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

Black Collar Crime (March 2021)

Vol. 38 No. 02 March 2021
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Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Rogelio Vega, 50, Queens, NY: Attempted use of a child in a sexual performance, attempted criminal sexual act, attempted disseminating indecent material to a minor and attempted endangering the welfare of a child. Vega, a deacon at St. Sebastian Catholic Church since 2011, allegedly began using the app Grindr in July 2020 to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex who was actually a detective.

The married father of 4 allegedly asked for nude images, shared several photos of his genitals and set up a meeting. When Vega arrived, he flashed his headlights to identify himself and the officer climbed into the car and arrested him. Source: NY Post, 1-22-21

Toddrick Gordon, 50, Muncie, IN: Dealing in a narcotic drug, maintaining a common nuisance and 2 counts each of possession of meth and possession of a narcotic drug. During an interview, Gordon allegedly told a deputy he started selling meth and heroin after his longtime affiliation with a local church ended in 2018. He was community outreach pastor at Urban Light Community Church.

An affidavit said he sold drugs at his home on 4 dates in December. He was arrested in possession of a small amount of drugs and 10 syringes. Source: Star Press, 1-15-21

Jazmonique Strickland, 28, Kalamazoo, MI: 3 counts each of 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct and human trafficking of a minor and 2 counts of child sexual abusive activity. Her husband, Stricjavvar Strickland, 37, pastor of Second Baptist Church, was arraigned in September on 11 similar counts.

It’s alleged the pastor paid teen boys to have sex with his wife and to send him nude photos between 2015–18. She was pregnant with their 6th child when he was arraigned. Source: WOOD, 1-14-21

Victor Philip, 66, Norfolk, VA: 6 counts of indecent liberties against a minor (dates unspecified) when Philip was pastor at Norfolk Calvary Church of the Nazarene and chaplain at Lake Taylor Transitional Care.

Phil Fuller, superintendent of the Virginia District Church of the Nazarene, said he was shocked to learn of the arrest: “Victor Philip has not been an employee of the Norfolk Calvary Church of the Nazarene (or any Church of the Nazarene) since June 1, 2020, when he officially retired. The Norfolk Calvary Church became inactive in June 2020 due to lack of attendance, finances and involvement.” Source: WTKR, 1-12-21

Jakirul Islam Jakir, 50, Gohelapur Boria, Bangladesh: Rape. Jakir, imam of a local mosque, and 2 others are accused in a complaint filed by a 40-year-old widow who alleges she refused Jakir’s marriage proposal about 2 years ago.

Jakir is accused of raping her Nov. 10 and beating her 4 days later. The woman alleges she told 2 local officials, but they urged her to not press charges and to take the case to financial arbitration. Source: Dhaka Tribune, 1-12-21

John R. Griffin II, 73, Daytona Beach, FL: 30 counts of possession of photos of sexual performance by a child. Griffin, pastor at Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach and an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, allegedly had 251 pornographic images when arrested after a tip was received from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

Griffin asked his wife to forgive him as police led him away in handcuffs, the arrest report stated. Images on his iPad showed girls ages 3 to 7 and 9 to 14 engaged in sexual acts with men.

He had recently asked a state agency to license him and his wife as foster parents for children and infants, the arrest report said. Source: News-Journal, 1-8-21

Kisha L. Clayton, 36, Paragould, AR: 5 counts of rape of a minor. Detective Robert Sexton said text messages between Clayton and the minor showed evidence of a “long sexual history” between them but that it wasn’t clear if she met the alleged victim through her employment at Children’s Home Inc., a “Christ-centered” youth organization. Source: KATV, 1-7-21

David A. Walker, 46, and Anna Walker, 39, N. Ridgeville, OH: David Walker faces 7 counts of felony sexual battery and 1 misdemeanor count of sexual imposition. Anna Walker is charged with 2 counts of felony sexual battery.

The assaults allegedly occurred from May 2005 to December 2007 when David Walker was a youth pastor at Church Alive International in Cleveland and later at the Dwelling Place Family Worship Center in N. Olmsted. He was also a teacher and coach at the now-closed Cleveland Christian Academy.

The indictment alleges forced intercourse. Police said the female victim, now 30, was a member of the youth groups at both churches and a parishioner. Source: WJW, 1-6-21

Satya Narayan, 45, an Indian Hindu priest in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and 2 aides are accused of the fatal gang rape Jan. 3 of a married 50-year-old woman. Her son told reporters that the men dropped her off at home: “They said she fell into the dry well on the ashram premises. She was bleeding profusely and soon she died. Before we could ask anything, the three left.”

Narayan was found in a hut in a forest near his village after police received reports he was hiding there. An autopsy revealed the woman “had been brutalized,” said social activist Shafi Ahmed. Source: The Hindu, 1-6-21

Nikolai Romanov (aka Fr. Sergiy), was arrested for encouraging young people to commit suicide. The arrest may be related to a YouTube video in which he called on followers to die for Russia. An Orthodox priest, he was arrested at a convent he took over in June in the Urals.

The church excommunicated him in September for ignoring a ban on religious services during the coronavirus pandemic, which he calls a hoax. Source: Reuters, 12-29-20

Marcelo Crivella, 63, Rio de Janeiro: Corruption, defrauding public tenders, misappropriation of funds and money laundering. Crivella is a bishop in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, an evangelical church founded by his uncle in 1977. He’s also the outgoing mayor of Rio, a recording artist and author of Christian books.

Five associates were also charged in the alleged kickback scheme “that acted within City Hall since 2017,” said a statement from Rio’s public prosecutors’ office.

His book “Evangelizando a África” details the 10 years he spent as a missionary. He is widely considered as a preacher of the prosperity gospel. Source: AP, 12-22-20

William D. Milam, 62, Milton, FL: 2 counts of promoting sexual performance of a child and 25 counts of possession of child pornography. Milam, pastor at Olivet Baptist Church and a former Navy chaplain, possessed multiple devices containing child pornography that depicted children as young as 3 engaged in sex acts, the complaint said.

Milam was vocal during a 2016 campaign by municipalities to allow Sunday liquor sales. “There are a significant amount of people who appreciate that the streets of our city could be just a little safer with no Sunday sale of liquor,” he said then. Source: Pensacola News Journal, 12-14-20

Mark R. Hession, 62, Barnstable, MA: Indecent assault and battery on a child less than 14, intimidation of a witness and 2 counts of rape. It’s alleged Hession committed the crimes between 2005–08 when he was pastor at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Parish in Centerville.

In 2019 he allegedly used church money for personal expenses and sent inappropriate communications to several adult parishioners at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, where he was serving. He was then removed from active ministry.

In 2009 he delivered the homily at Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s funeral. He has served at 12 different parishes since his 1984 ordination. Source: Cape Cod Times, 12-14-20

Clifford Brower, 57, Linden, NJ: Sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Brower, a minister at Blessed Assurance Church, is accused of “various acts of sexual assault” on a 14-year-old girl in August 2019. Source: Daily Voice, 12-9-20

Zachary Crowley, 33, Taylorville, IL: 2 counts of felony grooming. Crowley is a student pastor at Taylorville Christian Church, athletic director at VisionWay Christian School and assistant football coach at Taylorville High School.

Police Chief Dwayne Wheeler said grooming is “basically trying to lure kids in for sexual acts with their phones and things like that. We had enough evidence to charge him with that. … Usually when this happens, you’ll have more victims that come forward.” Source: State Journal-Register, 12-8-20

Christopher C. Trimpe, 59, Crystal Lake, IL: Theft of over $10,000. Trimpe, who belongs to a religious order known as the Congregation of the Resurrection, was business manager until late 2019 for Resurrection Catholic Church in Woodstock, where he’s accused of misappropriating $34,977. Source: Northwest Herald, 12-5-20

William McCandless, 56, Wilmington, DE: Possessing child pornography for importation into the U.S., transporting child pornography in interstate and foreign commerce and attempting to access with intent to view child pornography. McCandless was pastor at St. Charles Catholic Parish and an adviser to Princess Charlene in the principality of Monaco from 2010–17 and principal from 2005–09 at Salesianum School in Wilmington, a high school operated by his religious order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.

He’s accused of amassing thousands of images of child pornography while working in Monaco and trying to access others after returning to the U.S. in 2017. The Oblates settled 39 suits against the order and Salesianum in 2011 for $24.8 million for abuse of minors from 1955–91. Source: Catholic News Service, 12-3-20

Pleaded / Convicted

William Metzger, 76, Baraboo, WI: Pleaded guilty to 1st-degree child sexual assault. Metzger, pastor at Open Door Baptist Church until March 2020, is accused of assaulting a girl multiple times between August 2016 and December 2018, starting when she was 6.

Metzger told police he only touched the girl twice and that she had tried “fondling herself” so he showed her how.

“I started feeling bad about this,” Metzger allegedly told police, after explaining that the girl’s parents had attended a bible study session where children were advised about adulthood and identifying sexual misconduct. Source: News Republic, 1-25-21

Rotem Cooper, 54, Poway, CA: Pleaded guilty to defrauding the government and his employer by claiming thousands of dollars in false donations. He’s the 8th person to plead guilty in connection with Yisroel Goldstein, a rabbi and director of Chabad of Poway.

In the scheme, Cooper donated $27,330 to a Chabad-affiliated charity, which his employer, the tech company Qualcomm, matched. Goldstein then secretly funneled 90% of the donation back to Cooper and split the Qualcomm funds with a person identified only as “Y.H.,” who had introduced them. Cooper then illegally claimed the entire donation as a tax deduction of $7,960.

In April 2019, a 19-year-old man fatally shot a woman and injured 3 others in an anti-Semitic attack in the synagogue’s foyer. Source: The Forward, 12-30-20

Joseph Quigley, 56, Stone, Staffordshire, UK: Guilty by jury of cruelty, 4 counts of sexual activity with a child and 2 counts each of sexual assault and false imprisonment. Quigley, the former national education adviser for Catholic schools, was accused of physical and sexual abuse of a boy while he was a parish priest in Warwickshire from 2002–08, when he was forced to resign.

He was sent for treatment to the U.S. before returning after 6 months and put on restricted duties.

Describing Quigley as a “sexual sadist and voyeur,” Judge Peter Cooke remanded him in custody while a report is prepared to assess the danger he poses in the future. “A lengthy prison sentence is inevitable,” Cooke said. Source: Coventry Telegraph, 12-5-20

Sentenced

Josue Rodriguez, 62, Jersey City, NJ: 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault. Rodriguez was a pastor and religion teacher at Temple Refugio. Both victims were students in his classes. The church is part of the Congregation of Yahweh, which combines elements of Judaism and Christianity.

Prosecutors said a girl was molested between the ages of 6 and 9. She told detectives that Rodriguez would touch her over and under her clothing and forced her to kiss him. The other victim was between 8 and 15. Source: AP, 1-25-21

Angelo Caloia, 81, longtime president of the Vatican bank (officially named the Institute for the Works of Religion), and his former lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo, 97, were found guilty by a Vatican court of embezzling millions of euros through shady real estate deals between 2002–07. They were sentenced to 8 years and 11 months in prison and ordered to pay the bank damages of over €20 million ($24 million).

Fabrizio Lemme, Liuzzo’s attorney, said it was unlikely that either would see the inside of a prison cell because of their ages. They were also fined €12,500 each. Source: NY Times, 1-21-21

Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, Houston: 6 years in prison, $125,000 fine and $3.5 million restitution after pleading guilty to wire fraud for a scheme hatched in 2013 when he was pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church. Caldwell and financial planner Gregory Smith lured investors into buying Chinese bonds that had no value and weren’t recognized by the current government.

The indictment said Caldwell “used religious references to give investors hope they would soon be repaid.” Caldwell rose to prominence as leader of the megachurch and confidant of former President George W. Bush. Source: NY Times, 1-14-21 

Adnan Oktar, 64, a Muslim televangelist and cult leader known in Turkey for holding theological discussions surrounded by glamorous women, was sentenced to 1,075 years in prison on 10 charges, including leading a criminal gang, engaging in political and military espionage, sexual abuse of minors, rape, blackmail and causing torment.

He was also charged with aiding a network led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt. Under the pen name Harun Yahya, he published a series of books promoting creationism over the theory of evolution. Source: AP, 1-11-21

Thomas Kottoor, 69, and Sister Sephy, 55, respectively a Catholic priest and nun, received life sentences after an Indian court found them guilty of murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence in the 1992 death of Sister Abhaya, 21. Her body was found in the well at St. Pius Convent in Kottayam district, Kerala.

Prosecutors alleged Abhaya discovered Kottoor and another nun in a compromising position and that he strangled her while Sephy beat her with an axe. Source: Indian Express, 12-23-20

Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, 62, Richmond, TX: 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to 2 counts of indecency with a child for molesting a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

He’ll have to serve at least 5 years. Prosecutors said victims reported the abuse to church officials at the time but the allegations were never relayed to law enforcement.

One victim, now a mother, told LaRosa-Lopez at sentencing, “I stand here proudly for all the children who will never have to meet you.” Source: KHOU, 12-16-20

Jonathan Chang, 64, Cupertino, CA: 4 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of several counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Chang, an elder responsible for managing finances at Home of Christ Christian Church in Saratoga, was also ordered to pay $11.7 million in restitution.

Between 2004 and 2016, Chang defrauded a wealthy donor and set up entities with names similar to the church, directing more than $6.7 million to his own organizations, according to federal authorities. His average annual salary was reported as $65,000 but he purchased millions of dollars in real property, owned a Mercedes and lived a luxurious life, prosecutors said. Source: San Jose Inside, 12-14-20

Sherman Smith, 74, Monterey, CA: 87 months in prison and $2.19 million restitution after pleading guilty to wire fraud. Smith, executive pastor of Sonrise Church in Clovis, “is a con man and a thief,” said U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd.

He defrauded investors by collecting cash, checks and rolled-over retirement accounts to fund church projects but used the money for personal expenses, to operate a publishing business and to invest in foreign ventures, prosecutors said.

Smith previously served 37 months in prison for securities fraud that caused a loss of over $5 million to 38 victims. Source: gvwire.com, 12-11-20

Craig McCulloch, 34, Manchester, UK: 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to 4 counts of fraud by abuse of position for stealing over $624,000 from a church, a charity and a college.

McCulloch stole from St. James Church in north London, the Anglican parish where he served as volunteer treasurer from 2013–18, from the children’s charity XLP and the Oasis College of Higher Education in Kennington. Detective Constable Mark Baker called him “one of the most devious individuals I have ever dealt with.” Source: BBC, 12-11-20

Nathan L. Rogers, 36, W. Seneca, NY: 6 months in jail and 5 years’ probation after pleading guilty to 2nd-degree unlawful surveillance. Rogers, part-time youth pastor at Life Church Buffalo, was arrested in August 2019 after an investigation determined he used 2 cellphones to video a girl changing clothes in his camper during Kingdom Bound, a 4-day Christian music festival. Source: Batavia Daily News, 12-10-20

Willie Wilkerson, 62, Dorchester, MA: 4 to 5 years in prison and 3 years’ probation after pleading guilty to trafficking and intent to distribute Class B and Class C drugs. Wilkerson, pastor at Mission Church, hid the drugs in his home, the church and a food trailer he owns, prosecutors said.

Investigators found 53 grams of cocaine, 45 oxycodone pills, 9 grams of fentanyl, 73 grams of Buprenorphine, 32 Clonozapam tablets, 45 methadone pills, 259 gabapentin tablets and 62 sildenafil pills. He was also charged with unlawful possession of ammunition. Source: WBTS, 12-10-20

Randolph Brown, 65, Cleveland: 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to 2 counts of compelling prostitution. Brown, pastor at Inner-City Missionary Baptist Church, was charged with paying or agreeing to pay 2 female minors, aged 16 and 13 at the time of the incidents, to engage in sexual activity in 2018.

Brown said he would appeal and claimed he engaged in inappropriate behavior because he was grieving: “I may not have grieved my father’s death properly. Losing both my parents months apart from each other was traumatic.” Source: ABC Cleveland, 12-10-20

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Catholic Parish of St. Padre Pio, Vineland, NJ, has been sued by a woman alleging sexual assault by Robert L. Sinatra, the church’s pastor. The plaintiff, 38, is a “parishioner and participant in church activities” who asserts Sinatra, 46, exploited his position of authority to engage in sexual contact with her.

Sinatra, in a January letter to parishioners, denied assault allegations but admitted having a “two-month affair with an unmarried woman” in 2018. “Although ending the relationship was difficult for me, it was obviously very difficult for her as well,” Sinatra wrote.

He said he has paid for her counseling since ending the affair, has blocked her phone number and her access to his social media accounts, while assuring Diocese of Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan that he won’t violate his vow of celibacy again.

Spokesman Michael Walsh said the diocese is reviewing the lawsuit “but at this time has no plans to remove Father Sinatra as pastor, as he refutes the accusation and there has never been any indication or report in his past of any abusive relationships in any element of his personal or public life.” Source: Vineland Daily Journal, 1-3-21

The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, NY, shouldn’t be eligible for insurance coverage to pay settlements with sexual abuse survivors, says a suit filed by Arrowood Indemnity Co., its insurer, because of “allegations of the Diocese’s long-standing specific knowledge of individual instances of abuse and its decades-long culture of coverup.”

Arrowood’s complaint names the diocese, over 30 parishes and schools and former priest Romano J. Ferraro, who is accused in over a dozen pending suits and is serving a life sentence in Massachusetts. Former priests Thomas O’Rourke, Vincent Sforza and James Sickler are the subjects of at least 14 suits.

Arrowood alleges the diocese has failed to provide copies of internal documents that would shed light on what it knew about allegations and what steps it took in response: “The information the Diocese has provided … is inappropriately redacted, contains large chronological gaps, and is missing numerous pages without explanation.” Source: Democrat & Chronicle, 12-29-20

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is alleged in 7 lawsuits filed by former Boy Scouts of covering up decades of sexual abuse in Arizona. The church “must be held accountable in order to bring healing and closure to Mormon victims of childhood sexual abuse,” said a statement from the plaintiffs’ law firm Hurley McKenna & Mertz.

It’s alleged that members of church-sponsored Boy Scout troops would reveal their abuse to bishops, who would then tell them to keep quiet so the church could conduct its own investigations. In the meantime, accused troop leaders and volunteers would be allowed to continue in their roles or be assigned to another troop.

The church sponsored at least 7 troops in metro Phoenix and Tucson. Source: AP, 12-8-20

Memorial High School in W. New York, NJ, St. Joseph’s of the Palisade Parish and the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark are being sued by “A.G.,” who was a 14-year-old freshman at Memorial in 1985 when he alleges he was first molested by Albert Sosa, a school counselor and church deacon.

It’s alleged Sosa showed him pornography, which escalated to kissing, oral sex and sodomy, which took place about 3 times a week for over 4 years, including at the church. Source: Jersey Journal, 12-8-20

Miroslaw Krol, a Catholic priest from Orchard Lake, MI, was sued for sexual harassment by 2 men alleging he pressured them for sex. Krol is chancellor of Orchard Lake Schools, which includes St. Mary’s prep school, a seminary and a Polish cultural center.

The men, one a priest and the other a lay staffer, are Polish natives who claim Krol recruited them in 2018 and then preyed on them. During a previous stint at Orchard Lake from 2006–11, it’s alleged Krol recruited seminarians from Poland and had sex with them in the rectory at Sweetest Heart of Mary Parish in Detroit.

Krol graduated from Immaculate Conception Seminary in New Jersey, where he studied under defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Source: Detroit Free Press, 12-14-20

“Jane Doe” filed a suit against Portsmouth Abbey School, Portsmouth, RI, and her former high school humanities teacher, Michael Bowen Smith, alleging he sexually abused her from 2012–14. “Grounded in the Catholic faith and 1,500-year old Benedictine intellectual tradition, the School fosters reverence for God and the human person,” its website says.

Smith started to flirt with her when she was a sophomore and he was in his mid-40s, then introduced sexual banter into their conversations and coerced her into sexual acts, it’s alleged, with abbey staff brushing aside her mother’s concerns before allowing Smith to “quietly resign.”

He went on to teach at Siena College, a Franciscan school in upstate New York, and started “a relentless pattern of harassment and cyber-stalking behavior against [her]” from 2015–17, the suit asserts. Source: Newport Daily News, 12-4-20

Civil Lawsuits Settled

The Catholic Diocese of Yakima, WA, settled a suit filed by “John Doe” in 2019 by agreeing to pay $5,000 for counseling in addition to $10,000 it had already paid. The settlement frees the diocese from any further claims regarding 3 allegedly abusive priests.

The plaintiff from Ellensburg, WA, alleged abuse occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s when he was between the ages of 10 and 18. The suit asserted Richard Scully, Peter Hagel and an unidentified priest repeatedly molested him at St. Andrew’s Church and and in a YMCA building the diocese previously used for services. Scully has been defrocked. Seamus Kerr, 91, an earlier defendant, was exonerated after the plaintiff recanted allegations against him. Source: Yakima Herald-News, 12-19-20

The Catholic Diocese of Speyer, Germany, paid a clergy abuse survivor, now age 63, €15,000 ($18,100) for assaults at a children’s home by Rudolf Motzenbäcker, a priest who died in 1998. During the 10 years that he lived there, nuns allegedly took him to the priest’s apartment once or twice a month.

The man estimated he’d been assaulted about 1,000 times. Other priests and politicians sometimes joined in, and nuns brought more boys and girls in to be victimized, he alleged.

“The nuns earned money from it. The men who were present would have donated generously,” he testified at a hearing on the abuse. Source: dw.com, 12-11-20

The Catholic Diocese of Oakland, CA, settled a suit for $3.5 million in which former seminarian “John Doe” accused Livermore priest Michael Van Dinh of raping him in 2017. The plaintiff, a 27-year-old Mexican immigrant, alleged Van Dinh lured him to the St. Michael’s Parish under the pretense of helping him land a job for a friend as a receptionist.

A search of Van Dinh’s living quarters turned up a meth pipe, sex toys and condoms, according to the police report. He hasn’t been criminally charged. In a statement, the diocese said Van Dinh remains on leave and continues to receive compensation.

Attorney Sandra Ribera-Speed said her client settled under pressure because the diocese “was essentially threatening to depose his parents and … he didn’t want to tell his parents about the sexual abuse he experienced.” Source: NBC Bay Area, 12-8-20

The Archdiocese of Chicago agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a suit filed by a man alleging abuse by Daniel McCormack, a defrocked priest imprisoned for sexual assaults on several boys. The plaintiff attended a Catholic elementary school in Chicago in the early 2000s.

The archdiocese has paid $11 million to settle suits alleging abuse by McCormack. A judge in 2018 found him to be “sexually violent” and ordered the state to hold him in custody indefinitely. Source: AP, 12-3-20

Finances

The Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud had its Chapter 11 reorganization plan approved by the Minnesota Bankruptcy Court. The plan provides for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The funds include $14 million in insurance settlements, $5.25 million in property sales and $3.25 million in contributions from parishes and a line of credit. The plan also includes non-monetary protocols for the protection of children. Source: St. Cloud Times, 12-4-20

The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia sold the St. John Vianney Center, a behavioral health facility founded in 1946 in Downingtown, PA, where priests accused of sexual abuse are sometimes sent for treatment.

In exchange for its independence as a 50-bed nonprofit psychiatric hospital, the center paid the archdiocese $12 million. A 2018 state grand jury report sharply criticized the center and similar ones in Maryland and New Mexico for doing a shoddy job of protecting children: “Put plainly, these institutions laundered accused priests, provided plausible deniability to the bishops, and permitted hundreds of known offenders to return to ministry.”

The archdiocese as of Nov. 18 had settled 319 claims for $60.9 million through its victim compensation program. Source: Philly Inquirer, 12-3-20

Legal Developments

Jack Schaap, 63, Hammond, IN, a Baptist pastor serving a 12-year federal sentence since 2013 for taking a 16-year-old girl he was counseling across state lines to have sex in Michigan and Illinois, has asked a judge for early release to care for his parents, whose health is failing.

After being charged, he blamed the girl’s “aggressiveness” for inhibiting his “impulse control” and leading him into sex. His scheduled release date to a halfway house is Feb. 2, 2023. Source: nwitimes, 1-29-21

Errol Victor Sr., 54, an evangelical pastor who fled to Georgia from Louisiana after a jury voted 10–2 in 2014 to convict him, is running as a Republican for Congress as he awaits retrial on a murder charge. He would replace a Louisiana congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 complications before he could take office.

Victor was charged with murder in 2008 after the death of his 8-year-old stepson. His wife Tonya Victor was also charged but both fled before their arrest in Georgia in 2012 after being profiled on “America’s Most Wanted.” They told people there they were trying to plant a church.

Tonya Victor was found guilty of manslaughter in 2014 by a unanimous jury. Errol Victor was found guilty of 2nd-degree murder but on a split 10–2 vote. After he spent nearly 6 years in prison, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled non-unanimous juries were unconstitutional, vacated the pastor’s conviction and sent the case back to state court, where it’s pending.

The Victors’ blended family includes 13 boys, 2 of which they had together after marrying. Source: WWL, 1-21-21

Stalking and intimidation civil suits brought by 4 women accusing TV actor Danny Masterson of rape must go through mediation within the Church of Scientology, a Los Angeles judge ruled.

The suits were filed by former Scientologists who signed a contract letting the church resolve “any dispute, claim or controversy” through internal arbitration. Another woman, who was not a Scientologist, will have her civil case heard in court. Criminal charges against Masterson on 3 counts of rape between 2001–03 aren’t affected by the ruling.

Journalist Tony Ortega summarized the ruling: Scientology has once again derailed a major lawsuit through its contracts, which former top officials have testified were designed to deny members justice. Source: Reuters, 12-31-20

William Wasmus, 64, a Grove City, OH, evangelical pastor who conducted services on public access TV and was sentenced to 220 years in prison for child rape in 1994, had his petition for parole denied by a state board. He has served the required minimum of 15 years.

Former church member Dave Wexler opposed his release. He and his ex-wife, who later married Wasmus, discovered pornographic images and videos of children Wasmus had been molesting and turned them over to police. He can request early release once every 5 years. Source: WCMH, 12-7-20

Allegations

Widespread abuses at 14 Irish Catholic and 4 county-run homes for unwed mothers and their children between 1922–98 resulted in over 9,000 deaths, said a government report detailing a 6-year investigation. The institutions, where women and girls were sent to give birth and pressured to give their children up for adoption, were also responsible for unethical vaccine trials and traumatic emotional abuse, the 3,000-page report said.

The commission was set up after the remains of nearly 800 children were found interred in an unmarked mass grave at a home run by nuns in County Galway. The report said about 56,000 mothers and 57,000 children were housed in the homes nationwide until the last one closed in 1998. Source: NY Times, 1-12-21

Faith-based institutions in New Zealand and those run by the state were responsible for the abuse of about 250,000 children between 1950–2019, said a report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry. That’s about 40% of the 655,000 people in care during that period.

Abuse included physical and sexual assaults — with staff in some psychiatric institutions forcing male patients to rape female patients — improper and needlessly invasive medical procedures, racial slurs and verbal abuse.

The report said the likelihood of children abused in faith-based or religious homes ranged from 21% to 42% and that indigenous Māori children probably suffered the most. The Catholic Church of New Zealand said in a statement that it would study the report to learn how to better deal with complaints and prevent abuse.

Some faith-based institutions sought to “cleanse” cultural identity from Māori people through sexual and physical abuse, the report said. Source: Reuters, 12-16-20

Sexual abuse by Colorado Catholic clergy involved 9 diocesan priests with “substantiated” allegations involving 70 more underage victims in addition to 43 abusers identified in a 2019 report.

The most prominent priest named in the new report is Charles Woodrich, known as “Father Woody,” who died in 1991. The Denver Catholic Register, which he had served as editor, called him “Denver’s patron saint of the hungry and homeless.” Source: Catholic News Agency, 12-2-20

Removed / Resigned

John Zuhlsdorf, a Catholic priest from the Italian Diocese of Velletri-Segni, will leave the Diocese of Madison, WI, where he has served since 2014 as president of the Tridentine Mass Society of Madison, an association to preserve the Latin Mass.

Zuhlsdorf has been a strong critic of Pope Francis and publicly sympathetic to much of former President Trump’s agenda. He wrote on a recent blog, “There is a Catholic antifa now. They are feeling their ascendancy and they are applying it. We will see more persecution leveled at anyone who strays from their demands.”

During YouTube livestreams before the Jan. 6 certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win, Zuhlsdorf held exorcisms to drive away what he said were demonic influences to steal the election.

A statement sent to Diocese of Madison priests said he will relocate to “pursue other opportunities” and noted it was a mutual decision between Zuhlsdorf and Bishop Donald Hying. Source: WKOW, 1-19-21

Email: [email protected]