Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Weekly church-related crime update, November 14 - November 20

  • Paul LeBrun, a Catholic priest at two suburban Phoenix, Arizona, churches, St. John Vianney Church and the Blessed Sacrament Church, was found guilty of abusing boys ranging from age 11 to 16 from 1986 to 1991, reported the Associated Press:

    LeBrun stood trial on eight counts of sexual conduct with a minor and five counts of child molestation. Jurors returned the six guilty verdicts but couldn’t reach agreements on five others. One other count was dropped, and LeBrun was acquitted of one count. Prosecutors alleged during the trial that LeBrun took advantage of young boys in Arizona and Indiana whose parents were abusive or divorced or boys who were abandoned by their fathers.

    LeBrun faces 81 to 110 years in prison.

  • Dean Robins, pastor of the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in St. Roase, La., was arrested for crime against nature after being accused of having sex with another man in the bathroom stall of a Saint Rose truck stop.

  • Gerald Fitroy Griffith, pastor of the Redemption Christian Fellowship in Woodlawn, Maryland, was charged with sexual abuse to a minor, perverted practice, sodomy, second-, third-, and fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. "Police say they were contacted by five victims about alleged sexual abuse. Police say an investigation found that Griffith was sexually abusing the victims during counseling sessions in the church office," reported the Associated Press.

  • Keith Thomas, pastor of Vineyard (Ohio) Community Church, may be deported, reported WCPO News. Thomas, a British subject, had been convicted and served prison time on drug charges 35 years ago. The past conviction came to light when Thomas applied for a green card.

  • Aaron Joseph Cote, associate pastor at St. Pius V Church in Providence, Rhode Island, was suspended from his duties after Brandon Rains, a former altar boy, filed a lawsuit accusing Cote of sexually abusing him when he was 14 and 15 years old. (Cote and Rains are seen in the photo at left.)

  • St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California, the only seminary operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and alma mater of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod Brown and other prominent prelates, has produced a disproportionate number of alleged sexual abusers, reported the Los Angeles Times:

    About 10% of St. John's graduates reported to have been ordained in the Los Angeles Archdiocese since 1950 — 65 of roughly 625 — have been accused of molesting minors, according to a review of ordination announcements, lawsuits, published reports and the archdiocese's 2004 list of alleged abusers. In two classes — 1966 and 1972 — a third of the graduates were later accused of molestation.

  • Wendell Johnson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, resigned as police investigated the alleged embezzlement of church money. The missing money was brought to the attention of police by members of the church's board of directors.

  • Dong Wan Park, pastor of Hope Korean Church in Tacoma, Washington, charged with filing fraudulent visa applications for two men he said were coming to the U.S. to work at his church, reported the Seattle Times.

  • Thomas Graham, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in August on charges related to sodomizing a boy in the late 1970s in the rectory of St. Louis' Old Cathedral but who remains free on bail while he appleals, has been living in a retirement home next to a child-care facility, apparently in violation of state law, reported the Associated Press. After members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) made Graham's presence public, the St. Louis Archdiocese said it had moved Graham to a different facility, away from children.

  • Michael Edwin Wempe, the former chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, admitted through his lawyer that he had molested 13 boys in the 1970s and 1980s, reported the Los Angeles Times.

  • Edward J. Smith, the former the campus minister of Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware, was accused of sexually molesting a teenager at the school by the alleged victim, Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth J. Whitwell, a Naval healthcare administrator and optometrist at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., reported Delaware State News.

  • See the entire never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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