Sunday, October 09, 2005


Weekly church-related crime update, September 25 - October 1

  • Robert L. Brennan, was removed from his position as chaplain to a retired nuns’ home because of the controversy caused after he was accused of molesting a total of more than 20 boys from four different parishes. Much of the controversy arose due to the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report, which documented that church officials knew of the abuse but covered it up by moving Brennan to multiple parishes.

  • Malcomb Kogut, music director at Saint Gabriel's Church in Rotterdam, New York, was sentenced to three years in prison for having oral sex with a 15-year-old choirboy. Said Kogut: "It was a blinded moment of temptation and weakness and I promise it will never happen again."

  • Sandra Beth Geisel, an English teacher at Christian Brothers Academy, a Catholic military training school in Albany, New York, was sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years probation for having sex with a 16-year-old student.

  • Stanley Luther Jones, once a minister at Albany (New York) Worship Center, Church of God in Christ, and now a preacher who "travels all over the Southeast visiting different churches and revivals," was charged with three counts of aggravated child molestation and one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes. "Those three counts of aggravated child molestation, represent three different victims, that a three month investigation indicated that he had victimized for a very extended period of time," said a police spokesperson.

  • Douglas Eugene Parker, a preacher in Hernado, Mississippi, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually molesting two girls, aged 14 and 15. Parker was ministering the girls at the time.

  • John Turnbull, former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Centerville, Ohio, and currently a priest at Holy Family parish at Oldenburg, Indiana, was accused of sexually molesting a boy at a parochial school student at Streator, Ill., during the late 1970s.

  • Mary Help of Christians School in Tampa, Florida is the target of eight law suits accusing priests or teachers of child molestation. The latest two were filed this week. Reported the St. Petersburg Times:

    One says the plaintiff enrolled in the school in 1980 for the sixth grade. On 20 or more occasions starting in September 1982, a music teacher sexually abused him, the suit says. Years after the music teacher left the school in 1984, he continued to have a sexual relationship with the plaintiff, the suit says. The second suit says the plaintiff enrolled in the school in 1989 in the sixth grade. After catching the boy urinating behind the school, a priest called him to the back of the altar and prayed while he fondled the boy, the suit says.

  • William Winston, one of the rare Catholic priests who is married (because he converted to Catholicism while he was a priest in the Episcopal Church), was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault by a grand jury in Morristown, New Jersey, which had heard testimony that Winston had thrown his wife to the floor in the church rectory and kicked her.

  • Stephen A. Fernandes, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church on Bedford, Mass., pleaded guilty to storing hundreds of images of child pornography on a computer and tricking a 16-year-old into filming himself performing a sex act.

  • Paul Smith, the former pastor of Miracle Baptist Mission of East Stuart and founder of a Treasure Coast prison ministry in Fort Pierce, Florida who is on trial for burglary and battery against his wife, told a court that the charge against him is part of a conspiracy between his wife and Fort Pierce Police Chief Eugene Savage, while Rose Smith denied having the affair. The charge involves an incident at a house where Rose Smith was staying. Paul Smith "fled the area after warrants were issued in 2004, but returned to Fort Pierce and was arrested in July 2005 outside a City Commission meeting, reported the Fort Pierce Tribune. "He faces four counts of aggravated stalking after being accused of contacting his wife several times against the terms of a domestic violence injunction."

  • Steven G. Smith, described as a "charismatic pastor of an Irving (Texas)nondenominational church" by the Dallas News, was convicted on sexual assault charges for having sex with three female members of his congregation:

    "That was the way he treated the women in his church," prosecutors Josh Healy said during closing arguments. "He'd use the Bible. He'd use God's word to prey on these women." In each of the three cases described in the trial, female congregation members testified that Mr. Smith influenced them into having sex during private prayer and counseling sessions.

  • The trial of Gerald Robinson has been delayed so the defense attorneys can have more time to examine evidence. Robinson, a priest in Toledo, Ohio, is charged with the ritualistic murder of Margaret Ann Pahl, a nun who worked with Robinson at in a hosptial. The killing allegedly took place over the 1980 Easter weekend.

  • Robert Hermley, a priest convicted of indecent assault on two teenage boys in 1982, was reinstated to ministry the same year, admitted the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware. "Hermley was arrested in 1982 in Pennsylvania, while watching X-rated movies at a drive-in theater with two Philadelphia boys, ages 13 and 14. Nineteen pornographic magazines were found in the car," reported WPVI TV. As recently as 2002, Hermley was serving at the Little Sisters of the Poor retirement complex in Ogletown.

  • Ryan Erickson, a priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Hudson, Wisconsin, who later killed himself, most likely murdered two funeral home workers, said prosecutors. Erickson was under investigation for molesting a teenage boy at the church. Dan O'Connell, a funeral home worker, reportedly found out about the molestation and confronted Erickson. Soon after, O'Connell and his intern were shot dead inside the O'Connell Family Funeral Home. Erickson then presided over O'Connell's funeral. After police questioned Erickson about the murders, he committed suicide.

  • William Forte, facilities manager at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, was "arrested and accused of offering a teen $100 last year to perform a sex act, which the boy refused," reported the St. Petersburg Times. "Forte had been supervising the teen's court-ordered community service, one of his regular duties." Diocesan officials later acknowledged that they had hired Forte before seeing the results of his background check, which later revealed that in 1992 Forte had been charged "with showing pornography to six teens, giving them alcohol and paying them for sex. He ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and received six months' probation." The diocese later received the background check, but did not fire Forte, explained a spokesperson: "They felt his explanation was adequate, and the charges were more than 10 years old. ... They felt satisfied that the case was blown out of portion."

  • The never-ending chronicle of church-related crime continues here.

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