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

Black Collar Crime (August 2020)

Vol. 37 No. 06 August 2020
Let us prey                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Five members of the Catholic teaching order Clercs de Saint-Viateur du Canada were arrested for alleged sexual abuse of boys in their care between 1961-89. The men are between the ages of 78 and 88 and live in the Clercs de Saint-Viateur home in Joliette, Quebec

They face over 30 charges, including gross indecency, sexual assault and indecent assault. Fifteen alleged victims have recently come forward. A 2017 class action suit against the order includes at least 270 alleged victims involving incidents at 20 locations as far back as the 1930s. Source: CBC, 6-23-20

Charles Richmond, 30, Viroqua, WI: Sexual assault. Richmond, parochial administrator of Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is accused of assaulting the same child on at least 3 different occasions. He was ordained in 2015.

During his time in Chippewa Falls, Richmond was chaplain at McDonell High School and Notre Dame Middle School. The criminal complaint said a police officer interviewed a 19-year-old woman in March who alleged Richmond touched her sexually multiple times in her sophomore year before she turned 16. Source: Chippewa Herald, 6-17-20

Steven M. Glover, 42, Coventry, RI: Obtaining money over $1,500, larceny over $1,500 and fraudulent use of a credit card. Glover, who resigned as pastor of Sts. Rose and Clement Catholic Church in Warwick in August 2019, is accused of making personal purchases amounting to about $40,000 with a church credit card. Source: Providence Journal, 6-16-20

Esteban Ruiz, 21, Kearny, NJ: Sexual assault of a minor and endangering the welfare of a child. Ruiz allegedly assaulted a 16-year-old girl in April 2018 while he was a youth leader at Good Shepherd Church. When arrested he listed Centro de Adoracion in Hackensack as his current employer. Source: The Observer, 6-16-20

Marc V. Spera, 57, St. Petersburg, FL: Statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related charges. Spera is accused of crimes as a teacher at Church Farm School in Exton, PA, where he worked from 1995 to 2010.

The school was founded in 1918 by an Episcopal clergyman as a boarding school for boys, mostly from single-parent homes. Edmund “Ned” Sherrill II, another Episcopal pastor, now heads the school.

The investigation started after a man told authorities last year he was molested by Spera when he was in the 7th and 8th grades in 2008–10. Spera also volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America from 1980 to the present. Source: Daily Local News, 6-12-20

Ray J. Wigdal, 61, La Crosse, WI: Possession of child pornography. Wigdal is CEO of the Mordecai and Esther Foundation. Its website says it provides medical care for children “born with bodily deformities” and other services to meet orphans’ needs in Sierra Leone and Pakistan. (Mordecai adopted his cousin Esther and raised her as his daughter in the Old Testament Book of Esther.)

Wigdal was at the center of a controversy in China in 2014 while caring for 11 orphans, including a girl named Phoebe. He claimed her fatal injuries were from a bicycling accident but media reports said the girl told hospital staff Wigdal had been hitting her. Source: La Crosse Tribune, 5-30-20

Christopher Keys, 56, Macon, GA: Solicitation of sodomy. Keys was fired as a youth pastor by Wesleyan Drive Baptist Church after a May 19 incident. Deputies had responded to a call about an armed robbery at a motel, where Keys claimed he was robbed by 2 black men.

Keys, who is married, allegedly told deputies he had answered a Craigslist ad to meet a man at the motel. It was determined there was no truth to his claim to have been carjacked from a CVS store. He told deputies “he did not want this to get out and that he did not want deputies to talk with his relatives,” a sheriff’s press release said. Source: Baptist Press, 5-27-20

An unidentified rabbi from the Shuba Israel congregation in Buenos Aires and 7 wedding party participants, including the bride and groom, were cited by police for violating the coronavirus lockdown banning public and religious events.

It was the third Jewish wedding in less than a week in the Balvanera area of the city, which is home to a large Orthodox population. Police took no enforcement action at the previous weddings. The Shuba Israel congregation has lost at least 2 members to COVID-19. Source: JTA, 5-26-20

Gustavo Gonzalez Zamora, 68, Lodi, CA: Multiple counts of child molestation alleged to have occurred between 1994–2000 when Zamora was a pastor at the Apostolic Assembly Church in Lindsay.

Zamora “abruptly left the church in 2000,” a sheriff’s statement said. He is now pastor at a Stockton church. Source: Times-Delta, 5-22-20

Roy N. Shoop, 55, Inola, OK: 6 counts, including lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child under 16 and rape by instrumentation. Shoop, pastor at Cowboy Gatherin’ Church, is accused of crimes against 3 girls, ages 15, 13 and 12, who were either working on his farm or taking equestrian lessons from him between April 2018 and Jan. 3, 2020.

Sheriff Scott Walton said there may be other victims and that Shoop was cocky and arrogant toward deputies on the way to jail. Source: Fox 23/Tulsa World, 5-20-20

Chicago pastors Joe Wyrostek of Metro Praise International Church and Cristian Ionescu of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church were cited for disorderly conduct for violating the Illinois “stay at home” order by holding services with over 10 people attending.

“If that’s what it takes to continue our mandate to serve our people, then it’s a price we are willing to pay,” said Ionescu, who is suing Gov. J.B. Pritzker over the restrictions. Source; NBC Chicago, 5-20-20

Gary J. Eaches, 41, Dickson City, PA: Indecent assault. Eaches, the father of 2 teens, allegedly admitted to police that he gave a 16-year-old girl alcohol and marijuana and improperly touched her. He had recently lost his job as pastor at United Baptist Church in Scranton.

Eaches describes himself on his Twitter page as “Aspiring Comedian, enjoy singing country music, #typeonediabtic, #chronicillness and struggles with #addiction.” On another post he’s singing the Hank Williams Jr. song “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound.” Source: WNEP/Twitter, 5-18-20

Tony A. Shaw, 55, Sheridan, MT: Felony sexual assault. Shaw, pastor at Ruby Valley Baptist Church, is accused of inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl in the church basement, where another person allegedly witnessed the contact.

Sheriff’s officials said they had received an earlier assault complaint involving Shaw. Source: Montana Standard, 5-14-20

Yisrael Knopfler, 45, Lakewood, NJ: Obstruction, resisting arrest and violating the governor’s executive order by having a gathering of 10 or more. Police had responded to a report of a large gathering at the Orthodox rabbi’s home, where about 30 people were standing around a barrel fire in the backyard.

It’s alleged Knopfler threatened officers with a garden hose and tent pole, chest-bumped an officer before dropping to the ground and refused to walk to a police vehicle. Source: NJ 101.5 FM, 5-14-20

Nine Serbian Orthodox Church priests in Montenegro, including Bishop Joanikije Mićović of the eparchy of Budimlja and Nikšić, were detained by police for holding a procession attended by thousands in Nikšić despite a ban on gatherings due to the coronavirus.

Riots broke out after the arrests. The men were released after 72 hours. Montenegro, with 620,000 people, split from much larger Serbia in a 2006 referendum. The church is headquartered in Belgrade. Source: Reuters, 5-13-20

Pleaded / Convicted

Gregory Dow, 61, Lancaster, PA: Pleaded guilty to 4 counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in a foreign place between 2013 and 2017 while running the Dow Family Children’s Home in Boito, Kenya. Prosecutors said that when the abuse started, the victims were between the ages of 11 and 13.

He founded the home in 2008 after moving to Kenya with his wife and 6 children. “[Dow] purported to be a Christian missionary who would care for these orphans,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain. Dow started the home independent of a mission organization but with financial support of churches and church members.

A plea agreement calls for him to serve 15 years and 8 months in prison. He pleaded guilty in 1996 to assault to commit sexual abuse in Iowa and received 2 years’ probation. Source: Des Moines Register, 6-15-20

Cesar A. Guerrero Jr., 42, Sharonville, OH: Pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement for engaging in sexual acts with a 17-year-old girl on 2 occasions in 2019 in his office at Mision Cristiana el Calvario.

According to the plea agreement, Guerrero told the girl, who’d been sexually molested in Guatemala, that he dreamed of her “dressed in white” while “walking in a dark place” with the only way to get out of the dark place was to have sex with him as a “cleansing process.” Source: WXIX, 6-11-20

Jerry Zweitzig, 71, Hatboro, PA: Pleaded guilty to manufacturing and attempted manufacturing of child pornography. Zweitzig, pastor at Horsham Bible Church until his 2016 retirement, admitted videotaping his abuse of an infant in 2010.

The video was discovered during a presentence investigation of a separate exploitation case in which he pleaded guilty in 2019. In that case he admitted molesting a girl from the ages of 5 to 11 and taping it. He also had a porn collection depicting over a thousand other children. Source: The Inquirer, 5-20-20

Sentenced

Jo Ann White, 60, Bristol, VA: 10 years’ probation and restitution of at least $300 a month after pleading guilty to theft of $60,000 or more for stealing over $65,000 from East Bristol Freewill Baptist Church, where she was treasurer and her husband was pastor until he retired at the end of 2019.

Church elders sought financial records from the Whites after checks started bouncing but they stalled in providing them, said current church secretary Beth Lester. Source: Herald Courier, 6-18-20

David M. Weltman, 29, Skokie, IL: Indeterminate prison term not to exceed 25 years after a jury found him guilty of sexual abuse. Weltman, the former director of Hillel House in Iowa City, IA, will have to serve at least 17½ years.

He was accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy in a storage area at the Jewish student center during a Hebrew lesson in 2019. Judge Chad Kepros said although the sex act was short in duration, “the seriousness of the offense is not defined by length.”

Weltman told the court he hoped they see the “gross injustice of this egregiously long sentence.” Source: Press-Citizen, 6-12-20

Kevin P. Healy, 81, Napier, New Zealand: 9 months’ home detention after pleading guilty to 5 counts of indecency in the 1970s involving a girl aged 8 or 9 and her brother and another boy who were 12 and 13. Healy, a Catholic brother who taught school, took students on outings and to camps and was a regular visitor to families’ homes.

A male victim in court called the sentence as “a bit light.” The judge said he took Healy’s age and infirmity into account even though he had a previous conviction. Source: NZ Herald, 6-5-20

Brett J. Monroe, 39, Arlington, TX: 24 years, 3 months in prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a child. Monroe, associate pastor for 11 years at Heritage Baptist Church, admitted using his cellphone to secretly record underage females showering in his home and converting the videos into still images to trade online.

He was also a registered volunteer at Corey Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language, formerly Corey Elementary School. Source: KTVT, 6-2-20

Phillip C. Loftis, 53, Silver Point, TN: 18 months’ probation after pleading guilty to solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted statutory rape. Loftis, pastor at Herrens Chapel Church of Christ, engaged in an online conversation with an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl and exposed himself in photos sent to the agent. Source: Herald-Citizen, 6-1-20

Ryan D. Crawford, 33, Austin, AR: 25 years in prison without parole followed by 20 years’ supervised probation and $2,500 in victim restitution after pleading guilty to producing child pornography. Crawford, assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Pineville, MO, admitted touching a 9-year-old girl inappropriately and taking sexually explicit photos of her while she was sleeping. Source: Joplin Globe, 5-27-20

Alisa Haynes, 45, and Alexis Fortune, 25, Toledo, OH: 2 years and 4 years in prison respectively, after pleading guilty to tampering with a witness or victim. They are the wife and stepdaughter of convicted pastor Anthony Haynes, sentenced earlier to life for a sex-trafficking scheme involving a teen girl and several others.

“Ms. Fortune gave one of the victims a phone in order to leave not just one, but two voicemail messages recanting what the victim said to law enforcement officers about what happened in the underlying sex-trafficking case,” U.S. Assistant Attorney Ashley Futrell said. Source: Toledo Blade, 5-20-20

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Catholic Diocese of Albany, NY, is being sued for failure to stop child sexual abuse by 2 now-deceased priests: J. Gregory Mulhall, who served as pastor of Annunciation Church in Ilion from 1961 until retiring in 1985, and Charles A. Gaffigan, who retired from Holy Mother and Child Parish in Lake Luzerne. Mulhall died in 2001 and Gaffigan died in 2015.

The law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave Wein & Frament have filed 74 such complaints. Source: Observer-Dispatch, 6-15-20

St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Jamaica, NY, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and former scoutmaster and teacher Lawrence Svrcek are defendants in a suit in which Svrcek is accused of molesting the plaintiff and other children in the 1970s and 1980s.

Plaintiff “C.R.” decided to come forward after learning about an earlier complaint against Svrcek. That 2019 suit also named the Boy Scouts of America and asserted Svrcek molested plaintiff “N.R.” from 1977–82 when Svrcek was a scoutmaster and a science and gym teacher at the church’s school. Source: Daily Eagle, 6-11-20

A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward in San Jose, CA, is at the center of a suit alleging 2 underage sisters were molested between 2009–16 by Joseph Neipp, now 72. “In his actual or apparent authoritative capacity as the bishop of the Branham Ward, Neipp repeatedly engaged in inappropriate grooming behavior with children during Primary classes and on or around ward events including allowing small children to sit on his lap, and transporting plaintiffs and other young children alone in his vehicle to ward activities,” it’s alleged.

Even though Neipp was excommunicated due to an earlier complaint, church members weren’t told, so that “he was still regarded as bishop or ‘Father of the Ward’ and parents were under the impression that it was safe for children to be around him,” the suit alleges. Source: KUTV, 6-5-20

Douglas D. Thore, 72, former pastor of St. Nicodemus Lutheran Church in Marilla, NY, the parish and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are being sued by 2 men now in their 30s who allege sexual abuse by Thore when they were teens. He resigned as pastor in 2004 after admitting to church officials he had sexual contact with 2 boys in the congregation years earlier.

Thore, who lives in Davenport, FL, told the court in a letter he can’t afford a lawyer. “I live in a mobile home built in 1984 which currently has little equity. I drive a 2010 Toyota Yaris with 135,000 miles on it. I budget every dollar to pay my bills and live on what is left over, trying to save for major repairs, such as replacing a hot water tank,” he said. “This is my life.” Source: Buffalo News, 6-4-20

The Allentown Catholic Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, PA, have been sued by Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi, who alleges he was molested ate age 13 by Edward R. Graff in 1984-85. The suit asserts that Graff was put on “sick leave” in 1979-80 and was sent to New Mexico in 1986 for “treatment of undefined but ‘serious’ conduct.”

He was eventually arrested in 2002 on child sex charges in Texas and died a month later in jail before facing trial. Rozzi learned about Graff’s history only after reading a statewide grand jury report. Source: Reading Eagle, 5-28-20

The Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY, is accused of invasion of privacy related to a suit that alleges Long Island priest Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested plaintiff Greg Hein, 52, at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in 1984.

Hein said he was contacted several months after filing his suit by an ex-roommate who had attended a drug abuse program with him in 2017 and had recently gotten a call from a church investigator. “I felt like I was being violated again,” said Hein. “How they got [his] information is just beyond me.”

“To possess this information is grossly improper and a violation of both Mr. Hein’s and [the roommate’s] right to privacy,” court papers state. Hein’s suit is among at least 44 filed against the diocese after the passage of the Child Victims Act. Source: NY Post, 5-24-20

CrossPoint Community Church (formerly First Baptist Church), Modesto, CA, and former youth pastor Robert Chapman are defendants in a suit filed by Carl Epperson and Larry Spencer, who allege Chapman, now in his 80s, molested them as teens.

The church has already settled a separate suit with survivor Jennifer Roach for $267,500 for abuse by youth pastor Brad Tebbutt in the late 1980s. A suit filed last October by Tracy Epler alleges she was assaulted by youth pastor Les Hughey in the 1970s.

Epperson said Chapman led a “Disciples Group … which was supposedly to help young teen boys with issues related to reaching puberty.” One night he awoke in Chapman’s camper on church grounds before an event to find Chapman masturbating him, the suit asserts.

Epperson alleges after he reported the abuse that detectives told him he “would be serving three to five years in California Youth Authority if I was lying. They asked, ‘Did you like it? Did you enjoy it? Did you ever think you might be homosexual?’ I remember telling myself, ‘You know what happened, don’t let these guys falsify what you know is true.’ ”

The case was closed without charges, Chapman kept his job and later assaulted another teen boy. He pleaded guilty to child molestation in 1987 and served 300 days in jail. Source: Modesto Bee, 5-23-20

The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, NY, St. John the Evangelist School in Binghamton and school employee James Purtell are being sued by a 57-year-old man alleging deceased priest Thomas Keating molested him for 3 years starting in 1973 when he was 11.

Purtell is accused of making sexual comments to the plaintiff in 1973. He and Keating both used fear and intimidation to ensure the plaintiff’s silence, it’s alleged. Source: Press and Sun-Bulletin, 5-21-20

The Catholic Diocese of Allentown, PA, and St. Catharine of Siena Parish in Reading are defendants in a suit filed by Timothy McGettigan, a Texas man who alleges he was sexually abused and tortured by several priests in a church basement in the 1970s.

McGettigan alleges he was assaulted by Joseph Grembocki, David A. Soderlund and other priests he can’t identify. Grembocki died in July 2016. He is not named in the statewide grand jury report and no other accusation has surfaced. Soderlund was defrocked in 2005 and moved to Wyoming, where he was sent to prison for exploiting children and possessing child pornography.

The suit alleges Soderlund started a “single moms with kids” club to identify and groom vulnerable children. Over 50 Allentown Diocese priests have been accused of child abuse. Source: Morning Call, 5-20-20

Finances

The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, NY, facing upwards of 100 lawsuits under the Child Victims Act, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bishop Douglas Lucia said in a statement that the diocese will implement a victims fund charged with pooling money from the diocese and insurance carriers to assess the extent of coverage.

Syracuse is the third of New York’s 8 dioceses after Buffalo and Rochester to file for bankruptcy. Source: NY Post, 6-19-20

The Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud, MN, agreed to a framework for resolving clergy sexual abuse claims against the diocese and its parishes. It has received 74 claims of sexual abuse of minors involving 41 clergy.

The agreement includes a $22.5 million trust fund to compensate abuse survivors, a commitment to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection “in the near future” and to make public a list of all credibly accused clergy. Source: KSTP, 5-26-20

Legal Developments

Retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart is still under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of over a dozen boys despite earlier claims to the contrary by a Wyoming prosecutor. Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen told Cheyenne police he is still pursuing charges and the case is still open. A prosecutor who later recused herself misread or misunderstood details in a probable cause affidavit, Itzen said.

Hart, 88, was a priest in Kansas City, MO, for 21 years before moving to Wyoming, where he served as auxiliary and then full bishop from 1976 until retiring in 2001. The first known allegations against him date to the early 1960s and were made in the late 1980s.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has settled suits with at least 10 victims. At least 6 men have come forward in the past 2 years to say he molested them in Wyoming. Source: AP, 6-23-20

Televangelist Jim Bakker filed a civil action in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on behalf of his Morningside Church and Morningside Church Productions based in Blue Eye. Bakker hopes to thwart attempts by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office to obtain personal information of congregation members as part of an investigation into Bakker’s promotion of Silver Solution, which he claims cures COVID-19.

Bakker is also under investigation in Missouri for his Silver Solution claims. In their complaint, Bakker’s attorneys claim he feels “divinely inspired” to offer Silver Solution to the world and that products like it “have been made available to this generation by God.”

It was announced in May that Bakker, 80, had suffered a stroke and would be taking a break from “The Jim Bakker Show” to recover. Source: Democrat-Gazette, 6-10-20

Donald C. Biggs, 41, a youth pastor at Mountain Church in Medford, OR, sentenced in 2018 to 15 years for secretly recording juvenile girls showering, was granted a public defender to help him apply for “compassionate release” from a Minnesota federal prison due to coronavirus concerns.

“I fear for my life based on the fact that I cannot ‘social distance’ in prison,” Biggs wrote in a May 14 letter asking for release “to go home to be with my loved ones to support them through this pandemic.”

Biggs made national headlines when the victim’s father and church member jumped the railing and punched him during sentencing. Charges against him were later dismissed. Source: Mail Tribune, 5-21-20

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the deadline for filing childhood sexual abuse claims due to the coronavirus pandemic from Aug. 14 to Jan. 14, 2021. Cuomo said a reduction in court services has limited the ability of survivors’ attorneys to file and prepare cases.

It took more than a decade for the Child Victims Act to become law, as Catholic churches and other organizations opposed it year after year for liability reasons. “The decision to extend it through executive order is not terribly surprising to us,” said Dennis Poust of the New York State Catholic Conference. Source: Queens Courier/Crux, 5-11-20

Allegations

Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, NY, has been accused by a second man of abuse in the 1970s, when DiMarzio was a parish priest in Jersey City, NJ.

DiMarzio “repeatedly sexually abused” Samier Tadros starting when he was about 6 years old, according to a letter Tadros’ lawyer sent to the attorney representing the Archdiocese of Newark. The letter alleges the abuse happened in Holy Rosary Church.

“There is absolutely no truth to this allegation,” DiMarzio told The Associated Press. “We have uncovered conclusive evidence of Bishop DiMarzio’s innocence,” said Joseph Hayden, his attorney. Hayden declined to share the evidence with the AP.

Mitchell Garabedian, best known for focusing attention in 2002 on clergy abuse scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston, represents both accusers, who are ages 46 and 57 and live in different states. Source: Alton Telegraph, 6-4-20

Removed / Resigned

Jack Herron, Fargo, ND, a retired Catholic priest, was removed from public ministry by the Diocese of Fargo after a woman accused him of groping her in the church rectory when she was 15 or 16 in the 1970s.

“The canonical investigation and review by the diocesan review board is complete,” a statement said. “It was determined that Father Herron would not have faculties to engage in public ministry.” The diocese released a list in January of 31 priests, deacons and non-ordained individuals whom it believes have been credibly accused. Source: inforum.com, 6-18-20

Carlos Osorio of St. Louis Catholic Parish in Clarksville, MD, was removed from priestly faculties after alleged “sexual activity involving adults” was reported to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Osorio, 36, is not expected to return to active ministry, said Mary Ellen Russell, director of community affairs for the archdiocese. Source: Baltimore Sun, 6-8-20

James Curtin, Lockport, IL, resigned as pastor of St. Dennis Catholic Parish after an inappropriate video was posted to social media. In a letter to parents, St. Dennis School said a student opened a Snapchat video which included Curtin and went viral.

Lockport police are investigating the video. The diocese said the video was not created with malicious intent but was done due to lack of knowledge of modern technology. Source: WGN, 5-14-20

Timothy Seavey, 31, Mesa, AZ, was removed as pastor at Queen of Peace Catholic Church and chaplain of Seton Catholic Preparatory High School amid allegations he sent “inappropriate images of a sexual nature” to a 17-year-old boy.

Allegations were reported to the high school and police after the boy recognized Seavey, said Detective Nik Rasheta. A complication is that the boy identified himself as 18 in his online dating profile. Mesa police said the investigation is active but no charges have been filed. Source: Mesa Tribune, 5-12-20

Other

Father Sergei (né Nikolai Romanov), a prominent Russian Orthodox priest barred from public ministry in April for preaching about his anti-coronavirus views, took over the Sredneuralsk convent outside the city of Yekaterinburg and set up a perimeter of Cossack militia to guard the site. “Father Sergei literally removed the mother superior from management,” the Yekaterinburg Diocese told reporters.

The ultraconservative priest and former policeman previously spent 13 years in prison for murder. He faces an ecclesiastical court for defying bans on public ministry as well as a secular court on suspicion of inciting hatred. Source: Moscow Times, 6-17-20

Thomas J. Weston, 68, Laketown, UT, was found dead of an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on counts of sodomy on a child and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The Rich County Sheriff’s Office received a report in January that Weston had assaulted a minor female relative “numerous times” dating back to 2018.

According to his obituary, “He served an honorable LDS mission in The Australia West Mission from 1971—1973. … Tom was a mountain of a man with a laugh to match. He served in various positions in his church and his community.” He and his wife were married in 1973 in the Ogden Temple and raised 4 children.

Sheriff Dale Stacey set up a monitored phone call Jan. 24 between the victim and Weston, during which Weston allegedly admitted to her he had one things that would “probably put me in prison the rest of my life.” Source: Uinta County Herald, 6-15-20

David A. Gross, 86, died of COVID-19 complications while incarcerated at Colorado’s Sterling Correctional Facility. Gross was a retired Air Force chaplain described as a “serial child molester” by the judge who sentenced him at age 79 to 10 years to life in prison.

Gross was arrested on suspicion of sexually touching 4 granddaughters as part of their “special relationship” with him. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, 5-20-20

Darrin Patrick, 49, St Louis, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Patrick founded the Southern Baptist megachurch The Journey with his wife in 2002 and later served as a teaching pastor at the multi-site Seacoast Church based in South Carolina. He was a former chaplain for the baseball St. Louis Cardinals.

Patrick was fired in 2016 as pastor of The Journey for “deep historical patterns of sin” involving 2 women. After 26 months of “restoration,” he started working at Seacoast Church.

His friend Bob Oesch said Patrick would often ask people who “lived without God in their lives,” “How’s that working for you?’ “And that was a great way of getting people to see the value of putting God

in their lives,” Oesch said. “I still call it the Darrin question.” Source: Post & Courier/Religion News Service, 5-9-20

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