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

Black Collar Crime (October 2019)

Vol. 36 No. 08 October 2019
Fr. Erik Richtsteig’s Facebook post.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Kristopher Gorden, Fargo, ND: Disorderly conduct. Gorden, pastor at Olivet Lutheran Church, was arrested Aug. 9 at 6:45 a.m. at Izzy’s Lounge in Warroad, MN. Further details weren’t released. He has asked the Eastern North Dakota ELCA Synod to be placed on leave to be treated for alcohol addiction.

Gorden was Olivet Lutheran pastor in 2011 when he was convicted of DUI after his vehicle slid into a snowbank while entering a freeway on-ramp. Source: West Fargo Pioneer, 8-12-19

Conrad E. Valdez, 59: Las Cruces, TX: Sexual assault of a child. Valdez, pastor at Restoration Outreach Christian Church, allegedly assaulted a 15-year-old church member who had gone to him for counseling about a previous sexual assault. She told authorities it started with inappropriate touching and progressed to intercourse.

Valdez allegedly threatened to expose their relationship to her family if she ended it. Now 30, she said she decided to file a complaint after watching a documentary on abuse survivors. Source: Houston Chronicle, 8-10-19

Cesar Guerrero, 38, Sharonville, OH: 3 counts of sexual battery stemming from an August incident with a 17-year-old girl who belongs to Misión Cristiana El Calvario, the church where Guerrero is pastor and is considered a prophet. Federal pornography charges are pending. An affidavit said the native Guatemalan told the girl she “needed to be cleansed from being molested as a child.”

“He used bible scripture and prayer to cleanse her as she performed oral sex on him — ” a prosecutor told the judge at Guerrero’s arraignment. “That’s enough,” interrupted the judge. “If I may just finish my last sentence,” continued the prosecutor. “That’s enough!” the judge replied. Source: WKRC, 8-9-19

Shmuel Rennert, 65, Milwaukee: Harassment, false imprisonment and criminal restraint. Rennert, an Orthodox rabbi and father of 10 who has been associated with the Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study, was arrested in Lakewood, NJ, where he also has a home. He’s accused of refusing to let a woman out of his car after driving around for about an hour on July 31. He eventually dropped her off unharmed at her home, police said. Source: nj.com, 8-8-19

Cameron S. Giovanelli, 42, Orange Park, FL: Sexual abuse of a minor, perverted practice and 4th-degree sexual offense, alleged to have been committed in 2007 when he was Calvary Baptist Church pastor in Baltimore. His accuser, church member Sarah Jackson, says she was 16 when assaulted. She also babysat for his 3 children.

Giovanelli left Calvary Baptist in 2014 to become president of Golden State Baptist College in Santa Clara, CA. After Jackson posted on Facebook about her alleged abuse, he moved to Florida to become associate pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Source: Baltimore Sun, 8-7-19

Joseph Gates, 35, Sanibel, FL: Driving under the influence. Gates, pastor at St. Isabel Catholic Church, was arrested after nearly hitting a fire hydrant, a report said. He gave the officer his bank card instead of his driver’s license and later showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.185 despite claiming he’d only had a single drink. The report stated the church’s female business manager was a passenger. Source: Miami Herald, 8-5-19

JianGang “Frank” Lan, 34, Chapel Hill, NC: Felony use of a counterfeit trademark. Lan, associate pastor at Deer Park Community Church, was arrested after authorities acting on a tip from the federal Department of Homeland Security found 3,200 fake Cartier bracelets in the church.

The bracelets would have an estimated retail value of $24.4 million if they were authentic. It’s believed Lan planned to sell them online. Source: AP, 8-3-19

Stefano Segalini, Piacenza, Italy: Charges related to drugging and molesting young men while he was Catholic pastor at the church of San Giuseppe Operaio before abruptly retiring after being suspended in May. It’s alleged he abused victims who weren’t parish members during spiritual retreats and evening activities after plying them with alcohol and drugs. Source: Crux, 8-3-19

Paige Williams, 61, and Abby Leach, both of Hopkinsville, KY: 1st-degree complicity to criminal abuse of a child under 12 years of age. The women, respectively, are First United Methodist Church senior pastor and church day care director. Williams and Leach intentionally breached their legal duty to protect at least 7 children, all under 13 months old, the indictment said.

Day care employee Allison Simpson was indicted in April on counts of wanton endangerment and criminal abuse of a child under 12. It’s alleged she’s seen on video subjecting an 8-month old and a 10-month old to cruel care and confinement on Jan. 10. Source: WHVO, 8-3-19

Frederic S. Smith, 62, St. Augustine, FL: Simple battery. Smith’s Facebook page lists him as a minister and president of Servant’s Heart Disaster Relief, a nonprofit “evangelical hands-on ministry devoted to helping hurricane victims.” Hope of Christ Ministry is listed at the same address as the nonprofit.

Smith is accused of writing a gay slur on his restaurant waiter’s receipt, then ripping it up and stuffing it down the manager’s blouse, touching her breast, after she confronted him outside. He had written “if he wasn’t gay” with a zero-dollar tip. Source: Naples Daily News, 8-1-19

Henry Masten II, Richland County, SC: Failure to register as a sex offender. Masten, pastor at Bethlehem Grove Baptist Church in Clinton, was convicted in Ohio for gross sexual imposition in 2014. An investigation was launched in Clinton after church members voiced concerns. Source: WYFF, 8-1-19

Reginald Williams, 67, Bronx, NY: Grand larceny. Williams pastor of Charity Baptist Church of Christ and president of the Addicts Rehabilitation Center Foundation and its affiliate fund, is accused in a scheme that scammed the nonprofits out of about $631,000 meant to help HIV-positive drug addicts. Bennie Hadnott, 74, and Naomi Barrera, 42, are also charged.

Williams allegedly got kickbacks from Hadnott’s consulting group that he awarded a contract to between May 2010 and January 2015. Barrera allegedly played a shell game with proceeds from an affordable housing real estate sale.

Prosecutors said Williams also had a lucrative expense reimbursement hustle, alleging he expensed $100,000 on trips to the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and submitted $170,000 worth of dinners and bar tabs separately to both nonprofits. Source: NY Daily News, 7-31-19

Laverne P. Fox, 60, Erie, PA: 3 felony counts related to the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in 1991-92 when he was assistant pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, CA. The alleged victim told investigators Fox was transferred to an affiliate church in Indiana and the incident was never reported to law enforcement.

Detectives became aware of Fox’s alleged offenses while investigating sexual abuse of 3 teen girls by another Baptist youth pastor in Wildomar, Malo V. Monteiro, 46. He pleaded guilty last November and was sentenced to 64 months in prison. Source: Desert Sun, 7-31-19

Peter Romans, 59, Orient, OH: 4 counts each of aggravated murder and aggravated arson and 3 counts of murder. Romans is accused of setting the 2008 fire that killed his wife Billi, their son Caleb, a 12-year-old athlete at Grove City Christian School, and their daughter Ami, 16.

Billi Romans was receptionist at Grove City Christian. “The whole family was intimately involved at Grove City Nazarene Church,” the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The victims died when fire from the family SUV parked in the carport spread to the house. Peter Romans ran outside and later said the flames stopped him from reentering. He sued Ford, Texas Instruments and Bridgestone, claiming a faulty cruise-control switch caused the fire. Tests later showed the switch burned from the outside in and there was evidence that a “significant quantity” of accelerant had been poured inside the Ford Expedition.

Romans was indicted by a grand jury after authorities reopened the investigation. Source: Columbus Dispatch, 7-30-19

Bicente V. Morales, 43, Sarasoto, FL: Sexual battery of a victim under 12. Morales, pastor at House of Restoration Ministry, allegedly assaulted his 6-year-old niece on 3 occasions by digitally penetrating her. Morales stopped molesting her once because it was time to get ready for church, the girl alleged. Source: Herald-Tribune, 7-28-19

SM, 31, a native of Pakistan, and ALJ, 46, a Moroccan national, were arrested in Barcelona, Spain, on charges of molesting 2 children ages 9 and 12. The men, identified only by their initials, are imams at different mosques. According to the indictments, both alleged victims were enrolled to study the Quran when assaulted in 2017. Source: La Vanguardia, 7-28-19

La Wanpirun, 81, Wat Kho Hua Khao, Thailand: Rape of a minor under age 15. La, a Buddhist monk, is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 2001 after giving her 2 glasses of beer. She awoke with vaginal pain the next day, when La assured her he would take responsibility if she became pregnant, said police Col. Arun Warichasrisukanya.

The mother filed a complaint but police found La had already left the area. He claimed he didn’t know he was wanted on an arrest warrant. The statute of limitations was due to expire in 2 years. Source: Bangkok Post, 7-27-19

Charles Andrews, 66, Osprey, FL: 500 counts of possession of child pornography and 3 counts of failure to meet the registration requirements of a sex offender. Andrews, pastor at Osprey Church of Christ, was arrested after tips from online watchdogs allegedly showed 2 email accounts belonging to Andrews were used to download about 70 images of child pornography.

Andrews is a registered sex offender convicted in 2006 of sexual abuse in Alabama. Source: Herald-Tribune, 7-24-19

James R. Brown, Madison, MS: 22 counts related to alleged embezzlement of $332,000 from Broadmoor Baptist Church, where he was executive pastor from 2014-17, when an audit discovered irregularities. It’s alleged he used church checks for his mortgage payments to Bank of America and transferred church funds into his personal bank account. Source: WLBT, 7-24-19

Howard W. Geck, 62, Huntingburg, IN: Failure to make a report. Geck, pastor at Jasper Apostolic Church, allegedly didn’t report incidents of sexual abuse that occurred from 2012-15 at the church or at Jasper Christian Academy despite learning of them about 2 years ago. An investigation led to the arrest of Dexter Hensley on May 21, 2019. The alleged victims were between 5 and 9 years old at the time of the incidents. Source: Free Press, 7-17-19

Pleaded / Convicted

Urbano Vazquez, 47, Washington, DC: Guilty by jury of 3 counts of 2nd-degree child sexual assault and 1 count of misdemeanor sex abuse of a child. Vazquez, pastor at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, was charged with touching a girl’s breasts twice inside her shirt in the church in 2015 when she was 13 and with abusing a 9-year-old girl for about a year until she was 10 in 2016.

Vazquez, ordained as a Capuchin Franciscan priest in 2014, declined a plea deal offered in March for an 11-year sentence and now faces 45 years. He’s separately charged with groping an adult woman during confession. Two other minors and an adult accused him of similar crimes but the statute of limitations barred charges. Source: NBC4, 8-14-19

Christopher Rossman, 46, Baldwin City, KS: Pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Rossman, pastor of Catholic parishes in Baldwin City and Lapeer, admitted having child porn on his Samsung Galaxy tablet in September 2016, when the investigation started.

Authorities discovered Rossman’s sister tried to run over the tablet several times but a forensic exam still located files depicting prepubescent girls engaging in sexual activities, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said. Source: Kansas City Star, 7-26-19

Sentenced

Michael Cameron Sr., Des Moines, IA: 1 day of jail time (already served) and a $65 fine after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. Charges of domestic abuse, intimidation with a deadly weapon and child endangerment were dismissed.

Cameron, pastor at Revival Center Church of God in Christ, was accused of shooting at his daughter’s car with 2 children inside while he was following her. He denied pulling the trigger. Source: KCCI, 8-14-19

Paul R. Dorr, 63, Ocheyedan, IA: $125 fine on a misdemeanor criminal mischief conviction for publicly burning 4 LGBTQ-themed books he had checked out from the Orange City Public Library. Dorr, director of a Christian group called Rescue the Perishing, burned the books in a barrel live on Facebook in October 2018.

Dorr claimed he was singled out for prosecution because of his anti-gay message. A judge rejected that argument, saying the only message being sent was that “he cannot burn books that do not belong to him.” Source: Des Moines Register, 8-9-19

Andre Thorpe, 36, Roxboro, NC: Up to 40 years in prison and lifetime probation after pleading guilty to 1 count each of possessing and making pornography. Thorpe was affiliated with several churches in the area and with the Boys and Girls Club of Durham.

Thorpe was accused of driving a 13-year-old boy, now 19, across state lines to carry on a sexual relationship and having his name tattooed on the victim. He’s been identified as a suspect in other underage child sex cases yet to be adjudicated. Source: WRAL, 8-6-19

Michael Higginbottom, 76, Newcastle, UK: 9 years in prison and 9 years’ home detention after jurors found him guilty of 5 counts of buggery and 7 counts of indecent assault of 2 boys at a Catholic school in Lancashire in the 1970s and 1980s. Judge Andrew Woolman said the priest’s abuse was “accompanied, time after time, by threats or actual violence under the guise of a normal school punishment.” Source: BBC, 7-30-19

Paul J. Brothers, 40, Waynesville, OH: 10 years’ probation after pleading guilty to 2 counts of felony sexual battery on a minor. Brothers was staying at the female victim’s home while preaching at North Mt. Zion Church of God in Hiawassee, GA. He admitted touching her breasts and vaginal area. Rape, statutory rape and other molestation charges were dropped in a plea agreement.

Prosecutor Jeff Langley said a plea deal was the best he could do after repeated case delays. But because Brothers got credit for the nearly 6 years he’s been under house arrest in Ohio, the probation will last only 4 years. “The jury sees a 21-year-old woman, not that 14-year-old victim,” Langley said. “We were relying on witnesses remembering something that happened in 2012.”

Brothers’ lawyer was state House Speaker David Ralston. At the time, state law let lawyers serving in the legislature delay court proceedings by claiming they had state-level duties to tend to. Ralston has delayed 226 cases 966 times since 2010. The law allowing that has since been amended.

The victim’s mother, Laurie Wilson, said Brothers got “a slap on the wrist” but agreed to the plea deal because of her daughter’s medical issues. She has a congenital heart defect, suffers seizures and needs oxygen. Source: AP/Journal-Constitution, 7-20-19

Christopher C. Stutts, 37, Birmingham, AL: 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing a child younger than 12. Four other charges, including rape and sodomy, were dismissed in a plea deal. Stutts, a part-time youth and worship leader at Westwood Baptist Church, was arrested in February 2018 after a 14-year-old girl told investigators he had assaulted her over the past 3 years. Source: Tuscaloosa News, 7-18-19

Civil Lawsuits Filed

Over 100 lawsuits were filed Aug. 14 in New York state on the first day the Child Victims Act went into effect. The majority of defendants are listed as Catholic dioceses but at least 3 suits name the Boy Scouts of America.

One plaintiff, now 65, alleges she was raped by an older boy while nuns watched and was repeatedly abused sexually by nuns and other staff at the Mt. Loretto Mission on Staten Island, where she lived for 5 years in the 1960s. Several other suits allege similar abuse at the shelter.

Abuse survivors up to age 55 now have 12 months to sue. Criminal charges can now be filed until victims turn 28 for felonies and age 25 for misdemeanors. “I think there will be thousands of suits filed statewide,” said state Supreme Court Judge Paula Feroleto. Statewide, 45 judges have been assigned to hear these cases. Source: NY Post, 8-14-19

William Weaver, Linden Presbyterian Church (Linden, NJ), Presbyterian Church USA and Elizabeth Presbytery are being sued by “D.L.,” who alleges Weaver sexually assaulted him after he went to him in 2001 or 2002 for pastoral counseling. Weaver, 69, was the officiant at D.L.’s wedding in 2000.

D.L. alleges he told Weaver in 2005 that he’d been sexually abused as a child by his brother and beaten by his father and that “his wife had recently shared with him that she has had and may still have been having an inappropriate sexual relationship with her father.”

It’s alleged Weaver told D.L. he was under spiritual attack that had something to do with his penis, and at the next session he reached around D.L.’s back to cup his genitals, asking “How does that feel?” D.L. was “shaken” by the incident.

Three other men and a woman previously filed similar “sexorcism” suits against Weaver. Source: Courier News, 8-1-19

The Diocese of Belleville, IL, is being sued by “John Doe,” alleging he was molested as a child from 1987-89 by Catholic priest Joseph Schwaegel, who died in 2016. Schwaegel was arrested for sexual misconduct with an adult in 1987 and received probation while he was in charge of St. Peter Cathedral Parish and its grade school in Belleville, the suit states.

He was arrested again in 1994 for requesting sex from an undercover police officer at a highway rest stop. He was removed from ministry in 1994 and admitted publicly he was a “sex addict” while denying any inappropriate sexual behavior with minors. Source: News-Democrat, 7-29-19

The Village Church of Flower Mound, TX, is being sued by “Jane Doe,” who alleges she was “sexually violated” in 2012 at age 11 by church employee Matthew Tonne at a summer camp. Tonne was arrested Jan. 9 on charges of indecency with a child stemming from the incident and is awaiting trial.

The church, which has 5 campuses and 10,000 members in the Dallas area, is being sued for gross negligence. It’s alleged pastor Matt Chandler misled members by telling them an unidentified culprit didn’t have access to children and was leaving the church because of an alcohol problem. Tonne even got a severance package.

Doe’s parents allege their “energetic, funny, caring child” became “withdrawn and angry” and developed an eating disorder after the incident but before she told them what had happened at camp. It was only in early 2018 when she told them that they were able to piece everything together. Source: NY Times, 7-26-19

The Episcopal Diocese and Grace St. Paul’s Church of Tucson, AZ, are defendants in a suit filed by Charles Taylor, who alleges he was repeatedly molested by now-deceased priest Richard Babcock in the 1970s, starting when he was 12. It’s alleged the diocese knew Babcock was abusing children and covered it up by “reassigning him to other churches.”

Taylor tried to sue in 1991 but was barred by the statute of limitations. But in May a new state law went into effect that lets victims sue until they’re 30 and allows anyone to file until Dec. 31, 2020, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Source: Episcopal News Service, 7-25-19

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is being sued by Patricia Harner, a Florida resident who alleges she was molested by Paul J. Kowalewski, 71, when he was preparing in the 1970s to be a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Buffalo, NY. She alleges the California diocese let Kowalewski stay in active ministry despite being aware of accusations against him.

Attorney Jeff Anderson represents another woman alleging sex abuse by Kowalewski in the town of Tonawanda when she was 16. A suit in New York is pending. He is currently a pastor at the Church of St. Paul in the Desert in Palm Springs, CA, and has been an Episcopal priest since 1990. Source: Buffalo News, 7-23-19

The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, TN, is being sued by Michael Boyd, who alleges he was sexually assaulted by now-deceased priest Xavier Mankel in the 1990s and at least twice by former Bishop Anthony O’Connell, who died in 2012. O’Connell resigned in 2002 after admitting inappropriate conduct with minors in Missouri before he was in Knoxville.

The suit also contends William Lovelace, a Sacred Heart Cathedral music teacher, tried to get Boyd to “touch him inappropriately” during a guitar lesson. The diocese suspended Lovelace after the suit was filed. Source: News Sentinel, 7-22-19

St. Joseph Catholic Parish, O’Hara, PA, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh are defendants in a suit filed by “D.A.L.,” who alleges he was molested as a 6th and 7th grader between 1975-77 by an unidentified teacher at the parish school.

It’s alleged the teacher would lean over the boy sitting at his desk, kiss the top of his head and touch his genitals and that there were other victims. A walkout after students went to the principal — a nun who ignored their allegations — ended the abuse but the teacher kept his job, the suit claims. Source: Tribune-Review, 7-22-19

Civil Lawsuits Settled

The Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, OR, agreed to settle 8 claims of sexual abuse involving former North Bend priest Pius Brazauskas for nearly $4 million. The alleged abuse took place from about 1975-85 and involved mostly altar boys who were between 5 and 16. Brazauskas died in 1990 at age 84. He came to the U.S. from Lithuania in 1949. Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting, 8-2-19

Finances

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has received formal notice from over 400 people who have either filed or may file claims for compensation for alleged sexual abuse by clergy. The diocese has so far paid about $4 million to 26 victims, or roughly $150,000 per person, said administrators Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which was launched after a 2018 grand jury report on sexual abuse by priests in the diocese during the past 7 decades.

State Attorney General Attorney General Josh Shapiro objected in court filings to Bishop David Zubik’s plan to tap a trust fund set up in 1989 to compensate survivors. The donor left the money to start a home for orphans and troubled boys. The fund now exceeds $8 million and the facility is closed.

The donor “would never have intended his charitable gift to be used for this purpose,” Shapiro’s office asserted in court papers. The diocese estimates abuse claim liability will top $10 million. Source: Post-Gazette/KDKA, 8-1-19

The Catholic Diocese of Scranton, PA, awarded 85-year-old “Jane Doe” a 6-figure settlement (at least $100,000) for being molested in 1940 by Martin J. Fleming, pastor at Holy Name Parish in Sawyerville when she was 6. Fleming died in 1950. The announcement came on the last day that clergy abuse victims could register for the diocese’s new compensation program, which has already paid about $7 million to 44 survivors.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said 1,862 calls were made to his office’s hotline in the 12 months since a grand jury report exposed decades of abuse within Catholic dioceses. While not limited to abuse by Catholic clergy, about 90% of the calls involved Catholic clergy or institutions.

A review of all grand jury and media reports, diocesan and religious order disclosures and lists maintained by BishopAccountability.org shows 592 publicly accused clergy and laypersons in Pennsylvania. Source: NBC/Tribune-Review, 7-31-19

New Jersey’s 5 Catholic dioceses have made their first settlement offers to people alleging abuse by clergy. “The program is up and running and going well with 44 claims received as of today,” said co-administrator Camille Biros. “Three claim determinations have been made and three settlement offers have been sent to claimants.”

Claimants named 20 priests, including 12 who have never before been identified as alleged abusers. A similar fund in New York offered maximum payouts of $500,000 each to abuse survivors. Source: nj.com, 7-25-19

Legal Developments

Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, 70, should be charged with bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust, says a recommendation from the Israel Police, the nation’s civilian police force. Litzman, who heads the United Torah Judaism Party and serves as deputy health minister, is accused of pressuring a psychiatrist to testify that Malka Leifer was mentally unfit to stand trial for molesting girls at an Australian ultra-Orthodox school where she was headmistress from 2003 to 2008, when she fled to Israel.

Because of the psychiatrist’s opinion, Leifer, now 53, was not called to testify. A new assessment in 2018 determined she was faking her mental status. She remains in custody awaiting extradition.

The bribery allegation stems from the closing of a food business the health ministry determined had serious sanitation violations. Litzman is accused of offering benefits to employees in exchange for preventing the restaurant and catering service from being closed. Source: JTA, 8-6-19

Illinois sexual predators will be subject Jan. 1 to a new law signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker that lifts the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The law states prosecution “may be commenced at any time” instead of within 10 years of commission of the offense.

Illinois is the 8th U.S. state to eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Source: AP, 7-26-19

Dale G. Terry, Des Moines, IA, a volunteer pastor at Faith Baptist Church, was ordered by a judge to pay $51,875 in restitution for violating consumer fraud and door-to-door sales laws. Terry, who received state money to make improvements and repair flood damage for low-income homeowners, spoke often of his position as a pastor when contacting potential customers, said Ben Bellus, an assistant attorney general.

Court records show Terry has previous criminal convictions, including for felony theft, false reporting to law enforcement, assault, trespassing, criminal mischief and contempt. Source: Des Moines Register, 7-25-19

Naasón J. García, 50, a Mexican national who heads a worldwide Pentecostal church called La Luz del Mundo, was denied bail on 26 charges, including human trafficking, rape of a minor and production of images of child sex abuse. Three church-affiliated women — Alondra Ocampo, Susana Medina Oaxaca and Azalea Rangel Melendez — were also charged with coercing underage girls into performing sex acts between June 2015 and August 2017. 

“This is a man who preyed on young girls,” said Superior Court Judge David Fields. “Religion was used against these girls. They were told that if they didn’t comply, they were sinning.”

Forensic examiner Steven Stover testified that videos showed García in a threesome with a woman and an underage male and females “of a very young age” performing sexual acts.

In a statement, church leaders said “the legal team representing the Apostle of Jesus Christ Naasón Joaquín García will appeal this decision in hopes to revise and modify this ruling.” Source: Christian Post, 7-18-19

Over 150 cases of sexual abuse or cover-up involving the Chilean Catholic Church are being investigated by Chile’s Public Ministry and President Sebastián Piñera has signed into law a bill to remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children.

The law ends impunity in cases that previously barred prosecution after 5 or 10 years depending on the nature of the crime. The new law is not retroactive. Source: Reuters, 7-11-19

Allegations

Calvary Gospel Church in Madison, WI, “has concealed allegations of sexual assault among its congregants for over 30 years, and continues to perpetuate a culture of fear and control that fosters abuse, former members say,” according to a news story in the Capital Times. Four women told the newspaper they were molested as children from the 1980s through about 2005 by adult members of the Pentecostal church, while 9 others, including a pastor, corroborated allegations by the women, all of whom agreed to be identified by name.

Their alleged perpetrators were men in their 20s and 30s and the alleged victims were all under 18 and as young as 11. The paper didn’t name the alleged perpetrators because they haven’t been charged.

The church was led by John W. Grant from 1968 to 2015, when he named himself bishop. His son, Roy Grant, became co-pastor in 2013 and now serves as senior pastor. The women said they told the Grants about their assaults but there were no repercussions for the alleged perpetrators while the women were “slut-shamed,” sometimes publicly.

The church has about 1,000 members served by 6 pastors. It operates a full-time child care center and ran Calvary Christian Academy until it closed in 2008. Source: Capital Times, 8-7-19

Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS), a conservative nonprofit operating out of unmarked buildings in Dryden, MI, has for nearly 2 decades provided “money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse,” according to an Associated Press investigation. Some “powerful clerics” who have publicly pledged to hold the church accountable have surreptitiously arranged meetings, offered blessings and sent checks to OBS, the AP found.

Two of its founders, Joe Maher and Peter Ferrara, were forced out recently after Michigan’s attorney general found OBS had misused funds and misled contributors. A third co-founder, Eduard Perrone, was removed from ministry in August after the AP began asking about an allegation he sexually abused a child decades ago. The group claims that priests and the church itself are neglected victims. Source: AP, 7-29-19

The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis released the names of 61 clergy members with substantiated abuse allegations dating back 70 years, as well as 3 priests found to have possessed child pornography. At least 34 are dead and none are in active ministry.

Critics blasted the list compiled by the archdiocese for not including details about allegations and for the disparity in numbers. Records from a 2014 lawsuit showed credible complaints made against 115 priests. Source: Post-Dispatch, 7-26-19

Utah Mormon Church leaders did nothing to alert authorities about crimes Benjamin Alyk at least twice in 2017 told multiple church officials he committed when he was 14 to 17. Alyk, 20, served as a missionary in the Dominican Republic.

Alyk surrendered to authorities in 2018 and pleaded guilty to recording children as young as 4 in his mother’s bathroom and sharing the images online. She operated a home day care but closed it in February 2017, 2 months after Alyk returned from his mission to live there and a full year before he turned himself in.

Utah clergy aren’t legally required to report abuse if it’s made public through confession of a perpetrator. State Rep. Angela Romero announced plans for a bill to do away with the exemption. Source: NY Post, 7-25-19

Oscar Diaz, Santa Rosa, CA, was suspended as pastor at Resurrection Catholic Parish after EMTs responding to a June accident found bags containing stolen parish collections totaling over $18,000 inside his vehicle. Diocese of Santa Rosa officials then discovered another $77,000 was missing from parishes where Diaz previously served.

Bishop Robert Vasa asked police to investigate but they determined that “protocols surrounding collection accounting would make it difficult to arrive at sufficient proof of theft to pursue criminal prosecution,” said Vasa’s statement. He called Diaz’s future with the church “uncertain.” Source: Mercury News, 7-22-19

Removed / Resigned

Zalman Heber, Tacoma, WA, resigned as rabbi of Chabad of Pierce County after 2 women accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact. Traci Moran, whose husband is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said she first complained to Army Capt. Michael Harari, her husband’s unit chaplain, in 2018.

An Army probe found that Harari violated Moran’s confidence by sharing her allegations with Heber and that the men worked together to “harass and attempt to intimidate and ostracize the Morans” from civilian communities around the base.

Chabad member Kim Shomer, who first met Heber in 2007 at her son’s circumcision, alleged a similar pattern of harassment after starting weekly Kabbalah study sessions with him in March 2015. Source: JTA/Seattle Times, 8-11-19

Other

Social media posts by Erik Richtsteig (see graphic), pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Ogden, UT, led over 150 parents to sign a petition to block his transfer to St. Ambrose Parish and its K-8 school in Salt Lake City. Richtsteig has come under fire for posts seen as bigoted and misogynistic. He’s also posed with an assault rifle.

He wrote in a May Facebook post, “I hate June approaching. Looks like a gnome vomited in my newsfeed.” June Is Pride Month. He pledged not to accept friend requests from people using a rainbow filter with their photo and shared a meme suggesting a black U.S. senator who has advocated for reparations should perform oral sex on a man.

Richtsteig would be replacing Andrzej Skrzypiec as St. Ambrose pastor. Skrzypiec, who pleaded no contest in 2018 to offering a female undercover officer $30 for oral sex, was moved to St. Olaf Catholic School in Bountiful. Source: Salt Lake Tribune, 8-1-19

Email: [email protected]