Sunday, September 25, 2005


Weekly church-related crime update, September 18- 24

  • Carlton Kneeland, pastor of Greater Emmanuel Christian Assembly in Memphis, was arrested and charged with obtaining money by false pretenses after Olive Branch, Mississippi police said he wrote checks totaling eleven-thousand-dollars on a closed bank account, reported WVLT-TV.

  • Donald Buzanowski, a priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Green Bay, Wisc., was sentenced to 21 years in prison for sexually assaulting a ten-year old student at the school. Buzanowski had previously been convicted on a child porongraphy charge, and has admitted to molesting 14 boys.

  • Gene Francis, the pastor at the Church of the Nazarene in Lake Wales, Florida who had been charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a 17-year-old boy, accepted a plea bargain in which he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to one year probation.

  • The Mississippi Supreme Court blocked the immediate release of United Methodist Church documents to a woman who had filed a $10 million lawsuit against a minister who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her. The court ruled that a lower court must first review the documents, removing those that are protected by priest-penitent privilege. The case revolves around Jeffrey Stallworth, pastor of Anderson United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, who had pleaded guilty to sexually assualting the woman.

  • Mary Elizabeth Miller, a former student at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was sentenced to nine months in jail for hit-and-run. She had run over a woman on the Lynchburg Expressway and left the scene.

  • Earl D. Cooper, an ordained minister in Lexington, Oklahoma who had been sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting his wife and mother-in-law in front of his daughter, has been recommended for early release by the state state Pardon and Parole Board, reported the Oklahoman. Cooper had previously been additionally convicted of assault and battery four times.

  • Sam Roundy, a former Colorado City, Arizona Police chief who is an admitted polygamist, having fathered 21 children with three women, told state police investigators that he that he "failed to notify state authorities about the 20 to 25 child sexual abuse cases he's investigated over the years in Colorado City and Hildale, Utah," reported KPHO News. "Most of the residents of Colorado City and Hildale are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which preaches polygamy as a central tenet."

  • "The leaders of the Philadelphia Archdiocese — including two former archbishops — actively concealed sexual abuse by priests for decades, but no criminal charges can be brought against the church or its priests because of the constraints of state law, according to grand jury findings," reported the Allentown Morning Call.

  • William Mueller, a priest at Vianney High School in Kirkwood, Missouri, was sued by a man who said that Mueller sexually assaulted him at knifepoint when he, the plaintiff, was 15 years old and a student at the school. Mueller was previously sued by two men in Colorado who say Mueller sexually abused them after he knocked them out with ether.

  • The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) urged "Bishop Robert Finn and a Boy Scout headquarters in St. Joseph to remove the name of the late Rev. Sylvester Hoppe from the chapel at Camp Geiger in St. Joseph," reported the Kansas City Star. "In the last three years, three men have filed lawsuits against the diocese claiming that Hoppe sexually abused them in the 1950s. The diocese settled one lawsuit for $10,000; the other two are still pending."

  • Peter Cheplic, a priest at St. Matthew's Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, resigned after two men have accused him of abusing them as teenagers.

  • Andrew Burke, "a former Catholic priest who was under investigation for molesting a teenage boy in the early 1970s committed suicide Wednesday by shooting himself in the heart," reported the Pueblo [Colorado] Chieftan.

  • Jack F. Emerick, former pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Harrison, Pennsylvania, was sentenced "to 13 months in prison on tax fraud charges in connection with money he is accused of stealing from a longtime church member," reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Emerick had resigned from the church after allegations had been made that he had molested a boy and two men in the 1970s and 1980s.

  • Jack Ruff, the senior pastor at the Praise Tabernacle Church in Charlotte County, Florida who was the subject of arrest warrants charging him with defrauding dozens of Hurricane Charley victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, was captured in Livingston, Montana, where he was allegedly posing as a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from Louisiana.

  • William Killeen, the pastor at St. Christopher Church in Midlothian, Ill. who was transfered to Infant Jesus of Prague Church in Flossmoor, Ill., is under investiagation for missing funds at both churches, the Chicago Star reported.

  • Charles Hill, pastor at St. Mark Ame Church in Clermont, Florida, was arrested for cashing tens of thousands of dollars in fake checks, reported WFTV News. Police said Hill "used fake checks to buy appliances, open bank accounts and even buy a car. Detectives said, in one instance, Hill deposited an $80,000 check at Bank of America and opened an account. Then, before anyone suspected the checks were fake, he bought a car at Chrysler. Detectives said Hill did the same thing at Rent Way. He walked in with a fake cashier check and bought merchandise and then pocketed the extra money... He apparently lived in a house rent-free. Hill was evicted after writing fake checks."

  • William J. Hogan, youth pastor at West Valley Foursquare Church in Yakima, Washington, was given a 41-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree child molestation and third-degree child rape in a case involving a 13-year-old girl he met at the church. The girl went to police, saying Hogan was was "grooming another girl at church."

  • Nathaniel Rasberry, pastor of World Vision Outreach Center in Wilson, N.C, was arrested on charges of incest of a child, parental sex offense, 19 counts of statutory rape, felony child abuse and nine counts of assault and inflicting serious injury.

  • Harry Monroe, a priest at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Indianapolis, was named in a sexual abuse lawsuit along with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Monroe had earlier been named in another lawsuit, which claimed the priest molested a teenage boy at St. Andrew Catholic School. Monroe had been "relieved of ministry" in 1984 because of allegations of sexual misconduct, and both lawsuits claim the diocese should have known about Monroe's behavior and protected the children under his care.

  • Joseph Cogo, pastor of Our Lady of Pompei Church in New york, was accused of rape by a woman who had saught him out for spiritual guidance in the 1970s, reported the Villager.

  • Officials at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas, sent letters to alumni of the school notifying them of three sexual abuse lawsuits filed against former Brother William Mueller, who worked at the school from 1971 to 1981.

  • Ron Clark, the former pastor of Church of the Living Water, a "megachurch" in Tampa, Florida, has become a police officer with the city of Zephyrhills, reported the Tampa Tribune. Clark became the center of controversy at the church in 2003, when

    the church unraveled as Clark and his wife, Belinda, became embroiled in a bitter divorce. The proceedings brought to light the church's hefty assets -- as well as the assets of the Clarks. The pair each drew salaries of $70,000 and owned a $500,000 horse farm in Dade City and a $275,000 rental home in Celebration, near Orlando, the case revealed. Although the Clarks never were charged with illegal activity, the information from their divorce case disillusioned the congregation's almost 2,000 members. By October 2003, the church filed for bankruptcy.

  • Tracy Hash, a former singer with the gospel foursome The Spiritual Seven, was found guilty of molesting a 9-year-old girl in Bedford, Virginia.

  • Efford Haynes, a trustee of Christ Community Church in Seneca, South Carolina, was ordered by a court to pay $9,850 to a neighbor of the church who Haynes had cheated of her land and the trees on it. The case involved a forged deed.

  • Chris Thomas Miller, youth pastor of Praise Assembly of God in Bunnell, Florida, charged with six counts of child molestation involving two girls he befriended through his role in the church, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

  • See the continuation of this list in the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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