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

Black Collar Crime (Jan/Feb 2021)

Vol. 38 No. 01 Jan/Feb 2021
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Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Nathaniel S. Myers, 38, Clovis, CA: 6 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child. It’s alleged Myers molested multiple children under age 14 during the last 18 years “while actively working” at an unnamed church and as a landscaper, said a press release from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

Online sources list Steve and Peggy Myers as teaching pastors at SouthPoint Church in Fresno. A Facebook page lists Nate Stephen Myers as a Worship Team Member at SouthPoint from 1995 to the present.

It’s believed there’s “a strong possibility” he may have victimized other children, the release said. Source: Fresno Bee, 11-26-20

Robert McKenzie, 49, Brooklyn Park, MN: 2 counts of 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct. It’s alleged that McKenzie, co-founder of Word of Faith Ministries, molested a 17-year-old girl inside a residence in November. The church holds services at a St. Louis Park hotel.

Court papers stated he admitted touching the girl inappropriately, saying he “had a perverted thought.” Source: WCCO, 11-25-20

Michael M. Penkava, 71, Crystal Lake, IL: Misdemeanor violating reporting provisions. Penkava, a Jehovah’s Witness church elder, is accused of failing to notify police about an allegation that a male congregant was sexually abusing a family member. Source: Northwest Herald, 11-25-20

Mark A. Korando Sr., 69, Costa Mesa, CA: 2 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child with a foreign object, 3 counts of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 or younger, 2 counts of forcible lewd act on a child and 7 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child younger than 14.

Police said Korando volunteered for years as a chaperone for children at a church identified as located in the 1700 block of Baker Street. The only church in that vicinity is Mesa Verde United Methodist Church at 1701 Baker St.

His arrest for alleged assaults on 2 sisters, ages 12 and 14, about 2 years ago came after their mother contacted police in September. As a chaperone, Korando helped take church youth groups out of state on trips to provide services to needy people. Source: CBS-LA, 11-25-20

Timothy L. Waters, 39, Elizabethtown, KY: 1 count each of 1st-degree sexual abuse, 3rd-degree sodomy and 3rd-degree rape. Elder Ben Ashlock of The Driven Church said Waters had volunteered with the church’s youth about “one year, more or less.”

An arrest affidavit said Waters was “in a position of authority” when he allegedly had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl on multiple occasions. Vine Grove Police Chief Kenny Mattingly said his department became aware of the situation when an officer encountered Waters and the girl at a city park. Source: News-Enterprise, 11-25-20

Moises Norberto-Guerrero, 43, Greenville, SC: Criminal sexual conduct with a minor and 2nd-degree assault and battery involving alleged incidents between 2008–19 with several victims. It’s alleged that Norberto-Guerrero, pastor at Iglesia Pentecostal Jehovah Jireh, inappropriately touched a 7-year-old who attended church services, said a report filed Oct. 19. Another alleged victim came forward Nov. 16 and told police that Norberto-Guerroro touched him sexually on multiple occasions. Source: WYFF, 11-25-20

Venkataramanappa, 68, Chickballapur, India: Sexual assault. The Hindu priest is accused of raping a 10-year-old girl after luring her into his house next to the temple with promises of snacks. “The girl was taken to a hospital for a medical examination where doctors confirmed that she was raped,” a senior police officer said. Source: The Hindu, 11-25-20

Jason Carpintero, 51, Salisbury, NC: 5 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and indecent liberties with children. Carpintero, a high school teacher’s aide with ties to several churches, is suspected of crimes against at least 2 children not from the school.

Carpintero’s résumé says he received a divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2008 and that he was a pastor at 5 Methodist parishes from 2000–08. The United Methodist Church’s online directory confirms several of those pastoral appointments as well as several more at other churches. Source: Daily Independent, 11-24-20

Ronnie Upshaw, Gainesville, FL: Obstruction without violence, breach of the peace and breaching a county noise ordinance. Upshaw, pastor at Church of God the Bibleway, was arrested after police received noise complaints from apartment residents about loud music and preaching.

After refusing to stop, Upshaw is heard in a video saying, “Come on take me to jail, I’m ready to go. Jesus is the savior, Jesus is lord, Jesus is Christ, Jesus is a hero.” Source: WCJB, 11-23-20

Jacob Ouellette, 24, N. Myrtle Beach, SC: 2 counts of criminal solicitation of a minor. “I regret to have to inform you that Jacob Ouellette, director of youth ministry at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church and former employee at Holy Trinity Catholic School, has been arrested in connection with a multi-jurisdictional investigation targeting sexual exploitation of minors via the internet,” said a church statement.

He also volunteered at St. Andrew Catholic School for several months in 2019. Source: WBTW, 11-23-20

Andrey Kovalenko, 52, Bedford, OH: 10 counts of mail fraud. Kovalenko served as a priest at the Shrine of Mariapoch in Burton, St. John Byzantine Catholic Church in Solon and St. Eugene Byzantine Catholic Church in Bedford. The parishes are part of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma. He is a native Russian who emigrated to the U.S. in 1996.

He is accused of looting the churches’ accounts of nearly $399,000 from May 2014 through July 2018. Source: Plain Dealer, 11-21-20

Isaiah J. Thompson, 37, Ft. Smith, AR: 2 counts of rape of a minor under 14 years old. Thompson is accused of assaulting 2 male minors when he was a youth ministry volunteer.

One man alleged he was sexually involved with Thompson from the time he was 7 and Thompson was about 17 and that the abuse occurred for over 15 years. Another man who attended the church as a child alleged Thompson started molesting him when he was 12.

Thompson was affiliated pastorally with Christ for the World Pentecostal Church and Bobby Hogan Ministries until he was fired in 2018. Source: KARK, 11-20-20

Angela J. Wagner, 50, Elm Mott, TX: Theft of more than $150,000 but less than $300,000. Wagner, secretary/treasurer since 2013 at First Baptist Church, allegedly stole over $173,000 by using the church debit card for personal expenses.

Her attorney, Rod Goble, said Wagner is “very sorry for her actions” that started in February 2017, adding that she has cooperated with authorities from the start. Source: Tribune-Herald, 11-19-20

Shepard Bushiri, Pretoria, S. Africa: Money laundering, theft and fraud. Bushiri, founder of a church called the Enlightened Christian Gathering, was arrested in his native Malawi along with his wife and 2 others on charges involving alleged fraud totaling $6.6 million.

He claims to be able to cure HIV and blindness with “miracle oil” and promises to deliver his thousands of followers from poverty. Authorities in Botswana shut down his church. Source: BBC, 11-16-20

A prominent rabbi from central Israel was arrested for allegedly molesting several of his students. Two complaints have been filed against the rabbi, whose identity remains under embargo. Police are investigating if there are others wary of coming forward.

The rabbi denies the allegations. Followers claim it is the work of a rival Haredi rabbi. Source: Israel Hayom, 11-15-20

George Swain, 71, Boston: Rape of a child and indecent assault and battery of a child under the age of 14. Swain is pastor at Greater Victory Temple, a Pentecostal church.

“During the timeframe of 1997 to 2004, the defendant is charged with sexually assaulting these three children at the time repeatedly and over years,” said prosecutor Audrey Mark. “He also provided them money.” Source: WCBV, 11-14-20

Anthony Laterza, 70, Lakehurst, NJ: 3 counts of possession of child pornography. Laterza served as a deacon at St. John’s Catholic Church in 2019. A forensic review of electronic devices seized from his home revealed apparent images of child pornography, said prosecutor Bradley Billhimer. Source: Manchester Patch, 11-12-20

Codie Malesker, Hastings, NE: 5 counts of mail and wire fraud. The indictment alleges Malesker used his employment as an insurance agent, construction company partner and as a pastor and board member at Faith Community Tabernacle to file fraudulent claims of over $107,000 from 2013–17 and collect the proceeds.

The church website lists him as administrator, sound manager, Praise Team member and bass guitar player: “Bro. Malesker assists the church in all business aspects of the church. He also preaches.” Source: Journal-Star, 11-10-20

Johnny Monderen, 49, Colorado Springs, CO: Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, sexual exploitation of a child, misdemeanor menacing and unlawful display of sexually explicit matter.

Monderen, pastor at Church of the Son, is accused of assaults over a period of 3 years starting in 2017. It’s alleged assaults occurred after he would enter the child’s room when everyone was asleep and force the child to drink wine and beer. Source: KRDO, 11-2-20

Todd A. Foster, 52, McComb, MS: Carnal knowledge of a juvenile while he was a teacher and basketball coach in 2007 at Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, LA. Foster and his wife were pastors at The Well church in McComb before announcing in October they would be taking a sabbatical to “allow them a time of rest.”

Sara Gray-Foreman, Foster’s accuser, is a former Christian Life student who alleges he assaulted her at his home when she was 16. She told deputies she decided to report the incident because she learned he was leading The Well and feared what might happen to other children. Source: The Advocate, 11-2-20

Kevin F. Hite, 54, Radford, VA: Taking indecent liberties with a minor and 10 counts of unlawful carnal knowledge of a child aged 13 or 14. Hite, a church deacon and office administrator at HeartCry Missionary Society, allegedly had a sexual relationship with a girl, who is now a young adult, “over an extended period of time, beginning when the child was 13 years old.”

A search warrant alleges Hite admitted when interviewed by police that he and the girl exchanged nude photos, that he reserved a motel room for them and bought her a cellphone and paid for its service. Source: Roanoke Times, 11-1-20

Sean Higgins, 30, Palmyra, NJ: 28 criminal counts, including aggravated sexual assault and manufacturing child pornography. Higgins, youth pastor and music leader at Harbor Baptist Church and a teacher at Harbor Baptist Academy, is accused of posing as a teen girl named “Julie Miller” to trick unsuspecting boys on Snapchat and Instagram.

“When a boy would send a nude photo of himself, Higgins would instantly transform and warn the child, ‘I’ve got you,’ and threaten to circulate that photo if the child did not engage in additional sexual acts on camera for Higgins’s sick gratification,” prosecutor Scott Coffina said. Source: nj105.com, 10-30-20

Jarod Mills, 33, New Castle, OH: Importuning [requesting sexual services] and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Mills, pastor at Clifton Flats Alliance Church and an instructor at Butler County Community College, was among dozens of men arrested in a statewide anti-human trafficking operation.

The operation led to 109 victims being rescued and referred to social surfaces. Source: WKBN, 10-26-20

Edward Lilly, 70, Boothwyn, PA: 10 counts each of child pornography possession and depicting a minor child engaging in or simulating a prohibited sexual act and misdemeanor corruption of a minor. Lilly is pastor at the Christian Church of Chester, formerly White Rock Christian Church.

The alleged victim told police that in 2017 when she was 16, Lilly started to flirt with her at the market where she worked and that they began having sex after she turned 17. Lilly recorded the encounters on his cellphone. Source: Haverford Patch, 10-26-20

Pleaded / Convicted

Robert Shiflet, 50, Denton, TX: Pleaded guilty in federal court in Little Rock, AR, to 2 counts of transporting minors across state lines for unlawful sexual activity. Shiflet worked in Denton Bible Church youth ministry programs from 1995 to 2001.

According to the prosecutor, Shiflet assaulted a 15-year-old girl in 1997 on a church camping trip to the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. He also pleaded guilty to multiple assaults on a different girl in 2002–03 while working as a youth pastor in Little Rock. Source: Arkansas Times, 11-30-20

Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, 62, Richmond, TX: Pleaded guilty to 2 counts of indecency with a child. A plea bargain calls for him to serve 10 years in prison. La Rosa-Lopez admitted molesting a girl and a boy while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Prosecutors said victims reported the abuse to church officials at the time but the allegations were never relayed to law enforcement. Source: KHOU, 11-17-20

Randolph Brown, 65, Cleveland: Pleaded guilty to 2 counts of compelling prostitution and was labeled a Tier II sex offender. Brown, pastor at Inner-City Missionary Baptist Church, was arrested in February 2020 in a sting targeting trafficking of underage girls who had run away from home. Source: WOIO, 11-12-20

Kent R.E. Whitney, 38, Newport Beach, CA: Pleaded guilty to mail fraud and filing a false federal income tax return. He used his Church of the Healthy Self in Westminster in a scam that took in $33 million and sent bogus reports to investors, prosecutors said.

He admitted to reporting his income in 2018 as $17,539 when it was actually at least $452,872. About $435,000 of that income came from the scam. Source: OC Register, 11-6-20

John Allen, 76, W. Manchester Township, PA: Pleaded guilty to indecent assault and corruption of minors for assaulting 2 altar boys between 1997 and 2002 when he was pastor at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook.

A plea bargain calls for him to serve 5 years’ probation. A state grand jury in 2018 identified Allen as one of 301 “predator priests.” The Diocese of Harrisburg expressed concern about his “sexual behavior” as far back as 1970. Source: York Daily Record, 11-5-20

Thomas Humphrey, 79, N. Amityville, NY: Guilty by jury of forcible touching. Humphrey, pastor at Hollywood Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral, was accused of sexual touching by a woman who worked with him producing a radio show on multiple occasions between April and September 2018. Source: Amityville Record, 10-29-20

Sentenced

Marcin Garbacz, 42, Rapid City, SD: 7 years and 9 months in federal prison for convictions on 50 counts of wire fraud, 9 counts of money laundering, transportation of stolen money and 5 counts of filing a false tax return.

Garbacz was ordered to pay $258,696 in restitution to the IRS and 3 Catholic parishes he served as pastor. He was accused of stealing from parish collections for several years and was arrested in May 2019 at the Seattle airport with a one-way ticket to his native Poland and more than $10,000 in cash.

At sentencing, he apologized to parishioners and said he was angry with Catholic doctrine that considers homosexuality to be “intrinsically disordered.” He identifies as gay.

He still faces federal charges of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and receipt of child pornography. The indictment alleges he traveled abroad in 2011 to engage in sexual conduct with someone under age 18. Source: KEVN, 11-23-20

Tobias Tissen, Sarto, Manitoba: Fines of $1,296 on each of 2 convictions for violating COVID-19 restrictions. Tissen, pastor at the Church of God, said he felt “honored” to be fined “for doing something that God wants me to do.”

The church itself was fined $5,000 and 5 others were given individual tickets of $1,296 after the church tried to hold a large drive-in service. They were blocked by Mounties, which led to over 100 cars lined up trying to get into the parking lot.

Fines totaling $180,000 were issued to people and businesses throughout the province for breaking public health orders. The area in the vicinity of the Church of God has a COVID test positivity rate of 40%, among the highest in North America. Source: CBC, 11-23-20

Timothy J. Hallows, 62, Kaysville, UT: 46 months in prison with credit for 13 months already served in jail after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. He admitted having images on his phone of prepubescent children being sexually assaulted by adults and sending them to a woman in the Philippines in November 2019.

Hallows, a father of 5, was bishop of the Wellington Ward in the Kaysville Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when arrested. A probable cause statement said Skype filed a complaint about a user who shared child sexual exploitation materials. The user’s screen name was “timhallows.”

Investigators found files containing videos and photos showing nude or partially clothed prepubescent girls, some of whom posed with nude adult males. Source: KSL, 11-18-20

Mona McGrady, 62, Sonora, CA: 4 years and 4 months in prison after being found guilty by jury of sexual penetration with a foreign object and 2 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child aged 14 or 15. McGrady, former volleyball coach and sports coordinator at Mother Lode Christian School, was acquitted on 8 similar counts.

In lengthy testimony, she denied molesting 2 students between 1995–97 and said she has never been gay. Tom McGrady, her husband of 36 years who also taught at Mother Lode, testified for the defense. “Jane Doe 2” testified but her allegations fell outside the statute of limitations. Source: Union Democrat, 11-17-20

Bret Welty, 49, Boise, ID: 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a child younger than 16. Welty, pastor at Hard Rock Revival Church, was accused of assaulting a 15-year-old girl in August 2019.

The girl was staying with Welty’s family for the weekend, as the “family believed that spending time at the pastor’s home would be helpful” because of anxiety and family problems she was having, prosecutors said. Welty had her undress and touched her sexually for between 30 and 60 minutes, only stopping when his wife knocked on the bedroom door. They’re now divorced.

Welty admitted having “struggled with such behaviors before” but never with someone as young as the victim, court documents said. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribune, 10-28-20

Edward S. Thompson, 40, Eugene, OR: 125 years in prison for convictions on 4 counts of rape, 5 counts of sex abuse and 1 count of sodomy. When arrested in 2018, he was a music ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church and former member of the Eugene Faith Center.

The female victim, under age 12, told a counselor that Thompson molested her while babysitting for “as long as [she] could remember.” The affidavit stated the abuse occurred between 2012–18. Source: Register-Guard, 10-17-20

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, is being sued by a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by 2 nuns when she was 8 in 1969 and in 1971 by a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish and School in Montclair. William Dowd, the priest, lives now in Brick and was removed from ministry nearly 2 decades ago before being reinstated in 2007 after a church trial. The archdiocese settled a suit last October filed by a man alleging Dowd molested him as a child. Dowd is chaplain for the New York Giants NFL franchise.

John Baldante, attorney for plaintiff Mary Joy Morgan, said she told a therapist about the abuse years ago and in 2018 reported it to a priest at the Montclair parish, now called St. Teresa of Calcutta.

The suit accuses Sr. Maria Michael Garner, a teacher and administrator at Immaculate Conception Elementary School, of abusing Morgan several times a week starting in 1969 and Sr. Alice Bernadette, of helping restrain her for Dowd in 1971. Both nuns are dead.

Dowd’s abuse continued until 1975, when Morgan transferred to another school, it’s alleged. Source: northjersey.com, 11-30-20

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, NY, and 3 bishops have been sued by the state Attorney General’s Office for cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. The state will try to use civil laws governing religious charities and their fiduciaries to prove the diocese failed to follow policies enacted in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The suit seeks restitution and institutional changes and a ban on former bishops Richard Malone and Edward Grosz from management roles in any charitable organization.

Attorney General Letitia James alleges the men used bureaucratic maneuvers to shelter more than 2 dozen priests accused of harming children. Edward Scharfenberger is named as a defendant in his capacity as current interim administrator of the diocese. Source: NY Times, 11-22-20

The Vatican’s Holy See is being sued by 4 plaintiffs, “JA Doe 50-53,” men who allege sexual abuse by defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. One plaintiff is a priest. Plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson said it’s the first time an active clergy member has sued the Holy See regarding abuse.

Three of the plaintiffs were parishioners who allege McCarrick, 90, abused them as youths in the 1980s. The priest alleges McCarrick assaulted him at a beach house in New Jersey in the 1990s and that a fellow priest told him to forget what happened “for the good of the church.” Source: WNBC, 11-20-20

Concordia Preparatory School (formerly Baltimore Lutheran School) in Towson, MD, and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are being sued by a former student who alleges her reports of male student-athletes sexually assaulting and harassing her on campus in 2017–18 were ignored. Three similar suits were filed recently.

The plaintiff alleges as a freshman she was “cat-called” in hallways by males expressing a desire to have sex and that once she was lifted up with her legs pinned while she was grabbed and struck on her backside and thighs.

The girl later reported the assault to the headmaster, the dean of students and a guidance counselor, but no action was taken, according to the suit. The girl’s boyfriend, a Concordia alumnus, also wrote several emails to school officials calling for action on her behalf.

At least half a dozen female students met with administrators to report harassment, the suit alleges. The plaintiff later transferred to another school. Source: Baltimore Sun, 11-13-20

Civil Lawsuits Settled

Miracle Meadows School in Salem, W.VA, settled claims with 29 former students for $51.9 million. The claimants alleged to have suffered mental, sexual, and physical abuse by adults who ran the Christian boarding school founded in 1987 for at-risk and learning-disabled youth. It was shut down by the state in 2014.

School founder Susan Gayle Clark and the Seventh-day Adventist Church-North American Division were among the 14 defendants in the original suits filed in 2017. Clark pleaded guilty to child neglect, failure to report and obstruction of justice and received 6 months in jail and 5 years’ probation.

“The abuse suffered by these children would shock the conscience of any West Virginian,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jesse Forbes. “They were stripped naked, handcuffed, sexually abused and kept in a 5-by-8-foot room with a coffee can for a toilet. This is the stuff straight from a horror movie.”

Although authorities mounted investigations as far back as 1999, it was hard to bring them to a conclusion since alleged perpetrators often came to the school on work visas and would be sent back to their home countries before they could be questioned. A state Supreme Court ruling in 2000 also limited officials’ access to medical records and their ability to interview students. Source: WV News, 11-12-20

Joseph Stone, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Starkville, MS, and head deacon Terry Miller were found liable by a civil trial jury for over $500,000 in damages in connection with a failed construction project that started in 2015.

The jury found that Stone and Miller conspired with the contractor and that Stone likely took kickbacks from the contractor, Donald Crowther, who has pleaded guilty to fraud. Source: WCBI, 11-4-20

Finances

The Catholic Diocese of Scranton, PA, paid $24.46 million to 213 survivors of sexual abuse through its Independent Survivors Compensation Program, now closed. Eleven offers were rejected by claimants, 25 offers remain outstanding and 46 were determined ineligible.

Accepting an offer means forfeiting the right to sue. The program was primarily funded by the sale of the diocese’s 3 long-term care facilities, which sold for about $26 million. Source: Diocese of Scranton, 10-29-20

Legal Developments

The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments in a case alleging 4 male elders of a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Roy forced a 15-year-old girl to listen to a recording of a man raping her in 2008. Lower courts found the church was not liable under 1st Amendment protections.

The woman sued the elders, the church and its national organization, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, in 2016, alleging she cried, shook visibly and pleaded for them to stop as they played the recording intermittently for at least 4 hours in 2008.

She alleges she was 14 when the pepetrator, a fellow Jehovah’s Witness, 18, bullied her increasingly and began sexually assaulting her in 2007. She gave the congregation’s leaders a recording of one instance. The church tribunal’s goal was to extract a confession that she had voluntarily engaged in sex outside marriage, her attorneys contend.

“The allegation here is a mental and emotional equivalent of waterboarding,” Justice Deno Himonas said. “I’ve been a judge for a long time and a lawyer for a long time. I’ve never seen, in court, anything like this that’s alleged.”

Church lawyer Kara Porter argued that the tribunal was trying to determine if the girl had sinned, a process the government isn’t permitted to meddle in. Church attorneys previously said the teen could have walked out of the meeting with her parents. Source: Deseret News, 11-9-20

Roy N. Shoop, 55, Inola, OK, has now been accused of molestation by 5 girls in 3 states, all under age 16 and as young as 12, who make similar claims that they were working at Shoop’s farm or taking riding lessons from him when molested. Shoop is pastor at Cowboy Gatherin’ Church.

Sgt. Bo Williams of the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office said he believes all 5 were groomed. “Kidding and joking, subtle touches. Stuff like that. There were statements made that ‘Oh, that’s just Roy being handsy.’ ” Source: News on 6, 11-9-20

Allegations

The New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse is hearing from 23 people abused while in the care of the Catholic and Anglican churches and the Salvation Army. Frances Tagaloa, 52, testified she was sexually abused between ages 5 and 7 by Brother Bede Fitton, a Marist Brothers teacher.

“Brother Bede would be fondling me or would want me to take my pants off and stand me up on a table and get me to read books. I was not sure what else he was doing because I was reading a book.”

Tagaloa said she started processing what happened to her as a child when she was 17. “It just seemed strange to me that I had to go back to the Marist Brothers, to the very organization that allowed the abuse to happen. I had to go back to them to try and see if they would fix it or do anything about it, and it made me quite fearful.” Source: Radio New Zealand, 11-30-20

George W. Rutler, 75, a prominent New York City Catholic priest, author and host on the Eternal Word Television Network, is accused of forcible touching by a Bronx woman, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, who worked as an overnight security guard at his parish, St. Michael the Archangel in Manhattan.

She was on her second day of the job Nov. 4 when she alleges she saw him watching gay pornography on an office computer. Rutler’s weekly newsletter is carried by Church Militant, a right-wing Catholic website that rails against homosexuality. Gonzalez has shared an 18-second video with media of him watching the porn.

“He looked at me with a smile, looked away, and he put his hand inside his pants, and he was playing with himself,” Gonzalez alleged. When she tried to leave, she said, “He aggressively threw himself on me and grabbed me sexually, aggressively, and I was fighting him off of me.”

The Archdiocese of New York said in a statement that Rutler denies acting inappropriately but “has voluntarily stepped aside from the parish and is not currently serving as a priest.”

“[T]he NYPD takes sexual assault and rape cases extremely seriously,” said a police statement about its investigation of the allegation. Source: Daily Beast, 11-28-20

A Vatican investigation revealed how defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 90, rose through the Catholic hierarchy to become one of America’s most powerful prelates despite longstanding allegations of sexual misconduct that ultimately led to his downfall.

Pope John Paul II personally made the decision to appoint McCarrick,” the report said, despite receiving a letter from John O’Connor, the archbishop of New York, that summed up allegations that McCarrick engaged in sexual conduct with another priest in 1987, that he had committed pedophilia with his “nephews” and that he shared a bed with young adult men and seminarians.

“What is now known, through investigation undertaken for the preparation of the Report, is that three of the four American bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See regarding McCarrick’s sexual conduct with young adults,” a summary said. Source: NY Times, 11-10-20

State investigators have named 97 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children within Florida’s Catholic churches. Prosecutors set up a hotline for clergy sexual abuse in 2018 and received 260 tips.

Investigators concluded none of the 97 can be prosecuted because they are either dead or the statute of limitations has expired. The report also revealed 81 priests who were relocated to Florida after being credibly accused of sexual abuse in other parts of the country.

“I feel bad for the Florida victims of past church assaults,” said Eugene Rosenquest of the Florida chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Are they now left to twist in the wind?”

The report underscores the need for statute of limitation reform, he said, and for a “look back window” law like New York’s. Source: News 4 Jax, 11-9-20

Removed / Resigned

Francis “Frank” Lawlor, administrator of Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Pittsfield, MA, was placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Springfield. The leave is effective immediately “pending the outcome of a private legal matter,” said a post on the diocese’s website.

According to a police report, Lawlor was charged with open and gross lewdness after urinating outside a sandwich shop on May 10. He had been asked to leave the shop because he was not wearing a mask and following COVID-19 restrictions.

An employee told police that Lawlor was “spraying pee all over.” Lawlor admitted urinating on some bushes because he “couldn’t hold it any longer.” The case is still pending. Source: Berkshire Eagle, 11-16-20

Carl Lentz, 41, was terminated as lead pastor of Hillsong East Coast, a megachurch in Manhattan, NY. An email from Hillsong founding pastor Brian Houston cited “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”

The church also cut ties with his wife, Laura Lentz, 40, Hillsong co-pastor. Houston and his wife founded the original Hillsong in 1983 in Australia. It now has locations in 28 countries and, pre-pandemic, had an average 150,000 weekly attendees.

Carl Lentz famously baptized singer Justin Bieber in a bathtub at the Manhattan home of Knicks player Tyson Chandler in 2015.

Lentz’s former lover Ranin Karim, 34, a fashion designer and native of Palestine, detailed her alleged affair with him in a news interview: “We were obsessed with each other. He was like a drug to me. I was a drug to him.” Source: Religion News Service/NY Post, 11-10-20

Other

Joel Kolko, 74, a New York rabbi accused of molesting students at the yeshiva where he taught for years, died of COVID-19 while on a visit to Israel. Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn paid $2.1 million in 2016 to 2 former students who accused Kolko of sexual assault.

The boys were 6 at the time of the alleged abuse. The school is facing several more suits accusing Kolko of abuse. Source: JTA, 11-10-20

Paul Shanley, 89, a former Massachusetts Catholic priest who served 12 years in prison for raping a boy at a Newton church in the 1980s, died Oct. 28. A cause of death was not provided.

Shanley was a popular street priest who ministered to gay and troubled youths. Decades later, dozens of men came forward with abuse accusations. He was defrocked and moved to an apartment in Ware in 2017 after being released.

Shanley’s outing and conviction were partly attributable to the Boston Globe’s landmark 2002 investigation that raised questions about widespread abuse among clergy and whether Archdiocese of Boston officials had looked the other way. The reporting led to a Pulitzer Prize and the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.” Source: NBC Boston, 11-6-20

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