Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Weekly church-related crime update, October 2 - 8

  • Darren L. Moore, a Sunday school teacher at a church in Norman, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of forcible sodomy and one count of indecent exhibition of obscene material to a minor, a 7-year-old boy. As reported the Norman Transcript:

    The mother of the victim told the court, in a pre-sentence report, that her son didn't want to go to heaven because that's where Moore told him he was going and he wouldn't feel safe with Moore there.

  • The Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota settled on undisclosed terms a lawsuit filed by two women alleging that David A. Roney, a priest at the Church of St. Mary in Willmar, Minnesota, had molested them. Five other women alleging they were molsted by Roney still have claims against the diocese. Roney is now dead.

  • Nelson Lynn Wright, pastor at Lighthouse Community Church in Ravenna, Ohio, was arrested and charged with soliciting minors for sex on-line. Police said Wright thought he was exchanging e-mails with teenage girls, but was actually communicating with undercover police investigators.

  • Ronald Durham, pastor of Abundant Life Church in Bangor, Maine, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of stealing more than $100,000 from the church.

  • West (Philadelphia) Catholic High School officials have renamed a scholarship originally named in honor of Francis A. Giliberti, a former priest and chaplain at the school who was one of 63 priests identified as child molestors by the Philadelphia Grand Jury report. As reported the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    The fund was a happy story about 17 years ago, when Giliberti bestowed it after winning a $1 million slots jackpot at the Trump Castle casino in Atlantic City... West Catholic officials were shocked to learn of Giliberti's long history of abusing boys, which the grand jury said included walking on boys as they masturbated.

  • William Schwartz, a priest accused of abusing 8th graders at St. Jude's Catholic school in Cedar Rapids, settled a lawsuit filed against him for an undisclosed amount. Three other suits against Schwartz remain. As reported in the Cedar Valley Courier:

    According to the suit, Schwartz went to [the victim's] home, took him and a friend for a walk and, in a secluded area, "engaged in improper physical and sexual contact" with Ortmann. The suit also alleges Schwartz physically and verbally intimidated Ortmann from discussing the incident later that summer during a church retreat at Sacred Heart Church in Rockwell, where Schwartz was pastor. In an answer to the suit, Schwartz "admits that there was, on one occasion, a single act of sexual contact between the defendant and the plaintiff," but denied other allegations.

  • Richard James Trepinski, choir director at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Port Charlotte, Florida who had in 1993 been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually molesting two children and was released on probation in 2001, was charged with violating the terms of his probation when he was found at Kid Star Park, an amusement park geared towards children.

  • The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis settled for an undisclosed amount a law suit that alleged Gilbert Gustafson, a priest at St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church, had molested a woman. As part of the settlement, the diocese agreed to apologize to the victim in writing. Gustafson had in 1982 pleaded guilty to criminal charges of abusing an altar boy at St. Mary's.

  • Larry Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Cold Spring (Ohio), pleaded guilty to stealing up to $730,000 from the church, as part of a plea agreement. Davis faced a maximum 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on a charge of falsifying a loan agreement, and faced other charges as well. "Prosecutors dropped three counts of income tax evasion and two counts of transferring stolen church money across state lines to buy a used Porsche 911 and minivan," reported the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Davis is [now] facing 24 to 30 months in prison and up to $199,000 in back taxes after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to one count each of falsifying a loan application and income tax evasion.

  • Tadeusz Ulman, a priest visiting Chicago from Poland, was charged with raping a woman whose family had allowed him to stay in their home.

  • Richard Colbert, a priest at Father Flanagan's Girls and Boys Town in Omaha, Neb., was accused in a law suit of sexually abusing a student at the home. As reported by the Associated Press:

    The lawsuit claims Colbert developed "unhealthy, psychologically dependent relationships" with male students "to recruit them for sex." It also names Girls and Boys Town as a defendant, claiming it knew - or should have known - what Colbert was doing and should have better supervised him... the lawsuit claims Colbert also molested other unnamed students.

  • Robert Brooks, pastor of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Leesburg, Virginia, pleaded no contest to felony child pornography charges after federal customs investigators allegedly found his name registered on a child pornography Web site in September 2003, reported the Associated Press.

  • Ronald S. Falotico, pastor of Queen of Angels in Buena Borough, Philadelphia, was removed from his post after police named him as their primary suspect in the theft of about $7,000 from a rectory safe.

  • Robert David Keith, pastor of the Warren Hill Missionary Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of stealing $11,000 from the church, buying a Mercedes Benz in the church's name, and conning an insurance company into paying to repair the car after he wrecked it, reported the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Keith has been a fugitive since August.

  • Lawrence Johnson Jr., a deacon at New Mickle Baptist Church in Camden, New Jersey, was indicted by a Camden County grand jury on charges that he molested five children under the age of 13, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

  • Bennie Chapman, pastor of Holy Bethel Christian Church in Chicago who is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault for allegedly molesting a girl from 1997, when she was 11, through 2000, when she was 14, has been sued by the girl's family, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • John A. Oatis, pastor at Holy Jerusalem Church of God in Racine, Wisconsin, was was sentenced to four years in prison for raping a 15-year-old girl the church, reported the Racince Journal-Post. Although police used DNA evidence to connect Oatis to the girl's assault, he insisted throughtout both his jury trial and his sentencing hearing that he was innocent.

  • This list continues here.

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