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

Black Collar crime (May 2020)

Vol. 37 No. 04 May 2020
Cartoon by Steve Benson                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

African authorities have arrested several Christian pastors and even some congregants for defying bans on large gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Typically, they were released after being warned. In Uganda, arrests were made at God Is Able Church, Kampala Catholic Archdiocese, Christian Witness Church and Blessed Feelings Church International.

In Ghana, arrests were made at Open Arms Ministry, Kingdom of God Church and at a prayer camp in the village of Pokrom. Nigerian police arrested 3 pastors. The Christian Association of Nigeria reportedly had called on churches to hold Sunday services as planned to help raise awareness of the pandemic. Source: Christian Post, 3-26-20

An unidentified Orthodox rabbi and 3 members of Ajdut Israel synagogue in Buenos Aires were arrested for operating a mikvah (ritual bath) after Argentina ordered all synagogues closed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Source: JTA, 3-25-20

Metropolitan Seraphim, Kythira, Greece, was arrested for contravening a ban on large gatherings by calling on Greek Orthodox congregants on the island to come to church. Metropolitans are the equivalent of bishops.

Mayor Stratos Charchalakis said such a service “completely violates the government’s mandates regarding church and religious gatherings” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Source: Orthodox Christianity, 3-23-20

Fabiano N. Dakai, 58, Fiji: Disobedience of lawful order. Dakai, a Catholic priest, was arrested for offering Mass on the island of Ovalau, which resulted in over 20 people gathering despite efforts to contain the coronavirus. Source: Fiji Sun, 3-23-20

Isidor P. Archibeque, 44, Salt Lake City: Rape, forcible sodomy, object rape and 2 counts each of aggravated sexual assault and forcible sexual abuse. It’s alleged Archibeque, pastor at an unidentified church, “systematically raped” a girl in his congregation from late 2014 to July 2017, starting when she was 14.

The girl’s family “confirmed that there were many incidents where Archibeque had access to [her] by picking her up at school and through church activities,” the arrest warrant said. Source: Deseret News, 3-18-20

Tumelo Mukheti, 29, Soweto, South Africa: Fraud. “It is alleged that [Pastor Mukheti] lured his church members in Kliptown to invest a non-refundable R1500 each into his investment scheme, which is known as Yahwe, between the year 2017 and 2018. He has an agreement with them that they would be receiving a 14% profit,” police said in a statement. The total is estimated at 2 million rand, equal to about $117,000. Source: Eyewitness News, 3-18-20

Scott Asalone, 63, Asbury Park, NJ: Carnal knowledge of a minor. At the time of the alleged abuse in 1985, Asalone was pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, VA.

He engaged in sexual relations “without the use of force” with a minor aged 13 or 14, the indictment said. He was removed from public ministry in 1993 and was dismissed from the Capuchin Friars in 2007.

After Asalone’s arrest was announced, David Grosso, a councilman in Washington, D.C., announced in a statement, “The minor he assaulted was me. … This occurred during a very difficult time of my life. Since then, I have been working through the negative impact of this abuse on my life. With the loving support of my wife Serra and my family, I am proud of the progress I have made,” Grosso wrote. Source: WTOP, 3-16-20

Jonathan A. Weaver, 56, Pennsylvania: 2 counts of 1st-degree assault and battery. Charges in South Carolina involve an alleged 2001 incident when Weaver was pastor at Hyde Park Baptist Church in New York and took students to Bob Jones University in Greenville. He is a 1986 Bob Jones graduate.

Shielagh Clark filed reports with Hyde Park police and university officials in 2005 that the abuse started when she was 15 and she became pregnant. She alleges she was instead asked to withdraw from Bob Jones for lying about where she was when she used overnight passes.

The arrest warrant states Clark was afraid to report the allegations in 2001 because Weaver was her pastor. Source: Greenville News, 3-14-20

James Burrus, 63, Staten Island, NY: Murder. Burrus, bishop of By Divine Purpose Christian Center, is charged with the 1980 strangling death of Lorraine Snell, a 19-year-old legal secretary. The former husband of Snell’s cousin, Burruss was seen leaving a party with her and was initially a suspect but wasn’t arrested until improved DNA technology recently linked fingernail scrapings from Snell to him.

Burruss told a reporter in 2014 he “got into Christ in the prison and now it’s my life.” He was serving time for robbing a taxi stand the same night Snell was murdered and was released in 1985. Pearl Snell-Holder, the victim’s mother, asked NYPD detectives in 2015 to take a fresh look at the case. Source: NY Daily News, 3-12-20

Ronnie Nelson Jr., 33, Toledo, OH: Aggravated murder. Nelson, executive pastor at Greater New Psalmist Church, is accused in the March death of his 6-month-old niece Ava Pope. It’s alleged he shook the infant, who died of “abusive head trauma,” while he was babysitting her. Source: Toledo Blade, 3-12-20

Scott E. Nedberg, 68, Warren, IN: Felony theft. Nedberg, pastor at Warren United Church of Christ, allegedly swindled a woman, telling her “he could have charges for her son dismissed or receive a reduced sentence for a sum of $8,000.”

Police had the woman drop off $2,000 to Nedberg at his church while she was wearing a recording device and listened as they talked about the remaining $6,000. Nedberg told police he devised the scheme because he was in “so much debt that he is about to lose everything,” an affidavit said. Source: WANE, 3-10-20

Clayton Turner, 40, San Antonio: Aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. Deputies believe he had access to children at several places of worship through his work as a youth pastor. Turner listed The Message and Guadalupe Seminary as places where he served.

The 12-year-old girl alleged the assaults occurred over the past couple of years. Source: KSAT, 3-8-20

Toddrick D. Johnson, 36, Alvin, TX: Theft and using deception to secure an executive document. Johnson, pastor at Paradise Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, allegedly stole just over $200,000 from his congregation.

Johnson filed for bankruptcy in February. He also allegedly “obtained loans and filed false insurance claims” as part of the scheme. Source: Houston Chronicle, 3-8-20

Brad Isakson, 38, Clearfield, UT: Enticing a minor by internet or text, dealing in materials harmful to a minor, 4 counts of forcible sodomy and 2 counts of forcible sexual abuse.

Assistant Police Chief Devin Rogers said Isakson had a leadership position over the boy, now 14, about 2 years ago in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rogers said Isakson no longer held that position during the time of the alleged offenses over a 5-week period starting in November 2019.

Isakson’s wife filed for divorce in February. Source: Standard-Examiner, 3-6-20

Jeffrey D. Lang, 46, and Kimberley E. Lang, 48, Glendale, OH: Theft of over $50,000. Lang, who resigned abruptly in 2018 as pastor at West Sunbury Presbyterian in Pennsylvania, allegedly received over $33,000 in unauthorized salary compensation and nearly $20,000 from other misappropriated funds.

The couple are accused of using the church bank account in 2017­–18 “for their family’s own personal benefit and not the benefit of the church,” investigators said. They and their children, Paisley, Pelham and Phoebe, moved to Ohio in 2018. Source: Butler Eagle, 3-5-20

Matthew D. Johnson, 30, Loma Linda, CA: Possession of child pornography. Johnson, a counselor at La Sierra Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Riverside, is charged with secretly recording boys in a school bathroom and with possessing over 600 pornographic images and videos, many depicting prepubescent boys. Source: San Bernardino Sun, 3-5-20

Hayden Hunter, 19, Pleasant Grove, UT: Suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography. Hunter was arrested in Fremont, CA, where he was working as a Mormon missionary. Police said he used an alias and asked people to come forward if they had interacted with the email address [email protected] Source: Desert News, 3-5-20

Melanie L. Kummerer, 54, Leesport, PA: Theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and security execution of documents by deception. Kummerer, treasurer at Calvary Lutheran Church from 2009–19, is charged with stealing over $390,000 from the church. Source: Reading Eagle, 3-4-20

Eliezer Berland, 82, Jerusalem: Exploitation and aggravated fraudulent receipt. Berland, a rabbi and convicted sex offender, was indicted for fleecing millions of shekels from people by promising miracle medical cures, freeing the imprisoned and finding missing persons. The indictment cites 16 alleged incidents.

Berland commands a cult-like following among the thousands of members of his group, an offshoot of the Bratslav Hasidic sect. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2016 on 3 counts of indecent acts and assault, as part of a plea deal that included 7 months of time served. He was freed 5 months later, in part due to ill health. Source: Times of Israel, 3-1-20

Victor S. Couzens, 43, West Chester, OH: Misdemeanor telecommunication harassment. Couzens, who leads Inspirational Baptist Church, a Cincinnati megachurch, allegedly engaged in “revenge porn” involving his failed relationship with New York model Andrea Garrison, 31.

It’s alleged he threatened her over the phone, tried to extort her and recorded a sex tape without her knowledge and distributed it. Couzens’ church building was foreclosed on in February, owing $4.6 million. Source: Fox Cincinnati, 2-28-20

Jacob M. Malone, 37, a youth pastor imprisoned in 2017 for sexual assault of a teen girl in Reading, PA, is charged with attempted murder, criminal solicitation, attempted aggravated assault and making terroristic threats.

Malone allegedly offered his former cellmate $5,000 to kill Calvary Fellowship Church Pastor Harold Wiggins, who reported him to police, and Judge Jacqueline Carroll Cody, who sentenced him. Source: Reading Eagle, 2-26-20

Thomas Stacy Jr., 46, and Jennifer Stacy, 43, Martin, KY: Thomas Stacy, pastor of Goble Roberts Community Free Will Baptist Church, is charged with criminal and sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child by being a person in a position of authority or special trust. His wife is charged with misdemeanor assault and 4 counts of criminal abuse.

It’s alleged the couple abused or permitted the abuse of 5 children in their care from 2008 until January 2020. The criminal abuse charges allegedly occurred to children adopted by the Stacys. Source: WKYT, 2-26-20

Dionne Van Zyl, Atlanta: Van Zyl, an unregistered investment adviser, is accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of using his position as an ordained elder to swindle congregants at a suburban church out of over $23 million from 2013–19. A native South African, he also heads a nonprofit to equip leaders and pastors for the work of the ministry.

While clients lost most of their investments as a result of his trading activities, Van Zyl collected nearly $3 million in undisclosed fees, commissions and other compensation, it’s alleged. Source: sec.gov, 2-26-20

Randolph Brown, 64, Maple Heights, OH: 2 counts of compelling prostitution of a minor. Brown, pastor at Inner-City Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, is charged with having sex with 2 minor girls who were being trafficked by another person.

The indictment accuses of him of paying for sex from the girls, who were runaways ages 16 and 13 in 2018. Source: cleveland.com, 2-25-20

Pleaded / Convicted

Curtis R. Brown, 55, Albuquerque, NM: Pleaded guilty to criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13. He resigned as pastor at Grace Baptist Church when allegations came to light that he molested his 5-year-old grandson in August 2019. He had been a pastor there for 18 years. Source: KRQE, 3-12-20

Kirbyjon Caldwell, 66, Houston: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with his alleged role in a multimillion-dollar investment scheme. His co-defendant, Gregory A. Smith, pleaded guilty in July 2019.

Caldwell, senior pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church, is accused of conspiring to persuade multiple victims to invest $3.5 million in bonds issued by the former Republic of China before losing power to the Communist government in 1949.

Caldwell has already made partial restitution to victims and agreed to pay the remaining balance, $1.95 million, before sentencing. Caldwell served as a faith-based adviser to presidents Obama and George W. Bush. Source: KHOU, 3-11-20

Marcin Garbacz, 41, formerly of Rapid City, SD: Convicted by jury of transporting stolen money, 50 counts of wire fraud, 9 counts of money laundering and 5 counts of filing false tax returns for stealing $260,000 from Catholic parishes and schools where he was a pastor and teacher from 2012–18.

Garbacz, a Polish immigrant, was arrested in May 2019 at a Seattle airport waiting for a one-way flight to Poland. Videos showed him taking money, and after being confronted by church officials in 2018 he moved to Washington state and started working for FedEx. Source: Rapid City Journal, 3-11-20

Troy A. Piccaluga, 48, Redwood, MS: Guilty by jury of statutory rape and sexual battery involving two 14-year-old girls while he was pastor of 2 United Methodist churches between January and March 2018.

While the clerk was reading the guilty verdict, deputies saw Piccaluga “pull a handful of what appeared to be pills out of his pocket and take them,” said Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace. He was treated and released and jailed under suicide watch. Source: Vicksburg Post, 3-6-20

Gregory Lisby, 40, Worcester, MA: Pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. Libby, an Episcopal priest and former kindergarten teacher, was arrested in 2019 in possession of nearly 200 images and videos, some of which showed boys as young as 8 in sexual scenarios.

The evidence was discovered in a search of Lisby’s home, which he shared with his husband, the pastor of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and their 2 daughters. His husband has not been implicated and has filed for divorce. Source: Christian Post, 2-25-20

Sentenced

John A. McLean, 59, Little Rock, AR: 21 months in prison and $203,966 restitution to 10 victims after pleading guilty to wire fraud. He served as a Presbyterian minister in 2016–17 while engaged in a scheme with a sports memorabilia dealer to fraudulently sell ordinary items represented as valuable collectibles.

McLean, who told the judge he was “incredibly ashamed,” falsely told prospective buyers that his father obtained some of the items from his connection with famous football coaches. Source: Democrat-Gazette, 3-18-20

Bernard Preynat, 75, Lyon, France: 5 years in prison. Preynat, a defrocked Catholic priest and scout leader, confessed in January to molesting boys aged 7–14 between 1970–90. He testified he abused up to 2 boys “almost every weekend” and as many as 5 a week when he led 1-week scout camps.

His superior, Philippe Barbarin, 69, a conservative named Lyon archbishop in 2002, was given a 6-month suspended sentence in March 2019 for not reporting Preynat’s crimes. An appeals court overturned the conviction in January and Pope Francis accepted his resignation in March. The appeals court ruled Barbarin should have reported Preynat but could not be held criminally liable. Barbarin claimed he dealt with the case as per instructions from the Vatican. Source: AP, 3-16-20

Everett Mitchell, 41, Steubenville, OH: 30 days in jail and 2 years in prison after pleading guilty to 4 counts of sexual battery, 2 counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and misdemeanor sexual imposition when he was pastor of Tower of Power Church.

The victim, Raelin Scurry, who went public to encourage others to come forward, was 12 when the abuse started in 2006 and continued through 2010 in Mitchell’s home, where she also lived. 

Mitchell allegedly made her stand before a mirror outside his bedroom, take off her clothes and touch herself while he watched with his sleeping wife beside him. Another time he bent her over a desk after a church service “and tried to penetrate her.” Source: Herald-Star, 3-10-20

Kevin W. Myers, 74, Colac, Australia: 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to 12 counts of sexual abuse involving 9 boys in the 1980s to 1990s when he taught science at Trinity College. Trinity is a Catholic co-educational school for 7th to 12th graders.

Myers would invite students to learn water safety on weekend trips to the coast and ply them with alcohol. They often awoke to find him groping or sucking their penises. Source: abc.net.au, 3-10-20

Michael Oluronbi, 60, Walsall, UK: 34 years in prison. Oluronbi, an evangelical pastor and self-styled prophet originally from Nigeria, was found guilty of sex offenses against a man and 6 young women dating back to the 1980s. Five of them attended his church and took part in “spiritual bathing” to be cleansed of evil spirits.

Those he impregnated were taken to abortion clinics. His wife Juliana was sentenced to 11 years for aiding and abetting rape and arranging some of the terminations. Source: Express & Star, 3-6-20

Ray Underwood, 46, Syracuse, NE: Up to 85 years in prison, with parole eligibility after 37½ years, after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child. Underwood, a correctional officer and former Methodist pastor at churches in Exeter and McCool Junction, was arrested after a 7-year-old girl was examined at a medical clinic.

Underwood admitted he sexually penetrated the child several times, most recently in May 2019. He blamed his behavior on addiction to pornography, for which he was afraid to seek help for fear of losing his pastoral jobs. Source: KOLN, 2-24-20

Paul D. Burdick, 48, Hillsboro, OR: 6 months in jail and 5 years’ probation with sex offender treatment after release. Burdick, a driver’s education instructor at Portland Community College and bishop of the Hillsboro Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pleaded guilty to 6 counts of 3rd-degree sex abuse occurring from 2012–18. Prosecutors dismissed 15 more counts.

Two teen girls told their parents in 2016 that Burdick touched them sexually during driver’s ed classes. Police investigated but determined the evidence was not strong enough to charge him. Eventually, 21 female students came forward, several alleging he made them perform jumping jacks while he recorded them.

After his arrest in September, 3 students filed a lawsuit seeking $2 million each. Source: The Oregonian, 2-24-20

Scott B. Cline, 33, Kaukauna, WI: 11½ to 23 months in the county jail, 100 hours’ community service, $1,050 restitution and 4 years’ probation after pleading guilty to institutional sexual assault involving incidents with a 16-year-old female student between February and August 2018. Cline resigned as a teacher in October 2018 at Coventry Christian School in Pottstown, PA, and moved to Wisconsin.

The investigation uncovered over 2,500 text messages between Cline and the girl, many between midnight and 5 a.m. during the school year. Source: The Mercury, 2-19-20

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Catholic Diocese of Kamloops, BC, Canada, and its priest Erlindo Molon, 88, are being sued for $2.45 million for alleged sexual assaults by Molon in 1977. Plaintiff Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleges she was 26 when Molon started molesting her when she taught at a church school and after she had gone to him for solace after her father’s death.

He instead began groping her and initiated a sexual relationship that she prayed to God to end, the suit alleges. Source: Kamloops Matters, 3-11-20

Joseph Grasso “sexually assaulted and committed battery” against a male student in 2002–03 at Siena Catholic Academy and/or St. Thomas More Church in Brighton, NY, according to the unidentified plaintiff’s suit. Grasso, an ordained member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, was academy principal at the time and the plaintiff was 12 or 13.

Grasso became chaplain in 2008 at Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany and remains a priest in good standing in his order. Source: Catholic Courier, 3-3-20

Jonathan Meyer, 40, Zeeland, MI, Holland Public Schools, Christ Memorial Reformed Church and Young Life are defendants in a suit filed on behalf of 5 plaintiffs, now adult men, who allege Meyer sexually assaulted them as adolescents and he was a church youth group leader and  middle school lunchroom worker.

It’s alleged Meyer continued to abuse boys for years after a student complained and before  his 2012 arrest. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six to 20 years but is now released.

The suit says he plied students with alcohol and cigarettes and taught them it was normal to masturbate together and have sex with each other and him: “Meyer told the plaintiffs that ‘what happens in the cabin, stays in the cabin.’ ”

Much of the abuse is alleged during youth group and church events such as a Young Life overnight camp. Young Life is a Christian youth ministry based in Colorado. One field trip included a stop at a Hooters restaurant in Grand Rapids.

He’s also suspected of abuse while working at Holland Christian Schools, but that’s not part of the suit. Source: Holland Sentinel, 3-1-20

“Jane Doe” is suing Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oak Lawn, IL, over claims its youth pastor Adam Cook molested her underage daughter in 2018. He has not been charged criminally.

The girl had signed up for a youth service project created by Cook, which he allegedly used to coerce her into an inappropriate relationship, it’s alleged. Source: Oak Lawn Patch, 2-27-20

Joseph E. Larrabee is being sued by 2 men in their 50s who allege he sexually abused them as teens at least 19 times between 1982–84 as pastor at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Avon, NY. Larrabee was identified as an abuser as far back as 2002 and in August 2019 was named in 3 previous suits for having “unpermitted sexual contact” with minors. Co-defendants are 4 parishes and officials of the Diocese of Rochester. Source: Livingston County News, 2-26-20

The Diocese of Brooklyn and St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Flushing, NY, are being sued by Charles Pellegrino, 66, who alleges he was abused in 2nd grade by his teacher. “He was really savagely beaten by this Sister Mary Jeremy — kicked in his groin and otherwise really injured,” Pellegrino’s attorney Diane Paolicelli alleged to a reporter. “This poor child went through hell.” Source: NY Daily News, 2-20-20

Civil Lawsuits Settled

A bankruptcy judge approved a $34 million settlement between the Minnesota Diocese of New Ulm and 93 claimants alleging sexual abuse by clergy. Abuse survivors will start receiving payments in May.

“This is a massive cleanup of a massive cover-up,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson. Bishop John LeVoir apologized to survivors during the hearing.

Of the $34 million, $26 million comes from diocesan and parish insurance coverage; $7 million in cash contributions from the diocese and $1 million contributed by all parishes in the diocese. Source: AP, 3-10-20

Ballarat Christian College in southeast Australia will pay an undisclosed amount and give a positive employment reference to former teacher Rachel Colvin, who was fired in 2017 after refusing to support the school’s statement opposing same-sex marriage.

However, the settlement also said Ballarat doesn’t have to change its “statement of faith” or make concessions on its teaching. Source: The Australian, 3-8-20 

Legal Developments

Charles Hanel, 61, Pewaukee, WI, charged with sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl, had a mistrial declared by the judge after nearly a week of testimony. Hanel, pastor at Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church, is accused of groping the girl inside the confessional in 2017.

Judge Michael Maxwell ended the trial in light of efforts by the girl’s mother to gain legal immigration status. Hanel’s attorneys argued that the girl likely fabricated the accusation to help her mother gain legal status.

The victim’s mother has a history of illegal entry into the U.S., attorney Jerome Buting said, citing discovery material. As a result, all the usual paths to entry for her were barred.

“Except for one way,” Buting said. “If she was the parent of a child who was the victim of a sexual assault.”

The prosecution argued that disclosure of her undocumented status gave more weight to her testimony because she was risking deportation by revealing that fact. Prosecutor Sue Opper said she was uncertain if the state would seek to retry Hanel. Source: Journal Sentinel, 3-13-20

Gary A. Jacobs, 74, Albuquerque, NM: Jacobs was charged in January with 7 counts of criminal sexual conduct alleged to have been committed in 1981–84, including with a child under age 13, when he was a Catholic priest in Michigan. Two more Michigan alleged victims have since come forward, adding 3 more counts of criminal sexual conduct involving a child between the ages of 13 and 15. Source: mlive.com, 3-11-20

Jason J. Hicks, 46, Ponca City, OK, was bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing. Hicks, a deacon at Agape Church of Christ, was arrested in October 2019 and is charged with lewd or indecent proposals or acts with a child under 16 years old.

Charges date to August 2019 when the alleged victim was visiting Hicks’ daughter for a sleepover and was groped on her breasts and groin. The 15-year-old then called her mother and asked to be picked up.

“If we didn’t believe the story, we certainly wouldn’t pursue it,” Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden said. Source: KFOR, 3-6-20

A federal appeals court upheld a $21.7 million civil verdict against Connecticut rabbi Daniel Greer, 79, sentenced in December to 12 years in prison for repeatedly molesting a teen boy in the early 2000s when he attended the Yeshiva of New Haven school, which Greer founded.

Greer appealed, claiming the civil trial judge erred in instructing the jury on how to consider his invoking his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when declining to answer questions during the trial. Source: NBC New York, 3-4-20

Allegations

Peter J. Karalus, Buffalo, NY, a close aide to Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, was placed on administrative leave while an independent investigator looks into an abuse allegation involving a teen in 2011 when Karalus was pastor at St. John Paul II Parish in Lakeview. He is now vicar general and moderator of the curia for the diocese.

Karalus said in a statement, “I emphatically deny and confidently declare as false the allegation that I offered words of inappropriate content to a penitent during the Sacrament of Reconciliation nine years ago.”

“The complaint that we received refers only to some words that were allegedly stated by Father Karalus during a confession,” Rodney Personius, his attorney, said. “Father Karalus cannot disclose anything that was said during a confession, but says his words must have been either misunderstood or misremembered by the person who made the complaint.”

Karalus said he doesn’t remember the complainant. Source: Buffalo News, 3-21-20

World Vision International, among Australia’s biggest charities, has been implicated in a $1.6 million corruption scandal involving alleged nepotism and kickbacks in return for lucrative printing contracts for mass mailings.

The charity was founded in 1950 and states on its website: “Going to the ends. Where no one else goes. Because Jesus is alive in the hardest places to be a child. That’s because we’re a global Christian humanitarian organization.”

World Vision Australia chief executive officer Claire Rogers announced her resignation for family and personal reasons in March, and officials deny it had anything to do with the scandal.

Chief financial officer Gordon Allison said the charity was “deeply concerned” by the allegations and has asked Victoria Police and the auditing firm KPMG “to undertake a formal, independent investigation of this matter.” Source: Morning Herald, 3-8-20

Lists published by 52 U.S. Catholic dioceses of credibly accused clergy showed 51 clergy accused in the U.S. were able to work as priests or religious brothers in a host of countries, from Ireland to Nigeria to the Philippines. ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle analyzed the lists.

At least 40 had worked in U.S. states along the southern border, including 11 in Texas. No country was a more common destination than Mexico, where at least 21 found refuge.

The 178 lists made public as of January and compiled into a searchable database by ProPublica revealed a web of incomplete and often inconsistent information. No diocese in Mexico, home to about 90 million Catholics, has published a list. Source: ProPublica/Houston Chronicle, 3-6-20

Removed / Resigned

Michael Ryan, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel & St. Peter in March, England, stepped down during an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse of children at his former assignment in Peru. The parish belongs to the Catholic Latin Rite Diocese of East Anglia. Source: Cambs Times, 3-25-20

Robert “Bud” Grant, a Catholic priest on the faculty at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA, was put on leave due to an allegation of sexual misconduct from the early 1990s. He was ordained in 1984.

The allegation dates to when Grant taught and coached boys soccer at St. Albert High School in Council Bluffs. A prosecutor said the complaint involved a person who was a minor at the time and is too old to be criminally investigated. Source: AP. 3-18-20

George Alengadan, 67, was placed on leave by the Diocese of Oakland, CA, for a second time due to allegations of groping and sexual impropriety with female employees. Since last July, Alengadan has been removed as pastor of St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda and Christ the King Catholic Parish in Pleasant Hill.

Five women have alleged sexual harassment and Alameda police have opened a criminal probe.

The parents of the original alleged victim complained to the diocese about 2002 incidents but said they decided against going to police because they trusted the church to handle it internally.

The mother alerted the diocese again in 2016, sending an email to Bishop Michael Barber without results, she said. The diocese finally investigated and closed a probe in 2018, then more women came forward. Source: San Franciso Chronicle, 2-26-20

Other

Cesar Pastrana, 33, an inmate at Hancock State Prison in Sparta, GA, died after a fight with another inmate. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to multiple counts of aggravated child molestation and aggravated sodomy involving 9 boys, including 2 relatives.

His arrest in February 2012 came days after a weekend lock-in for middle school and high school students sponsored by NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, where he volunteered. An arrest warrant alleged Pastrana had sexual contact at a similar event in 2011 held at his home.

He had previously been dismissed as a teaching assistant at a public school for inappropriate conduct but passed a background check before starting work at NorthStar. Source: Journal-Constitution, 3-20-20

Darrell L. Gilyard, 58, who admitted molesting 2 girls and was sentenced to 3 years in prison in 2009, was installed as the new pastor of Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. Many in the congregation are concerned that a registered sex offender is their pastor.

“Our phones were ringing off the hook,” said Lynn Jones, an editor for the Jacksonville Free Press. “Members of Mount Ararat — they were totally upset, and a lot of them are our subscribers.”

Gilyard started preaching at Christ Missionary Tabernacle Baptist Church in 2012 after he was released.

Tiffany Thigpen Kilgannon said on Facebook that she was a victim and wrote that “God doesn’t need predators in the pulpit, no matter how great a speaker or the truth of God’s word being spoken.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Gilyard is not on probation and can work wherever he wants. The church is across from Stanton College Preparatory School. Source: WJXT, 3-10-20

Gerald R. Hechenberger, 56, Mascoutah, IL, was pronounced dead March 6 while serving a 9-year sentence at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. The cause of death was not released but Hechenberger was morbidly obese and leaning on a cane when sentenced in January after pleading guilty to possession and dissemination of child pornography and possessing methamphetamine.

He was associate pastor of Holy Childhood Catholic Church and School when arrested in 2018. At sentencing, he told the court his behavior was a result of a “perfect storm” of mental health issues, drug use, hypersexual thoughts and grief after the 2014 death of his father.

Judge Zina Cruse said he “exhibited a desire to see others abuse prepubescent children.” Source: News-Democrat, 3-7-20

The Diocese of Phoenix announced the death of John D. Spaulding, 74, who was indicted in January on 6 counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and 1 count of molestation of a child. The alleged abuse involving 2 boys younger than 14 happened between 2003–07 when Spaulding was pastor at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Phoenix and St. Tim’s Catholic Church in Mesa.

Spaulding was laicized in 2014 but appealed the decision. His appeal was still pending with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he died, according to the diocese. Source: KPHO, 2-26-20

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