone. My goal is to hold a man who was considered one of the “greatest men on earth” accountable for his abuse of countless trusting Christian women. Until Hyles gives a public accounting of his past actions and makes appropriate restitution, I intend to continue to smack him over the head every time I hear of him sticking his bald pate out of the hole he crawled into.

Black Collar Crime: Pentecostal Youth Pastor Andrew Jackson Convicted of Rape

pastor andrew jackson

Andrew Jackson, youth pastor for The Victory Tabernacle of Hot Springs United Pentecostal Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas was convicted Thursday of rape. Jackson could face up to eighty years in prison for his crimes. Steven Mross with the Hot Springs Sentinel Recorder reports:

A former youth pastor accused of raping two teenage girls in 2014 in Hot Springs was convicted Thursday after a four-day trial in Garland County Circuit Court and could face up to 80 years in prison.

Andrew Lee Jackson, 31, who lists a White Hall address, was found guilty of two felony counts of rape, with the eight-man, four-woman jury recommending a sentence of 40 years on each count. Jackson, who was taken into custody after the verdict and is being held on zero bond, is scheduled to be formally sentenced April 11. Judge Marcia Hearnsberger will decide at the sentencing hearing whether to run the sentences concurrently or consecutively.

….

The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding Jackson guilty and less than 30 minutes to recommend the sentence. Lawrence noted Hearnsberger did not instruct the jury to decide on consecutive or concurrent and would be making the decision herself.

Jackson was originally charged with 13 counts of rape, with 10 involving one victim, who was 16 at the time, and three involving the younger victim, who was 13 at the time, one for each incident of rape, but Lawrence said they amended it to two counts, one for each victim, before the trial since each count is punishable by up to life in prison.

The jury heard three days of testimony beginning Monday, including testimony from both victims, Garland County sheriff’s investigators, the girls’ therapist, Jackson, his wife, and his pastor from childhood during the guilt phase.

Lawrence said they also presented cellphone evidence involving text messages sent between Jackson and the two victims that corroborated the victims’ allegations, and she noted that she felt it was a significant factor in the jury’s decision.

They also presented witnesses who “saw various things” which also corroborated the victim’s story, including one who “walked in” on Jackson and the 16-year-old “under the covers” and another who testified about being involved in a three-way phone call with Jackson and one victim.

She said the victims, who each went through three years of counseling and therapy, were both “able to take the stand and talk about what happened to them,” and it was clear the jury believed them.

While the charge involving the 13-year-old was based solely on her age at the time, Lawrence said she used a different approach with the 16-year-old, arguing Jackson was essentially her guardian because she was living with Jackson and his wife at the time the rapes occurred.

“Even though he wasn’t her parent or foster parent, he still qualified as her guardian because she had moved in with him and his wife,” she said, noting that under the law he was then guilty of rape if the victim was younger than 18 years old.

….

She told investigators she would often spend the night at the Jackson home, sleeping in the living room with Jackson and his wife on a sectional sofa separated into three pieces. She said at one point Jackson told her he “felt like a monster” for what he had done, although she was uncertain what all happened during the encounter because she was asleep.

She said she knew she and Jackson first had sexual relations about a week before the start of school in August on the sectional in the living room while his wife was asleep on the other section.

Jackson was arrested on Dec. 22, 2014, and charged with three counts of rape.

The victim’s sister, 16, was interviewed at that time about any possible sexual contact she had with Jackson, but initially denied anything had happened between them.

The sisters shared a cellphone and had both communicated with Jackson on the phone. In reviewing text messages from the phone, investigators felt confident the 16-year-old was also a victim of sexual abuse.

On Sept. 21, 2016, the sister was interviewed again at Cooper-Anthony and disclosed she had sexual intercourse with Jackson “at least 10 times,” beginning in August 2014 and continuing through October 2014.

She stated the rapes occurred in a bedroom at Jackson’s home and the first time he had covered her mouth while he raped her. She punched him at one point during the rape trying to get him off her. She said Jackson threatened her, telling her if she told anyone he would burn up her family’s house with her and her family inside.

She said Jackson continued to have sex with her almost weekly for nearly three months and that she was scared what he might do if she told anyone.

When questioned, Jackson confirmed he and his wife would sleep in the living room on the sofa sections, but denied the victim’s accusations and insisted his only relationship with her was that of youth pastor.

Wright noted that in mid-December 2014, he viewed “inappropriate text messages” extracted from the victim’s phone, which indicated Jackson had “much more than a youth pastor relationship” with the victim.

In the texts, Jackson made such comments as “I love you so much” and “I missed you this weekend terribly” and “I’m sorry I can’t be with you.”

 

Why Evangelical Church Members Have a Hard Time Believing Their Pastors Do Bad Things

timothy keller quote

Why is it that many Evangelical Christians have a hard time believing that pastors, evangelists, parachurch leaders, Christian university presidents, and other notable Christian leaders commit crimes such as sexual assault, rape, child abuse, murder, and fraud or otherwise engage in behaviors deemed by faithful Christians to be sinful?  Every time I write a post about a pastor or some other Christian leader committing crime or behaving in ways that make them out to be hypocrites, I end up getting comments and emails from people objecting to my publicizing the story. Often, these objectors leave comments that suggest that they have some sort of inside knowledge about the matter, and once the “truth” comes out the accused will be vindicated. Other objectors will take the “they are innocent until proven guilty” approach, subtly suggesting that these kinds of stories should not be publicized until there has been a trial and a conviction. With righteous indignation they attack me, the messenger, for daring to publish anything about the stories, warning me that God is going to get me for causing harm to his servants and his church. And when the trials are over and convictions are handed down, do these same people return to this site with heads humbly held low, confessing that they did not know these men and women as well as they thought they did? Of course not. If anything, they will demand forgiveness for the offender. After all, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, right?

Last year, I remember a number of people getting upset with me over my publicizing on Facebook their pastor’s criminal behavior. He didn’t do it!. I KNOW this man! I’ve been friends with him for 20 years! He led me to Jesus! It’s just the word of a confused teenager against the word of an honorable, devoted man of God. It was interesting to watch all these outraged people disappear once multiple girls came forward from several churches and said that this pastor had taken sexual advantage of them. Why is it these church members had a hard time believing that their pastor committed felony sexual crimes?

When Jack Schaap was accused of carrying on a sexual affair with a teenage girl he was counseling, scores of outraged members and supporters of First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana came to this blog and declared Schaap’s innocence. These are the same people who, to this day, believe that Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, never carried on with his secretary, and these same people, while not condoning David Hyles’ heinous crimes, demand that he be given favorable treatment since God has forgiven him. Who are we to condemn, if God has forgiven him, they said. He that is without sin let him cast the first stone! Judge not!

Bob Gray, the one-time pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville Florida, was accused of sexually molesting young children. Countless Gray supporters said that their pastor could never do such a thing, yet we now know that it is likely he had been a sexual predator for most of the fifty years he spent in the ministry. How is it possible that a pastor who was considered by many, including myself, to be a Holy Ghost-filled man of God, could, for decades, sexually harm children, yet no one know about it (or at least was willing to report it)?

Last week, Justin White, pastor of First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Come to find out, White was a heroin addict. I found myself asking, how is it possible that a man could preach three times a week and lead a large church while on heroin? Those must have been some pretty awesome and inspiring sermons. Did church leaders know that White had a heroin problem? It seems likely that they did. In 2015, White went out of state for thirty-two days to a rehab center, returning clean to a none-the-wiser church congregation. If news reports are to be believed, White’s recovery was short-lived, resulting in him committing insurance fraud to pay a $11,000 debt he owed to a drug dealer. Despite the evidence and White’s subsequent resignation, there are congregants who believe that their pastor is innocent of all charges. Why do these church members, and others like them, have such a hard time believing that the man who stands in the pulpit on Sunday can be someone other than who he says he is?

These same people have no problem believing that non-Christians commit all sorts of crimes. When newspapers report the crimes of unbelievers these followers of Jesus shake their heads and say, if they only put their faith and trust in Jesus all things would become new for them. In their minds, Jesus is an antidote for bad and criminal behavior. And, to be honest, he often is, or least the idea of Jesus is an antidote for behavior deemed sinful or unlawful. Countless alcoholics and drug addicts clean up after having a come to Jesus moment. While I could write much about why this is so, the fact remains that in some instances having some sort of conversion experience leads people to change their ways. If Jesus really is the antidote for sin and the answer for what ails us, why then do so many Christians fall (or run) into behaviors that are considered sinful or criminal? Why is there no difference behavior-wise between nonbelievers and believers?

The reason then that Evangelicals have a hard time believing their pastors could ever commit the crimes they are accused of is because they think — despite evidence to the contrary — that people are protected from moral and ethical failure by their Christian salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside them. This is why the Black Collar Crime series is so important. The series is a public reminder of the fact that religion, in and of itself, does not make anyone a better person. It can, and perhaps at times does, but there are countless people who are nonreligious or who are members of religious sects Evangelicals have deemed false who live exemplary lives. Religion is not a prerequisite to goodness. And because Evangelicals refuse to understand this, they find it difficult to accept that the men and women they hold up as pillars of morality and virtue can really be perverts and criminals in disguise.

While we should generally trust people, we should not do so blindly, and therein lies the problem for many Evangelicals. They are taught to obey those that have authority over them. They are reminded that gossip is a sin and that church members should not believe an accusation against an elder (pastor) unless it can be firmly established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Jack Hyles was fond of saying, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Countless Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have used this very line to turn back whispers about their sexual infidelity or criminal behavior. You keep your mouth shut now. If you didn’t see it happen, you have no business talking about it. I’m sure former IFB church members can remember blistering sermons about gossip and about the dangers of speaking badly about the man of God. Remember those boys who mocked the man of God in the Bible? Why, bears came out of the woods and ate them. Best keep your tongue quiet, lest God send bears to eat you. How often do Evangelicals hear sermons about not touching God’s anointedMind your own business, church members are told, and let God take care of the preacher. If he is sinning, God will punish him. But here is the problem with this kind of thinking: God doesn’t punish sinning preachers. They just keep on sinning and sinning and sinning. They will keep on molesting little boys and girls, raping teenagers, and sleeping with vulnerable congregants until real flesh-and-blood human beings make them stop.

Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, yet did nothing. They were more concerned about the testimony of the church than they were the victims. Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, conducted their own investigations, and once finished, buried the accusations or elicited a promise from offenders that they would never, ever do again that which they were accused of. After all, since Jesus has forgiven them, shouldn’t the church? The short answer to this question is HELL NO! When clergy commit criminal acts that harm other people, they must be held accountable. This is why states have mandatory reporting laws. When church leadership hears of reports of possible criminal sexual misconduct they are required to immediately report these actions to law enforcement. It is not their responsibility to investigate or mete out punishment. We have a legal system that is responsible for investigating crimes and bringing offenders to justice. I wish more churches would be prosecuted for failing to report. If a handful of church deacons or elders had to spend time in jail for not reporting or covering up crimes, perhaps this would put an end to these men and women placing their religious institutions reputations above the welfare of those who have been victimized.

I spent twenty-five years in the ministry. From the time I was fifteen to the age of fifty-one, I was a member of the preacher fraternity. I know what went on behind closed doors. I know about scandals, sexual affairs, fraud, and suspected criminal behavior. I know where the bodies are buried. I know the real story behind Pastor So-and-So’s abrupt call to a new church. I know why certain missionaries had to come home from the field, never to return. I know that preachers are not any different from the people they pastor. Yes, most pastors are good people. Yes, most pastors generally desire to help others. What is also true is that some pastors are lazy and see the ministry as a way to make a quick and easy buck. It is also true that some pastors watch pornography and have sexual affairs with people in and out of their churches. People are people, and the sooner that church members understand this, the better. Stop putting pastors on pedestals. Stop thinking that pastors and their families are in any way better than anyone else. They are not, and I wish that pastors would stand before their congregations on Sundays and be honest about this.

The reason they don’t, of course, is because few congregants want honesty and transparency. Instead, they want pastors who are victorious over sin. They want pastors who are above the fray. They want winners! They want men and women they can look up to as examples of moral purity and virtue. Years ago, I remember admitting in a sermon that I knew what it was to lust after a woman. My objective was to let congregants know that I was just like them, that I was not in any way morally superior to them. After the service a man came up to me and told me that he was upset over my confession. In no uncertain terms, he let me know that he didn’t want to hear about my sins or failures. He wanted a pastor who was a shining example of holiness and righteousness. In other words, he wanted me to be God. Needless to say, this man did not last long in our church. He quickly found out that I was, like the apostle Paul, the chiefest of sinners.

Have you ever attended a church where the pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other revered leader in the church was accused of criminal behavior or sexual misconduct? How did the church respond to these accusations? Were some of the members unwilling to believe that the accused could do the things he or she was accused of? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ken Adkins Turns Down Plea Deal

pastor ken adkins

Seven months ago, Ken Adkins, pastor of Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship in Brunswick, Georgia was arrested and charged with “three counts of child molestation, five counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of influencing a witness.” Adkins defense rests not on his innocence, but his contention that the victim was an adult when he sexually took advantage of them. Right victim, wrong year.

News 4 Jax reports:

Pastor Ken Adkins, who has been in a Glynn County jail for seven months on charges he molested a teenage boy six years ago, turned down a plea deal Friday.

Prosecutors offered Adkins a sentence of five to 30 years if he were to plead guilty to child molestation, but his defense team turned it down. Adkins has said he is innocent of all charges.

Adkins, 56, a pastor of the Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, was denied bond in September on child-molestation charges, and indicted by the Glynn County grand jury last month on three counts of child molestation, five counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of influencing a witness.

….

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a young man told investigators that Adkins molested him in 2010 when he was a member of Adkins’ church as a boy younger than 16.

Prosecutors said they not only have explicit text messages and photos sent from Adkins phone, they also have a young woman’s testimony in which she makes allegations of sex crimes. The woman, who was in the youth ministry at Adkins’ church at the time, said that Adkins watched her and a teenage boy have sex in a Brunswick hotel several years ago.

The woman says after the incident, Adkins touched her inappropriately.

Adkins’ attorney, Kevin Gough, argued that the alleged incident didn’t take place in 2009, but instead a few years later, when the boy called a victim in the case was an adult.

“The charges set forth in the indictment allege that the crimes took place when he was under the age of 16, so the timeline is very important to this,” Gough said. “He has maintained his innocence, and we look forward to his day in court.”

A judge said he is also taking into consideration the account of a police officer, who interviewed the victim and the young woman and Adkins during his investigation, before he makes a ruling on what evidence will be admissible when the trial begins April 3.

In Georgia, aggravated child abuse is considered a capital crime. While the death penalty is not considered likely, Adkins could face up to life in prison if convicted.

You might remember that Adkins is one of the pastors who said the Pulse Club victims got exactly what they deserved.

ken adkins quote

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jose Aboytes Charged With Sexual Assault

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

Herald & Review reports:

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

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

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

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

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

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jacob Malone Plans to Admit He Raped Church Teenager

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Other posts about Jacob Malone: Black Collar Crime: Judge Rejects Calvary Fellowship Pastor Jacob Malone’s Plea Agreement and Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jacob Malone Sentenced to 3-6 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

According to the Daily Local News, Jacob Malone, one time pastor at Calvary Fellowship in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, plans to “enter a guilty plea to criminal charges brought in the case of a teenager he allegedly raped and impregnated. The Local News article states:

The former pastor at a Uwchlan megachurch intends to enter a guilty plea to criminal charges brought in the case of a teenager he allegedly raped and impregnated, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Assistant District Attorney Emily Provencher of the DA’s Child Abuse Unit told Common Pleas President Judge Jacqueline Carroll Cody in court that Jacob Matthew “Jake” Malone had made it clear through his attorney that he would plead guilty and be sentenced.

….

Malone, 34, of Exton, is charged with rape, sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors, and endangering the welfare of children. He has been held on bail in Chester County Prison since his arrest in January 2016 after returning to the United States from Ecuador.

According to police, the victim reported that she had met Malone at a church in Mesa, Arizona, when she was approximately 12 years old. Malone was a pastor at the church that the victim attended. Several years later, in June of 2014, Malone contacted the then 17-year-old victim and invited her to stay with him and his family in Minnesota, where he had become a pastor at a local church.

While in Minnesota, police said, the victim alleged that Malone began trying to have inappropriate contact with her. In July 2014, Malone moved his family to Chester County, where he was starting a new position as a pastor at Calvary Fellowship, a non-denominational church off Route 100. Malone again invited the victim to live with him and his family, and he even registered the victim in a local high school.

The victim, according to police, reported that Malone began sexually assaulting her in the fall of 2014 while she was living at his residence in the unit block of Atherton Drive in Exton and attending Calvary. She was 18 at the time.

The victim reported that Malone provided alcohol to her on two occasions, and that during one of those incidents, the victim alleged that she became highly intoxicated and was molested by Malone.

Amazingly, Malone views his future criminal prosecution and incarceration as an “opportunity” to serve God. Please listen to the following video of Malone’s plea for prayer and understanding in light of the fact that this loving father and man of God got a female church member drunk and had sex with her.

Video Link

Based on conflicting information, Calvary Fellowship did indeed report Malone to the police, but they may have investigated his victim’s allegations first before reporting him. Once again, let me say, it is NOT the responsibility of churches or pastors to investigate anything. They have one duty and one duty alone — REPORT THE ALLEGATIONS! (Please read How Should Churches Handle Allegations of Abuse?)

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This screenshot from the church’s Twitter feed leads me to conclude that they investigated FIRST before calling law enforcement. As I told one complaining church member who was upset because my posts make the church look bad, it matters not if they waited two hours, two days, or two weeks. Church leaders, upon hearing the allegations made against Jacob Malone, should have IMMEDIATELY contacted the police; immediately as in 9-1-1-like speed. That Malone was able to flee the country before a warrant being issued for his arrest, leads me to believe that there was a delay in his crimes being reported to the police.

You can find more information about this case here.

Black Collar Crime: Lutheran Pastor William Helker Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Distribution Charges

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In October 2016, William Helker,(youth) pastor of All Saint Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, At the time, KSTP Channel 5 reported:

Authorities have arrested a 47-year-old pastor after searching his Pine City home and a Cottage Grove church during a child pornography investigation.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says William Leonard Helker was arrested Wednesday at his home on the 15000 block of Copper Canyon Road in Pine City.

The arrest came after BCA agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed search warrants on October 26, at Helker’s home and All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove, where Helker is a pastor.

Helker was arrested without incident and was booked into the Pine County Jail on suspicion of possessing pornography involving minors, the BCA said.

Members of the church say they found out about the arrest via email Wednesday night.

They say Helker worked with kids conducting first communion and confirmation classes, but worked with adults as well.

“Is this pretty startling to hear this? Oh yes, oh yes. I’m really shocked, really shocked. He’s an up front guy, has always been since he started preaching there, and I really liked him, really like him. I see him at social events too, he comes to social events we have through the church,” says church member James Corbin.

All Saints Lutheran Church released a statement saying, “We are aware of the arrest of William Helker and he was placed on administrative leave yesterday. We are concerned and ask prayers for all affected and will cooperate fully with law enforcement. We are committed to providing safe spaces for all children and youth at All Saints and in the community.”

Today, Helker pleaded guilty to the distribution of child pornography, including photographs of church children. KSTP Channel 5 reports:

A former Cottage Grove pastor pleaded guilty in federal court to distribution of child pornography Thursday.

Forty-seven-year-old William Leonard Helker of Pine City was arrested in October at his home. The arrest came after Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a search warrant at his home and All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove.

The agency was tipped off by Facebook and Instagram that a user was suspected of possessing child porn.

Investigators said they found Helker communicated with a man in Finland, planning to trade images of preteen and teenage girls, according to the criminal complaint.

The photo involved two pre-pubescent girls as young as 5 and a pubescent man engaging in sexual acts.

According to court documents, Helker admitted in his plea he had conversations about his sexual interest in children, had more than 900 child porn images and 300 child porn videos in his possession, “including images of prepubescent minors under the age of 12 and depictions of sadistic and masochistic abuse.”

Helker admitted to investigators he took the photos of four minors who attended church events and edited their photos on to adult porn images. He said the photos he created were “in the hundreds.”

Update

CBS-4 reports:

A former youth pastor from Cottage Grove is sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for distribution of child pornography.

William Helker, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography in March. A U.S. District Court judge sentenced Helker to 150 months in prison last week, along with 15 years of supervised release.

….

Stillwater Patch reports:

A youth pastor out of Cottage Grove will serve a federal prison sentence after distributing child pornography. William Leonard Helker, 47, pleaded guilty on March 3, to one count of distribution of child pornography. On July 27, United States District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz sentenced Helker to 150 months in federal prison and 15 years of supervised release.

“Helker is a dangerous child predator who disguised himself as a youth pastor. Instead of providing guidance to young people, he used his position as a trusted leader to prey upon them,” said Assistant United States Attorney Katharine Buzicky in a statement.

“This child sexual exploitation case originated in Finland with the arrest there of another child predator,” said J. Alex Khu, special agent in charge of HSI Saint Paul.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on October 22, 2016, Homeland Security Investigations and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension received a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicating that a Minnesota man exchanged child pornography with and individual in Finland.

The cybertip was listed as “Priority 1” because NCMEC assessed that children were currently in danger. Through a joint investigation, BCA and HSI agents were able to identify the Minnesota man as William Helker, a youth pastor at All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove.

….

Woman Sexually Abused by First Baptist Church Deacon A.V. Ballenger Speaks Out

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For many years, especially during the decades the church was pastored by Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana was the spiritual home for countless sexual predators and con artists. Most evaded detection thanks to cover-ups orchestrated by the fearsome, loyalty-demanding Hyles.

The scandals and stories are many, yet to this day more than a few Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) unquestionably believe that most of sordid tales are lies manufactured by those who hate Jack Hyles and have it out for the church. No amount of evidence will convince them otherwise.

Personally, I have given up trying to talk sense to Hyles’ loyalists. When Hyles himself was accused of sexual and ministerial misconduct, his sycophants wore buttons that said 100% HYLES. Today, the thinking that led to the buttons remains alive and well. The nastiest commenters I have ever dealt with on this blog are the followers of Jack Hyles. No matter how many sick stories emanate from the darkest corners of First Baptist in Hammond, Jack Hyles, who paved the way for his preacher son to prey on church women, his pastor son in-law to take sexual advantage of a church teen, and for deacons, Sunday school teachers, bus workers, and Hyles-Anderson preacher boys to sexually assault children and vulnerable adults, remains, in the eyes of many, above reproach. For whatever reason, the devoted followers of Jack Hyles are unable to make the connection between Hyles — their demigod — and the doctrines, beliefs and practices that facilitated criminal behavior

Almost twenty-five years ago, well-known First Baptist deacon A.V. Ballenger was convicted of sexually molesting a seven-year-old church girl. Three other women testified at Ballenger’s sentencing that they too had been molested by him. Tamiko Grace was one of the women who testified.

Yesterday, the Northwest Times published a story written by Steve Garrison detailing Grace’s story:

Tamiko “Tammy” Grace told The Times last week it was the grace of God that allowed her to forgive the former church employee she said molested her when she attended First Baptist Church in the mid-1970s.

Grace, a 44-year-old mother of three children, said she was molested when she was 5 years old by A.V. Ballenger, a former church deacon convicted in March 1993 of molesting a 7-year-old girl in 1991 during a Sunday School class at the Hammond church.
….
Grace was one of three women who testified they were abused as children by Ballenger at the former deacon’s sentencing hearing in June 1993, according to The Times archives.

Grace told The Times last week that Ballenger groped her repeatedly when he was a school bus driver for the church.
“I didn’t know it was wrong,” she said. “I was so young, I just thought it was love.”

Ballenger maintained his innocence at the sentencing hearing and claimed the women, one of whom was his own niece, testified for sympathy and attention, according to the archives.

Grace said she instead testified due to the guilt she felt for not coming forward sooner. She was 22 years old and had a young child when she finally reported the incident to authorities. She feared she could have saved other girls from abuse if she had reported it sooner.

“This was my chance to make the wrong right,” she said.

Ballenger was sentenced to five years in prison, court records state. The 81-year-old now lives in Alabama, according to the state’s sex offender registry. He could not be reached for comment.

Grace said she struggled for years to deal with the shame she felt as a result of the molestation, but she attended therapy and continued to find strength in God.

You can read the entire article here.

Video Link

If you are not familiar with Jack Hyles and First Baptist Church, please read the articles below.

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome

David Hyles Says ‘My Bad, Jesus’

The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles

Jack Hyles Teaches Parents How to Indoctrinate Their Babies

Jack Hyles Tells Unsubmissive Woman to Kill Herself

Jack Hyles Gives Advice on How to Raise a Girl

1991 Current Affairs Report: Jack Hyles Stole My Wife

In 2013, Chicago Magazine published a lengthy article on the plethora of sexual predators and abuse problems associated with First Baptist Church. You can read the article here.

 

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor David Boyd Charged With Disseminating Child Porn

pastor david boyd

David Boyd, pastor of Wheelwright Baptist Center (link no longer active) in Wheelwright, Kentucky, was arrested and charged with “distribution of matter portraying sex performance by a minor.”  LEX18.com reports:

The former pastor of Wheelwright Baptist Church has been arrested and charged with distribution of matter portraying sex performance by a minor.

David Boyd was arrested Friday morning at 9:08 a.m.

Boyd is still listed as the Director of Wheelwright Baptist Church, but we are told that he recently stepped away as pastor. Neighbors say that he stepped down around the time they saw police raiding his home and taking computers.

According to the Wheelwright Baptist Center website: (link no longer active)

David and Stephanie Boyd  are the new directors of the former Kentucky Baptist Convention-owned ministry center in the Floyd County community of Wheelwright. A native of Wheelwright, David Boyd said his “spiritual mentor” was longtime center director and NAMB missionary, Charles Wilson. The Appalachian headquarters of World Servants, a ministry with its roots in Youth for Christ, will be headquartered at the ministry center. Stephanie Boyd directs World Servants Appalachian initiative

Wheelwright Baptist is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.