Tuesday, November 22, 2005

 

Weekly church-related crime update, November 7 - 13




  • Edwin Scherzer, an 80-year-old retired priest living in Louisville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four boys in the 1950s and 1960s. "One of the accusers says Scherzer choked and sexually abused him after instructing him to take off his clothes," reported WKYT News.


  • Leonard Robertson, pastor of Prepare the Way Community Church in Medina, Ohio, and father of 17 children, was "arrested for rape and gross sexual imposition for allegations involving two of his adopted children," reported WKYC News.

  • Eugene Ward Jr., pastor of Greater Love Missionary Full Gospel Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, was charged with domestic violence and aggravated menacing after police said Ward beat his wife. According to the Plain Dealer, Antoinette Sims-Ward told police Ward had choked her with a phone cord, and that her nightgown and panties were ripped off in the fight; Mrs. Ward ran to a neighbor's house, naked save for an overcoat. Ward is well known as an anti-gay marriage activist. According to a Plain Dealer article from 2004:

    "If we allow same-sex marriage, it will be the beginning of the fall of the nation," said Bishop Eugene Ward Jr. of Greater Love Missionary Full Gospel Baptist Church. "It's important to the future of humanity."... "It's not that I say it's wrong. It's that the Bible says it's wrong," Ward said of same-sex marriage. "I'm a firm believer if we're going to save our society, I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden coming in and attacking Cleveland. But I'm concerned about the enemy that is already within."

  • Dennis "Tony" Montoya, assistant minister at Word of Grace Church in Mesa, Arizona, pleaded guilty to molesting an 8-year-old girl 13 years ago, when Montoya was 15.

  • Timothy Paul Rowell, youth director at Main Street Baptist Church in Kernersville, N.C., pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties and statutory sexual offense in a case involving two teenage girls.


  • Warren Jeffs, the "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who has been indicted on two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor for marrying a 16-year-old girl to a much older married man, "comes and goes with impunity" from the 1,700-acre Yearn for Zion Ranch near Waco, Texas, said Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

  • In the last few years, as many as 100 people have filed sex-abuse lawsuits accusing more than a dozen priests and volunteers of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus-- the Jesuit order in Oregon, reported the Oregonian.

  • Jerald Schara, pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Marxville, Wisconsin, was arrested on child pornography charges.

  • Kerry Von Smith, pastor of Howard General Baptist Church in Quitman, Arkansas, was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of an accident that left one man dead. "The attorney representing Smith says his position as a pastor only strengthens his case," reported KATV News.

  • Talbert L. Gwynn, pastor of Wilmington (Delaware) Church of Christ, pleaded guilty to groping two male church members, reported the Williminton News Journal:

    According to police, Gwynn grabbed a 14-year-old boy’s genitals in February, when the boy was staying at Gwynn’s house. That same month, Gwynn grabbed a 25-year-old man, who was at his house for Bible study, kissed him on the lips and then hugged him, police said. As the man pulled away, Gwynn placed his hands under the man’s shirt, then grabbed his buttocks.

  • Gregory Fladeland, minister at Covenant United Methodist Church in Lancaster County, Penns., was sentenced to 3½ to 7 years in prison after he was found guilty on one count each of criminal attempt at rape, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and simple assault, reported the Intelligencer-Journal:

    According to a report filed by Millersville police Sgt. Howard R. Bauman, a woman with whom Fladeland had a previous relationship told police she woke to find him in her bedroom in the early morning hours of Aug. 22, 2004... "Greg Fladeland took his clothes off and proceeded to force (the woman) to have sex with him," the report states. "(The woman) stated that she tried to force him away, but Greg was too strong." Fladeland pulled down the woman's pajama bottoms and ripped off her top, Bauman says in the report. "(The woman) was fighting Greg and bit him on the right shoulder," Bauman's report states. "Greg Fladeland then said, 'Oh, this is how you want it.' Greg Fladeland then struck (the woman) in the head two to three times with an open fist." Fladeland ultimately was unable to complete the sexual act, according to Bauman's report.


  • James Michael Holthus, pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lake Crystal and St. John Lutheran Church in Rapidan, Minnesota, was arrested on charges of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct after a man said that when he was about 14 Holthus took him on trips, showed him pornography, bought him boxer shorts, asked him to pose for photos -- and had sex with him, including once at the church parsonage on Christmas Eve, reported the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

    The complaint, signed by Blue Earth County Sheriff's Capt. Will Purvis, said Holthus admitted to fondling the boy but denied giving him oral sex. The complaint said Holthus admitted there were times when he groped the boy while he was sleeping and, "for some reason, that made me feel" as if "this kid is all mine."

    The pastor's supporters packed the courtroom for Holthus' arraignment and have started a legal defense fund.


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

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