Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Black Collar Crime (October 2018)

Vol. 35 No. 8 October 2018
Confession cartoon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Timothy Urban, 52, Van Alstyne, TX: Sexual assault, bigamy and sexual performance of a child. Urban is part-time youth director at First United Methodist Church. Alleged incidents date back to 2015. According to his now-deleted biography on the church website, he’s married with 2 children and has coached youth soccer teams. Source: KTEN, 8-25-18

Suphachai Suthiyano, 64, Kanchanaburi, Thailand: Assault resulting in death. Suthiyano, a Buddhist monk, is accused of battering a 9-year-old temple novice with a stick and slamming his head into a pillar after he disrupted a ceremony. The boy died after falling into a coma. Source: AFP, 8-24-18

Kevin Lonergan, 30, Allentown, PA: Felony corruption of minors and misdemeanor indecent assault. Lonergan, assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, is accused of sexually touching a 17-year-old girl he met at another parish and sending her nude photos on Snapchat.

The girl alleged to investigators in June that Lonergan embraced her Feb. 1 at St. Francis Parish and that she could feel he had an erection before he grabbed her buttocks. She said she told a priest at Central Catholic High School, who alerted the bishop’s office. Source: Morning Call, 8-21-18

Ricardo Strachan, 40, Lauderhill, FL: Performing a lewd or lascivious act on a victim between the ages of 12 and 16. Strachan, who led Prophetic Worshipers International Church, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl about 60 times in 2016. Police said he scared her into keeping the abuse a secret by having her steal clothes and other items from her family for him to use in voodoo rituals.

Avo A. Roker, 32, Strachan’s friend and the girl’s stepfather, is charged with sexual battery. A website from 2015 listed him as senior pastor of Believer Community Church in Nassau, Bahamas. The church now appears to have new leadership. Source: WPLG, 8-19-18

Bryan Engfer, 57, Ft. Atkinson, WI: Suspicion of theft from a business setting of more than $2,500 when he was pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, where he no longer works after an audit in July found financial irregularities. In 2013 he was a nominee for bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but lost by a vote of 200-177. Source: WKOW, 8-16-18

A senior member of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate and 4 others were arrested on suspicion of bribery, fraudulence and breach of trust. The rabbinate certifies products as kosher. Eight others were detained but not arrested. Police announced that hundreds of thousands of shekels were found in suspects’ homes. A shekel is worth about 28 cents. Source: Haaretz, 8-13-18

Darryl Farrier, 38, Franklin, NJ: Child endangerment and possession of child pornography. Farrier, youth pastor at Freedom Church, allegedly met with a 15-year-old girl after using social media to meet her and have explicit chats with other underage girls. An affidavit alleged he possessed over 100 images depicting sexual exploitation and abuse of minors. Source: nj.com, 8-13-18

Siraj Wahhaj, 40, and 4 other adults who lived in a compound near Taos, NM, are charged with child abuse after Wahhaj’s 3-year-old son was found dead and 11 emaciated children were also discovered there. Wahhaj was wanted on a Georgia warrant for abducting his son, who suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, in November.

The boy’s body was washed, wrapped in sheets and buried at the compound, prosecutor John Lovelace said. It was believed he would return as Jesus in 4 months to reveal which of society’s institutions were corrupt and needed to be done away with, a witness said. After a 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, Wahhaj and the others performed rituals to “cast demonic spirits” out of his son’s body, another witness alleged.

Wahhaj’s father, an imam in Brooklyn, NY, testified as a character witness for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheikh” convicted in 1995 of plotting terror attacks in the U.S. Source: CBS, 8-13-18

Paolo Glaentzer, 70, Bagni di Lucca, Italy: Sexual molestation of a child. Glaentzer, a Catholic parish priest, is accused of molesting a girl who is 10 or 11 after allegedly being seen naked with her in July in a car parked at a market about 10 p.m.

In an interview with the newspaper Corriere Fiorentino, he said the encounter was “an exchange of affection” that got out of control, adding that the victim seemed “much more mature than she was,” adding, “I thought she was at least 15.” Italy’s age of consent is 16 when a person holds power over another such as a priest or teacher. Source: Newsweek, 8-10-18

Seth Welch and his wife, Tatiana Fusari, both 27, Cedar Springs, MI: Felony murder and 1st-degree child abuse for the August death of their daughter Mary Anne, 10 months, from malnutrition and dehydration. Fusari admitted “they failed to reach out for medical help with their daughter for fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in the medical services and religious reasons,” an affidavit said.

They have 2 other children, ages 4 and 2, and Fusari is pregnant. On Facebook, Welch called doctors “priesthoods of the medical cult” and wrote “The righteous shall live by faith. It’s God who is sovereign over disease and those sorts of things and, of course, ultimately deaths.”

The children weren’t vaccinated, which Welch opposed: “If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn’t we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?” Source: WOOD, 8-8-18

Robert R. Browning, 59, Jacksonville, FL: Lewd battery on a person between the ages of 12 and 16, transmission of material harmful to minors and lewd and lascivious molestation. The complaint alleges the girl performed oral sex on him as he touched her sexually inside Cedar Creek Baptist Church, which operates a school where Browning taught bible studies.

Investigators also found an image of male genitalia allegedly depicting Browning that was sent from a phone number associated with him. Source: Times-Union, 8-8-18

Orlando Martinez-Chavez, 47, Jersey City, NJ: Sexual assault, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child when he was pastor at Iglesia Pentecostal Lirio de los Valles. Martinez-Chavez was removed in June after he was accused of sending graphic images to a 32-year-old female congregant.

An alleged victim, now 15, told police Martinez-Chavez touched her genitals inside her pants in November 2012. Another girl from the church alleges she was 16 when the pastor fondled her breast 5 years ago. He’s also accused of threatening to tell authorities about family members’ undocumented status. Source: Jersey Journal, 8-8-18

Timothy L. Reddin, 67, Fayetteville, AR: Attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. Reddin, part-time pastor at Turner Street Baptist Church, is charged with messaging an undercover agent in July to have oral sex with someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy.

Reddin also taught classes at Ecclesia College, a Christian school, and was chaplain for the Singing Men of Arkansas choir. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison in 2000 after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. Source: AP, 8-7-18

David Myers, 52, Akron, OH: Felony importuning. Myers, a former teacher at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, is charged with starting an online chat in July with a person he thought was a 15-year-old boy but was actually an undercover officer. Four days later he showed up to have sex with the boy. Myers taught at the school from 1995 to 2012 before returning in 2014 as a part-time volunteer for the boys soccer team and theater program. Source: cleveland.com, 8-3-18

Scott E. Moore, 52, Beaverton, OR: 7 counts of aggravated theft. Moore, director of operations at Village Baptist Church until last March, is accused of stealing at least $70,000 starting in 2015. Source: The Oregonian, 8-3-18

Santo J. Alvarado, 30, Baton Rouge, LA: Indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery. Alvarado, music minister at an unidentified church, is accused of assaults on a teen girl from the church between Feb. 1, 2015, and Feb. 25. He faces similar charges in S. Carolina. Source WBRZ, 8-3-18

Aryeh Cohen, 44, St. Louis Park, MN: Soliciting a child or someone believed to be a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct. Cohen, rabbi and director of youth outreach at Minneapolis Community Kollel, allegedly responded in February to an ad placed by an undercover agent posing as a 16-year-old boy on the social networking app Grindr.

Cohen later sent the agent a photo of his genitalia and was arrested in an apartment complex where they were to meet, an affidavit said. Source: Pioneer Press, 8-2-18

Dustin R. Herrera, Medford, OR: 13 counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old and sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims in a sex crime. Herrera is accused of molesting 8 children from 2000-04 while youth pastor at Yucaipa Christian Church in Calimesa, CA. Source: Press-Enterprise, 7-31-18

Fernando Hernandez, 50, Brownwood, TX: Indecency with a child and continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children. Hernandez, founding pastor of It’s A Challenge Church, is accused of assaults on 2 underage girls in 2010 and 2016. The mother of a 7-year-old alleged she didn’t came forward until now because when others she knew had, “nothing was done.” Source: KTXS, 7-31-18

Charles N. Pelkey, 49, Avon, MN: 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct. Pelkey, Avon Community Church pastor, is accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a woman who had gone to him for marriage counseling in November 2017, which is illegal in Minnesota. Consent is not a defense. Another parishioner reported the alleged relationship to police. Source: KMSP, 7-30-18

Malo “Victor” Monteiro, 45, Colton, CA: Intent to commit rape, mayhem or sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts on a child and sexual penetration by force. Monteiro, youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church, is accused of multiple assaults on several juveniles between 1999 and 2017. Source: Press-Enterprise, 7-29-18

James C. Jones, 38, Cross Plains, TN: Sexual contact with a minor by an authority figure. Jones, youth pastor at an unidentified church, was charged with assaulting a girl following an investigation that started in September 2017. Source: WSMV, 7-27-18

Wilfredo A. Flores, 24, Oklahoma City: Rape. Flores, youth pastor at Iglesia Pentecostal Unida Hispana, is accused of assaulting a 13-year-old in her home in September 2017 after he brought her Chinese food and a flash drive she needed to finish a church project. The girl’s mother allegedly found Flores hiding in a closet with a blanket over him. Source: KFOR, 7-25-18

Pamela J. Alberts, 54, Whitney, TX: Theft. Alberts, treasurer for Ministerial Alliance Whitney, is suspected of stealing as much as $85,000 from the nonprofit since 2017. Source: KXXV, 7-25-18

Dhanajay Bhave, 51, Mangeshi, India: Outraging the modesty of a woman. Bhave, a Hindu priest at Shri Mangesh Temple, is accused of trying to kiss and hug a young Mumbai woman who attends medical school in the U.S. She was visiting the temple in June when the alleged incident occurred. Source: NDTV, 7-23-18

Pleaded / Convicted

Thomas Chantry, 47, Hales Corner, WI: Guilty by jury of 2 counts of aggravated assault causing physical injury. A mistrial was declared on 4 counts of child molestation after the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. When arrested in 2016, Chantry was pastor at Christ Reformed Baptist Church but the charges stemmed from Prescott, AZ, where he was pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church from 1995-2001.

Five alleged victims testified his “discipline” left bruises and marks and in one case turned into molestation. One man said that when he was 10 or 11 he would try to rub his buttocks to soothe himself after a spanking. “I wasn’t allowed to do it because he gave me the pain,” the man testified. “He said it was OK for him to do it since he delivered the punishment.” Then Chantry would rub his bottom for several minutes and eventually start fondling the boy’s genitals. Source: Verde News, 8-21-18

Reginald Flynn, Flint, MI: Pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery for spanking a 6-year-old student with a spatula in February at Foss Avenue Baptist Church, where he is pastor. The boy was a student at Eagles Nest Academy charter school, which Flynn founded and where the boy was allegedly having behavioral issues. He was also accused of grabbing the boy’s face and neck.

Flynn’s attorney claimed Flynn agreed to the plea deal because of potential litigation and because he didn’t want the child to have to testify. Source: mlive.com, 8-6-18

John T. Sweeney, 74, Lower Burrell, PA: Pleaded guilty to indecent assault in a plea bargain that dropped a charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Sweeney, a retired Catholic priest who served 7 different parishes from 1970-2008, admitted molesting a 10-year-old boy who attended St. Margaret Mary School in 1991-92.

According to the grand jury presentment, Sweeney forced the boy to perform oral sex on him in his parish office after he was sent there for being disruptive on a bus. Source: pennlive.com, 7-31-18

Jerry R. Newton, 54, Slidell, LA: Pleaded guilty to theft of $95,316 in Social Security disability benefits. Newton, pastor of Bogalusa Baptist Church since May 2007, didn’t disclose to the government that he had a paid position with the church and owned 2 businesses when he applied for benefits. Source: Times-Picayune, 7-26-18

Sentenced

Donald C. Biggs, 40, Medford, OR: 15 years 8 months in prison after pleading guilty to transporting with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Biggs, youth pastor at Mountain Christian Fellowship, admitted taking a 14-year-old girl to California in 2013 to record her in a bathroom during a church trip. Several other victims of secret recording later came forward.

At sentencing, 45-year-old Kevin Smith jumped the railing and started punching Biggs in the face. He’s the father of 2 of the victims. A GoFundMe page set up to cover Smith’s legal costs raised $15,000 toward a $5,000 goal in 6 days. Source: Mail Tribune, 8-24-18.

Christopher R. Gattis, 59, Chester, VA: 158 years in prison with all but 33 years suspended after pleading guilty to 3 counts of 1st-degree murder and felony use of a firearm in the Nov. 23 killings of his wife, Jeanett Gattis, 58, his stepdaughter, Candice Kunze, 30, and her boyfriend, Andrew Buthorn, 36. Gattis was youth ministry director for Grace Lutheran Church in Chester. Parole was abolished for felonies in Virginia in 1995.

Long-term family discord escalated over several days and reached a boiling point on Thanksgiving night, the prosecution said. Part of it was captured on a home surveillance camera. About 11:15, Gattis used a pistol to shoot all the victims, who were playing a board game in the kitchen. Source: Times-Dispatch, 8-15-18

John P. Aitchison, 67, Canberra, Australia: 9 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of 5 counts of rape and 8 counts of indecency involving a 13-year-old girl in the late 1980s. The woman testified that Aitchison first assaulted her after violin practice at the Anglican church where he was pastor.

She testified he told her during a rape to look into the corner and pray she would see her pet dog that had died, while he muttered “please God forgive me.” Two men also testified Aitchison molested them as youths. Source: Canberra Times, 8-13-18

Ignacio Villafan, 52, Tulare, CA: 5 years’ probation after pleading no contest to grand theft of personal property worth more than $200,000. Villafan, pastor of St. Rita’s Catholic Church from 2005-12, is believed to have stolen about $300,000.

District Attorney Tim Ward called the sentence too lenient: “To think that a person could steal such a large sum and not face incarceration undermines the justice that we in the District Attorney’s Office seek every day,” Ward said.

Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Diocese of Fresno asked the court to take a “restorative justice” approach because the diocese is short of priests and Villafan could eventually return to ministry but have no access to funds. Restitution will be decided at a later hearing. Source: Fresno Bee, 8-10-18

Wiraphon Sukphon, 39, Si Sa Ket, Thailand: 20 years in prison and $877,000 restitution for fraud, money laundering and violating the Computer Crimes Act. Sukphon, a Buddhist monk who headed Wat Pakhantitham Monastery from 2009-13, solicited donations for “the world’s largest Buddha statue” in jade and gold and for other projects but spent much of it to live lavishly, the court ruled.

He was extradited from California last year and faces charges for allegedly raping a girl under 15 over whom he had unofficial custody in 2000-01. Source: The Nation, 8-9-18

Civil Lawsuits Filed

Joseph Everly, pastor of The Quest, a Christian church in Novato, CA, for the past 15 years until resigning recently, is being sued by Kimberly Labozzetta, 34, a church employee who claims Everly manipulated her into a sexual relationship that led to an abortion. The church is a co-defendant.

When she got pregnant in February and told Everly her husband had had a vasectomy, he allegedly promised her they would get married after he left his wife and they could have children later. After the abortion, he ended the relationship and told the congregation about the affair, the suit alleges. Source: Independent Journal, 8-20-18

Five employees at Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell, NJ,  are defendants in a suit filed by Anthony Asatrian, now 18, who alleges sexual abuse, harassment and assault. He asserts his wrestling coach David Bell pursued him romantically starting when he was 15 and that assistant coach Dominick Spataro showed him and another wrestler pornographic photos on his phone.

Other defendants are Brother Brian Walsh (then-president of the school), Principal Timothy McElhinney and Jack McGovern, athletic director. The county prosecutor’s office has declined to bring criminal charges.

Asatrian let USA Today examine 94 text messages from Bell, sent from February 2016 to early 2018. The last one arrived just before he was kicked off the wrestling team. He’s since transferred to another school. Source: North Jersey Record, 8-16-18

Civil Lawsuits Settled

The Christian Brothers Catholic religious order settled a suit for $727,000 with an Australian man who said he’d have been happy with a simple apology for his sexual abuse. Paul Bradshaw, 74, Perth has terminal cancer. His alleged attackers — Brothers Lawrence Murphy, Bruno Doyle and Christopher Angus — are all dead. Bradshaw reported his abuse twice as a child and was instead called a liar and was sent to get psychiatric treatment.

Bradshaw’s lawyer, Michael Magazanik, said his firm is handling 60 claims against the Christian Brothers. Bradshaw is the first to claim damages for historical sex abuse under recent laws in Western Australia that removed the time limit for such cases. Source: ABC, 8-16-18

Finances

The Catholic Archdiocese of New York has paid about $4 million from its compensation program to 24 sexual abuse victims represented by attorney Michael Reck. Payments range from $25,000 to $500,000, Reck said. The latest payment went to an alleged victim in the 1980s of John T. Meehan, 81, a priest who was a guidance counselor at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx and was named a monsignor in 2006. Source: NY Post, 8-18-18

A Montana federal bankruptcy judge approved a $20 million settlement between the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and 86 survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

Catholic Mutual Insurance will pay $8 million, the diocese will pay $5 million, $4 million will come from individual parishes, $2 million will be paid by the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana and $1 million by St. Labre Indian School.

Most claims are from 1950-80. The names of 27 priests will be posted on the diocese’s website within 30 days and remain online for at least 10 years. Source: KBZK, 8-15-18

Legal Developments

Joseph H. Hart, 86, Cheyenne, WY, bishop emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, is being reinvestigated on sexual abuse allegations involving an underage male. A 2002 investigation by the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office found “no evidence” of abuse but the Cheyenne Police Department has new information and has asked any other potential victims to come forward.

Bishop Steven Biegler announced in July that the diocese had learned of “credible and substantiated” allegations that Hart had abused 2 boys. The diocese reported the alleged abuse to police in March, Biegler said in a statement. Source: Tribune Eagle, 8-23-18

Emiliano Arias, the prosecutor in charge of investigating the sexual abuse scandal in the Chilean Catholic Church said several bishops could face charges in the wake of scheduled interviews with Richardo Ezzati, cardinal archbishop of Santiago. Arias’ office is investigating 38 abuse accusations against 73 bishops, clerics and church lay workers involving 104 victims.

The office of Santiago Silva, bishop to the armed services, has been raided in a search for evidence. Silva is also president of the Chilean bishops’ conference.

Arias said officials seized documents related to complaints made over 20 years to Silva and his military predecessor, Bishop Juan Barros. Seven more court-authorized raids of senior church officials’ office have been carried out. Source: Channel News/Reuters, 8-18-18

Devin Caruthers, Raymore, MO, violated bond conditions with an appearance at Second Missionary Baptist Church when children were present, prosecutors said in a motion to revoke bail. Caruthers, church youth pastor, is charged with 2 counts of sodomy, attempted child molestation and domestic assault. He’s barred from contact with his alleged victims or any child under 17 except for his own.

It’s alleged that during 2 sleepovers at his home, he touched a boy’s genitals and told him he loved him. He’s also accused of sexually touching 2 girls. Source: WDAF, 8-7-18

Denis Nolan, 64, a defrocked Irish priest convicted last year of 6 counts of rape and sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy he’d hired to do yard work in 2005-06, had his appeal denied. It was based mainly on the trial court’s decision not to give the jury a corroboration warning due to inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony and complaint. The appeals court said the inconsistencies were minor and not out of the ordinary. Source: Irish Times, 7-31-18

Allegations

Carlo Maria Vigano, archbishop emeritus and Vatican ambassador to the U.S., said in a statement that Pope Francis should resign for his handling of sexual abuse allegations against Theodore McCarrick, a cardinal who resigned in July as archbishop of Washington due to claims he molested an altar boy in 1971-72 and later targeted adult seminarians.

Francis “must be the first to set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” Vigano said. “He knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator. . . . [A]lthough he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered him to the bitter end.”

Speaking to the press in Ireland, the pope responded: “I will not say a single word on this.” Source: CNN, 8-26-18

Edmundo Paredes, pastor for 27 years at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff, TX, before fleeing the U.S. after being removed in June 2017 for suspected financial irregularities, is now under investigation for molesting 3 teen boys in the parish between 10 and 20 years ago.

During the financial probe, in which $60,00 to $80,000 is involved, church officials received allegations of criminal sexual acts, which have been found to be credible, said Diocese of Dallas Bishop Edward Burns. The church is hiring private investigators to find Paredes, suspected of being in the Philippines. Source: Morning News, 8-19-18

James Mulcahy, 74, is accused in a victim’s compensation claim filed with the Diocese of Rochester, NY, of repeatedly molesting a boy in 1978 when he was 13 and Mulcahy was religious education coordinator at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Mt. Morris. The alleged abuse wasn’t reported to authorities until 1994 after the statute of limitations expired. Mulcahy now lives in Ukraine and works for Metropolitan Community Churches, where a reporter contacted him and was told the allegations lack substance.

Mulcahy’s file in the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office has an allegation of sexual abuse involving a 14-year-old boy for whom Mulcahy was a foster parent. Reporters found more abuse claims targeting boys as far back as 1978. Through it all, at various times, Mulcahy was a hospital chaplain, religion teacher, diocesan personnel department employee and pastor at Metropolitan Opens Arms Church in Rochester, where he retired in 2014. Source: WHAM, 8-15-18

William C. Graham and Roland Antus were found to be credibly accused of sexual abuse after the Diocese of Duluth, MN, investigated claims. Graham was accused of child abuse in the 1970s at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Duluth.

Antus was credibly accused of committing the same crime in the 1980s at St. James Catholic Church in Duluth. Graham is on administrative leave and Antus retired in 2008.

Graham sued his accuser in 2016 for making false claims. The suit is unresolved. The list of credibly accused priests in the diocese has 37 names. Source: News Tribune, 8-5-18

Gerald P. Sheehan, a New York Catholic priest who died in 2006, has been accused of molestation by a woman in her 40s who says she was between 7 and 14 years old and a member of Nativity of Our Lord Church in Orchard Park when she was assaulted about 200 times at her home, at the church rectory and at various cottages. Sheehan was listed as “On leave” in S. Buffalo in 1976, the time of the alleged abuse. Source: WKBW, 8-3-18

Leonard Kalin, a Nebraska Catholic priest who died in 2008, has been accused of sexual misconduct by Peter Mitchell, a priest who was laicized in 2017 for violating his vow of celibacy on multiple occasions. Kalin was vocations director for the Diocese of Lincoln and pastor of the University of Nebraska Newman Center from 1970 until the late 1990s.

Mitchell alleged Kalin regularly asked seminarians to help him shower because he was old and needed help and would then make sexual advances. He also invited them on trips to Las Vegas and would require them to meet with him late at night at the Newman Center.

Mitchell admitted his own violations of celibacy with women. “I am painfully aware, however, that the people to whom my seminary formation was entrusted modeled addictive behavior to me and an entire generation of young men who are now priests.” Source: Catholic News Agency, 8-3-18

Removed / Resigned

Frank Gomez, Bridgeport, CT, resigned as pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church rather than undergo “treatment and assessment” at a facility in Canada amid accusations that he texted children and gave them gifts without their parents’ knowledge.

The Diocese of Bridgeport told parishioners that Gomez, a native of Mexico ordained in 2009, texted children without their parents’ knowledge, offered them gifts and had physical contact that was not sexual but made people uncomfortable. “Serious boundary violations” but nothing “illegal or immoral,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano. Source: CT Post, 8-25-18

Javier Heredia, pastor of S. Carolina Catholic parishes in Lancaster and Great Falls, was placed on administrative leave after his arrest for inappropriate touching of a girl at a public wave pool, said a diocesan press release. Arrest details weren’t available. Source: The State, 8-24-18

Michael W. Matusak, Uniontown, PA, was removed by the Diocese of Greensburg as pastor of 5 Catholic parishes due to a credible allegation of child sexual abuse dating back almost 20 years. The accusation is new and isn’t part of the state grand jury report on child abuse in Pennsylvania. Source: WTAE, 8-22-18

Steven M. Fink, Baltimore, rabbi at Temple Oheb Shalom, was suspended by the Central Conference of American Rabbis for multiple violations of its Ethics Code.

The synagogue sent a letter last May to congregants that said it had suspended Fink with pay due to an allegation of sexual impropriety with a teen minor that occurred “a number of years ago.”

In January 2007, then-Cantor Lisa Levine left the temple abruptly and declined to say why. She again declined in May. Source: Baltimore Sun, 8-20-18

Henryk Pawelec, Pompano Beach, FL, resigned as pastor at St. Coleman Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Miami announced in a letter to parishioners. Archbishop Thomas Wenski alleged Pawelec stole over $236,000 for “his personal benefit” and said the archdiocese has reported the incident to the State Attorney’s Office. Source: Miami Herald, 8-19-18

Edward Jones was removed as pastor at Florida Catholic parishes in Crawfordville and Lanark due to a credible allegation of inappropriate contact with a minor female in 2004 when he served at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tallahassee. State Attorney Jack Campbell said his office is investigating. Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 8-16-18

Xuecheng (born Fu Ruilin), 51, resigned as head of the Buddhist Association of China and abbot of Longquan Monastery in Beijing. A 95-page report written by former monastery monks alleged he “sent suggestive messages to two female monks at Longquan Temple and made unwanted sexual advances toward at least four others,” reported the S. China Morning Post. “Other chapters outlined how he had overseen the illegal construction of several buildings at the monastery and embezzled funds.”

Xuecheng denied all allegations on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, where he has over a million followers. Source: NPR, 8-15-18

Jeff Jakes, senior pastor at Orangewood Church and Christian School in Maitland, FL, resigned after an independent investigation criticized the church’s handling of sexual harassment of a young female intern in 1998.

“Much has been said about events that happened 20 years ago and though I strongly disagree with many of the accusations made against me and the conclusions, my heart breaks for those who have been hurt at Orangewood and I pray for healing,” Jakes wrote in a resignation letter.

GRACE, a Christian group that investigates misconduct claims within religious institutions, said it spoke to 76 witnesses and surveyed more than 600 church members. Orangewood is Presbyterian-affiliated. Source: Orlando Sentinel, 8-13-18

Patrick Barvick, pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Davey, NE, was removed by the Diocese of Lincoln. Bishop James Conley said he told Barvick earlier that “he was not to be alone with females. His behavior concerns me and the Diocesan Review Board,” adding, “I have asked him to temporarily step aside from his parish while I evaluate this situation.”

Steve Thomlison resigned as pastor at St. Stephen in Exeter and St. Wenceslaus in Milligan after Conley met with him to “discuss a past incident in the military that was a concern” when he was a National Guard chaplain.

Conley also removed Charles Townsend as pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in S. Lincoln due to an “emotionally inappropriate, nonsexual relationship” with a 19-year-old man. Conley said the relationship involved alcohol and that Townsend was sent to the Shalom Center in Houston for treatment. Source: Fremont Tribune, 8-13-18

Steve Timm, Clearwater, MN, resigned as pastor of Rejoice Lutheran Church in July. Timm told a reporter: “Earlier this year, I was involved in a consensual affair with a woman at Rejoice.” He called the relationship “mutual and consensual” and said it was “not in the context of counseling.”

State law bars clergy members from having a sexual relationship with anyone they are counseling, regardless of consent. The behavior was also disclosed to the state National Guard, where he’s a member of the 47th Chaplain Detachment.

Timm, who is married with children, worked with the Guard’s Yellow Ribbon program that trains clergy on how to gain the trust of troops returning from deployment. Source: St. Cloud Times, 8-11-18

Heather Larson, S. Barrington, IL, lead pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, and the board of elders resigned after acknowledging the church mishandled allegations that megachurch founder Bill Hybels engaged in improper behavior with women, including his executive assistant, for decades. Hybels resigned in April and alleged victims are still coming forward.

Willow Creek has a $77 million budget and 350 employees spread among its 8 campuses. Source: Chicago Tribune, 8-10-18

Mark F. Plaushin, Philadelphia, a priest in residence at Our Mother of Consolation Catholic Parish, was removed from ministry after an allegation surfaced he molested a minor in 1985 before he was ordained. Plaushin, who is in his early 60s, was ordained as an Oblates of St. Francis de Sales priest in 1989. Source: Philly Voice, 8-10-18

Brett Moser, lead pastor at River City Church in Fargo, ND, was placed on leave after he and his wife, Shannon Moser, met with the board after she was arrested for having sex with a 16-year-old student. She teaches middle school science.

His photo and biography have been removed from the church’s website but there’s no public allegation of his involvement.

The student alleged he met the teacher in Rendezvous Park in June and that they had sex in the car along a gravel road. Another student, now 15, told police in July that Shannon Moser had shared explicit photos and videos on Snapchat starting when he was 14. Some of the videos show

ed the Mosers having sex, court documents stated. Source: News Tribune, 7-24-18

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