Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Weekly church-related crime update, October 9 - 16

  • Ronald Lee Simpson, pastor of St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church in St. Pauls, North Carolina, was charged with felony first-degree rape, felony first-degree sex offense of a child, felony statutory rape/sex offense of a child, felony attempted statutory rape of a child and felony indecent liberties with a child, after a paternity test confirmed Simpson was the father of a baby born to a 12-year-old girl. Also charged with raping the same girl was Simpson's 19-year-old stepson, Rodregous Wactor. As the Lumberton, North Carolina Robesonian reported:

    The investigation began in the fall of 2004 when it was reported to the Department of Social Services that the girl was pregnant. She told authorities that she had had sex with Wactor, but a paternity test showed that he was not the father. The girl then said she also had sex with Simpson, according to [Detective Howard] Branch. A separate test confirmed that the 41-year-old minister is the father of the girl's 13-month-old child, Branch said. The child victim is now 14 years old. Her baby lives with her, Branch said.

  • Louis Beres, chairman of the Christian Coalition of Oregon, was accused of sexually molesting three pre-teen female family members, and local police officials confirmed they were investigating. Beres declined to comment on the accusations, but posted a message on his website saying, "Even Christ refused to be called 'good.' Who am I to proclaim my righteousness?"

  • Reported the New York Times:

    The confidential personnel files of 126 clergymen in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles accused of sexual misconduct with children provide a numbing chronicle of 75 years of the church's shame, revealing case after case in which the church was warned of abuse but failed to protect its parishioners.

    In some cases, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his predecessors quietly shuffled the priests off to counseling and then to new assignments. In others, parents were offered counseling for their children and were urged to remain silent.

    Throughout the files, cases of child molesting or rape are dealt with by indirection or euphemism, with references to questions of "moral fitness" or accusations of "boundary violations." For years, anonymous complaints of abuse were ignored and priests were given the benefit of every doubt.

  • John Misseldine, a Mormon missionary from Little Rock, Arkansas, was sentenced to five years' probation after he pleaded no contest to charges of coercion and attempted lewdness with a child under 14 - two sisters aged four and seven - at a church in Las Vegas. "Misseldine won't have to serve jail time, and charges will be dropped if he completes probation," reported KESQ TV.

  • David Noel, pastor of Bethanie Seventh-day Adventist Church in Port Charlotte, Florida, asked sheriff deputies to remove 16 congregants from the church, as the congregants refused to stop singing as he tried to begin his sermon. The singers were "protesting Noel's leadership and alleged misuse of insurance money for damage to the church caused by Hurricane Charley," reported the Miami Herald. Another congregant, "alleged that Noel struck his chest and twisted his left earlobe during an Oct. 1 meeting to elect new church board members."

  • Michael H. D'Amico, was removed from his position as priest at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and permanently banned from the ministry, after officials at the Diocese of Camden substantiated allegations that D'Amico had molested a 13-year-old boy in 1964.

  • Francis Murphy, an Anchorage, Alaska priest, was named in a lawsuit filed by a man who said Murphy sexually molested him when he was 15 years old. "The Archdiocese of Anchorage has said that at least five other people have previously accused Murphy of abuse," reported the Associated Press. The lawsuit also named "the archbishops of Anchorage and Boston and the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, Boston-based diocesan priests that the plaintiff asserts brokered Murphy's transfer to Alaska even though the group normally assigns priests to South American countries."

  • Ronald Bruckner, the retired pastor of Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was placed on "restricted status" by Archbishop Michael Sheehan after the Archdiocesan Permanent Review Board decided "there were credible allegations" of sexual abuse against Bruckner. "Bruckner, who is in his 70s, will not be allowed to wear a Roman collar, but Sheehan told the Albuquerque Journal that Bruckner still would receive his pension," reported the Associated Press. "A man in his 40s alleged in March that Bruckner had inappropriately touched him when he was a teenager alone at the priest's home."

  • John Anderson, a former priest at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, told investigators that he had voiced concerns about the behavior of fellow priest Ryan Erickson to the pair's bishop, Raphael Fliss of the Superior Diocese, and asked that either of the men be transfered so that Anderson would not have to work alongside Erickson. Erickson was transfered to Hurley, Wisconsin, and four months later killed himself. Last month, a judge ruled that Erickson had "almost certainly" murdered two men in order to silence their accusations of sexual abuse against him. According to the Associated Press:

    According to a report by the Hudson Police Department, Anderson said Erickson's alcohol consumption worried him. Anderson remembered once when Erickson brought a cooler full of alcohol to a popular drinking spot, "Beer Can Island,'' in Hudson and partied the whole weekend. When Anderson voiced his concern to Erickson, Erickson responded, "I'm not a priest this weekend,'' the report said. Anderson also said he heard allegations that Erickson put firecrackers in the mouths of fish and watched them blow up, the report said.

  • In a bid to protect property from sexual molestation lawsuits, the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon had declared bankruptcy last year, and argued that individual parishes and their parishoners were the true owners of an estimated $500 million to $600 million in parish property. But in a counter-move, litigants have filed a rare defendant class action lawsuit, naming all but about 280 of the nearly 400,000 Roman Catholic parishioners in Western Oregon as defendants, reported the Oregonian. The 280 parishoners not included in the suit are those who have asserted that they have no ownership of parish property. Lawyers have said all those who specifically denied ownership of the property would be dropped from the suit.

  • Curtis Hudson, the youth pastor at First United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tenn. who in 2002 was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of "attempt to commit child rape" and "sexual battery by an authority figure," involving male youth under his care, was named in a lawsuit filed by two of his victims, reported the Jackson Sun:

    To protect the identities of the victims, the plaintiffs are listed as John Doe I (now an adult) and John Doe II (still a minor) and Doe II's parents. The incidents involving Hudson occurred when Doe I was "approximately 14" and Doe II was "approximately 12," according to the suit... Court documents state that Hudson's "sexual abuse and rape (of the defendants)" occurred in various places, including the church classrooms, the youth area, various lodging houses at events sponsored by the church and at Hudson's home.

  • Activists with Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and leaders of the Inland Community Church in Chino, California faced off outside the church as SNAP members handed out leaflets detailing a lawsuit filed by six people claiming three youth counselors at the church had abused them, reported the Ontario Daily Bulletin:

    SNAP members said church leaders followed them around the sidewalk near the church on Sunday, taking the leaflets out of congregants' hands and describing the contents as inaccurate. They also were told repeatedly by church members that the lawsuit had been dropped or dismissed - which Stephen Moran, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said is not true. "We have not dismissed this complaint. We have no intent to do so," Moran said.

  • Ignatius Kane, an 83-year-old Benedictine monk accused of sexually assaulting a prospective nun at St. Bernard's Abbey in Cullman, Alabama in 1970, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial because has incurable dementia. A woman claims Kane raped her in the abbey library during a spiritual retreat for women interested in becoming nuns.

  • Christopher Williams, a teacher and athletic director at Holy Spirit Episcopal School in Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison and lifetime probation for receipt and possession of child pornography. Police were investigating allegations Williams had molested male students at the school when they discovered over 1,000 child pornography images on his computer.

  • A lawyer who has filed 13 law suits charging five priests working with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vermont with child sexual abuse, told a judge he wants each case tried separately. As reported in the Rutland Herald:

    The latest round of lawsuits comes three years after state Attorney General William Sorrell launched an investigation against almost a dozen recently practicing Vermont Catholic priests and 30 former clergymen. Sorrell hasn't charged anyone criminally because the claims found credible are too old to prosecute under the state's various statutes of limitations.

  • See the entire never-ending chronicle of church-related crime (dating back to June 5) here.

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