Sunday, July 31, 2005

 

Defrocked molesters fall below the radar


From the Philadephia Inquirer:

At a time of heightened national concern about the need to track sex offenders, the Catholic Church in America has begun cutting loose dozens - perhaps hundreds - of priests who have molested children.

The church had already suspended the clerics after finding the child-abuse allegations against them to be credible. Now, as it defrocks them, expelling them from the priesthood, the men are quietly reentering civilian life with only the barest notice to the public, and no ongoing oversight by the church.

Nor is law enforcement certain to be watching them.

In most instances, the statute of limitations in their cases expired years ago. This means they face no prospect of prosecution for past sex offenses.

"As a citizen, I would be concerned and would want to know if such an individual was living on my block," said Capt. John Darby, head of the Philadelphia police Special Victims Unit, which investigates sex crimes.

But only convicted sex offenders' names appear on "Megan's Law" public registries checkable by neighbors, Darby said - and few of the defrocked priests were ever charged or convicted.

The church sex-abuse scandal, and the "zero tolerance" policy that the bishops enacted in response, has led thus far to nine defrockings in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and one in the Camden Diocese. Observers say hundreds more U.S. priests await decisions by the Vatican.

To critics, the church is washing its hands of a problem it helped create by failing to alert police to the abuse reports years ago, when they were first received.

"If, indeed, a person is a true predator, the institutional church still has an obligation to maintain some vigilance over him," said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, an early whistleblower on priest abuse, and now a prominent advocate for victims.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Abounding Grace School's owners to answer charges


Via General J.C. Christian...

Punishment turned into abuse, boys say

LEXINGTON, N.C. - When he started the Abounding Grace School for Boys in 1995, Stan Mitchell knew little about running a boarding school, but he knew a lot about troubled boys.

After all, he had been one.

With only their religious faith and a strict code of discipline, Mitchell and his wife, Lee, opened the school 10 years ago. They say they wanted to give boys a safe place to learn new ways.

But some of the boys tell a different story: They say the couple subjected them to a level of punishment that crossed the line to physical abuse.

The school stopped enrolling students a year ago after the Davidson County Department of Social Services charged the Mitchells with child abuse and removed all but one of the boys, who was 18 and chose to stay.

They say they are innocent, but they've closed the school for good. On Monday, the Mitchells are scheduled to be arraigned in Davidson County Superior Court on charges of felony child abuse inflicting serious injury.

The parents of their accusers want to make sure they will never again run such a school.

"This is a place I thought they were going to give him love," said Bridgit Wingert, who sent her son, Rex Blevins, to Abounding Grace. "Bottom line is that we don't want the Mitchells to ever be able to take care of children again."

Drawn to troubled youth

Though they have only a limited education - Stan Mitchell has a GED and Lee Mitchell didn't finish high school - they say they felt a calling to educate troubled youth. Stan Mitchell says he wanted them to avoid making some of the mistakes he had made.

His criminal record includes several driving offenses and charges of drug possession and breaking-and-entering. He once spent a year in jail.

"I was a hellion," said Stan Mitchell, 44. "I can't tell you how many times I had been to jail as a teenager. But God saved me and turned me around, and I wanted to save the youth from the mess I had to go through as a kid."

Within a year of the school's opening, nine students were enrolled and the Mitchells built a house in Caswell County and moved there.

The boys followed a highly structured routine that included an enforced period of silence each morning. They were required to go to church and do chores and schoolwork. They ate meals together and worked on a buddy system. Breaking the rules brought swats - or "licks" - with a paddle.

When the school moved from Yanceyville to Lexington in 2000, to be affiliated with Believer's Baptist Church, the Mitchells registered Abounding Grace as a boarding school with the Division of Non-Public Education. The school was free until 2002, when they began charging $400 a month for the 18-month program; church donations also helped pay the school's bills. Most of the boys came to the school at age 14 or 15; none stayed long enough to finish high school there. About 100 have attended Abounding Grace since it started as a home school in Greensboro...

A code of conduct made it clear that for each violation of the rules, a boy could get up to five licks with a paddle. Corporal punishment is legal in North Carolina schools, but the law leaves it up to the administrator to decide what is reasonable, Helder said.

Everyone - the boys, their parents and the Mitchells - was required to sign off on the rules.

But how far did the school go in enforcing the rules? Documents from Caswell and Davidson counties show that complaints were made about conditions at Abounding Grace years before the current allegations of abuse were made.

According to letters from both counties' social-service departments to Helder's division, Caswell County investigated four reports about the school between April 1997 and February 1999. Three reports of neglect were unsubstantiated, and the other investigation "did not reveal any information to suggest that the boys are used for labor, inappropriately disciplined, 'afraid of you' or not being home schooled within the appropriate guidelines," according to letters from Caswell County to the Mitchells...

County social workers didn't contact the school again until July 21, 2004, when they came to investigate reports of abuse that led to the current charges.

This time, the reports came from the parents of two boys who hadn't returned to school after summer vacation.

The Mitchells later learned that the parents called social services with allegations that the boys had been beaten with boat paddles and subjected to long periods of solitary confinement. They also said that boys were sometimes forced to eat their own vomit after becoming sick at the school.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Center of the storm


Reno’s former bishop is not accused in any sexual abuse case, but he has been named as a key witness in more than 150 lawsuits. What did he know about the activities of the priests around him?

Reno, Nevada - Reno Catholic leader Bishop Phillip Straling, who retired unexpectedly last month, is a key witness in more than 150 lawsuits in Southern California filed against priests accused of molesting children. In some cases, he is accused of negligence for failing to stop the abuse.

And prosecutors last week seized records from Straling’s former diocese in San Bernardino looking for information on the religious leader’s former aide, Jesus Dominguez, who recently disappeared after being charged with 58 counts of sexual assault.

The lawsuits and lawyers say Straling, while a priest in San Diego and bishop of San Bernardino, might have known that the accused priests were having sex with children but did nothing to stop them. Many believe he played a part in shuffling abusive priests to new parishes where they had access to and sometimes continued to molest children.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Sexual abuse allegations, cases hint at Spokane's shameful side


Disturbing connections emerge

Three decades ago, while Spokane reveled in its changing skyline and the limelight of hosting a World's Fair, the city frequently was described as a great place to raise a family.

But beneath the surface lurked a dark secret – actually several of them.

Young boys – some from troubled backgrounds and others from prominent families – were being sexually abused by a group of men who were supposed to be role models and authority figures. Growing evidence suggests that people who knew about the abuse did nothing to stop it or report it.


Two attorneys who represent several alleged victims from the era believe there was a pedophile ring operating in Spokane.

Others blame a culture of secrecy, denial and ignorance for allowing revered, male-dominated institutions like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office to ignore abusers in their midst.

"The people and institutions who helped keep these secrets are almost as guilty as the perpetrators," said Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff, who represents two of at least four men who allege they were passed around among abusers...

For most of the community, the first inkling of a systemic child abuse problem didn't come to light until 2002 when the Spokane Catholic Diocese was sued over the actions of the Rev. Patrick O'Donnell and at least a half-dozen other priests accused of molesting boys.

In many ways, the crisis in Spokane mirrored clergy sex-abuse scandals in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. But the magnitude of the scandal here would eventually force the Spokane diocese to seek U.S. bankruptcy protection in December 2004 – one of only two dioceses and one arch-diocese in the country to do so.

To date, at least 60 victims are seeking a total of $76 million from the Spokane diocese.

But some of the abuse appears to have gone far beyond the Catholic church.

News reports about O'Donnell triggered a number of phone calls and letters to The Spokesman-Review in 2002. There were reports that some of O'Donnell's victims also were abused by George E. Robey Jr., a Spokane insurance executive and Boy Scout leader who killed himself in April 1982.

In 2003, the newspaper launched an investigation into Robey's suicide and the suicide eight months earlier of another Boy Scout leader, David Hahn.

Hahn was a Spokane County sheriff's deputy who killed himself in August 1981 after being accused of sexually abusing boys.

At the time of his death, Hahn was the assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 345, which was headed by his friend and fellow deputy Jim West, who is now Spokane's mayor.

Stories about Hahn eventually led to a newspaper investigation of West. On May 5, The Spokesman-Review reported the allegations of two men who claimed they were molested as boys in the 1970s by West and Hahn.

West has denied the allegations and said he was unaware of anyone abusing boys at that time.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Authorities abetted diocese in hiding sexual-abuse cases


While I was way, Atrios picked up the slack, including pointing us to this article:

Police, courts let accused priests avoid punishment

By JOE MAHR and MITCH WEISS
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

For Sgt. John Connors, it was an urgent request from one of Toledo's most powerful priests.

The veteran police detective was summoned by the Rev. John "Archie" Thomas to Central Catholic High School before classes to talk about a deep secret brewing behind the walls of the diocese headquarters.

Church leaders feared a popular priest known for helping wayward youths - the Rev. Dennis Gray - was raping and molesting boys at the cleric's cottage, and Father Thomas, superintendent of diocesan schools, wanted the officer's advice on what to do.

"He said, 'We've got a problem,' " Mr. Connors recalled of the meeting nearly two decades ago.

The officer said he told the priest to keep Father Gray away from kids, and that was it.

Case closed.

The longtime detective did not file a police report, nor did he initiate an investigation into the man later accused of abusing more than a dozen boys.

Instead, Father Gray eventually would be allowed to quietly leave the priesthood and go on - with no criminal record - to become a probation officer and a public school administrator, with access to hundreds of youngsters.

Sergeant Connors was following an unwritten rule passed down from predecessors for decades.

Over the past 50 years, those sworn to enforce the law and protect children repeatedly have aided and abetted the diocese in covering up sexual abuse by priests, a three-month investigation by The Blade shows.

Beyond past revelations that the diocese quietly moved pedophile priests from parish to parish, The Blade investigation shows that at least once a decade - and often more - priests suspected of rape and molestation have been allowed by local authorities to escape the law.

In a review of thousands of court and diocese documents and interviews with dozens of police officers, judges, prosecutors, victims, and advocates, the investigation found:

- In five cases, police officers refused to arrest or investigate priests suspected of sexually abusing children. One longtime Toledo police chief pressured subordinates not to arrest priests.

- In three cases that did result in formal investigations, authorities blocked the release of the case files to the public. Unlike convicted sex offenders, those priests could now pass background checks and have access to children without ever divulging their pasts.

- In one case that did make it to sentencing, a judge agreed to a jail term for a priest far lighter than commonly given to other pedophiles convicted of similar crimes.

- And in three cases, police and child-welfare caseworkers delayed or dismissed investigations of suspected pedophiles who were priests.

In understanding what has become the biggest scandal to engulf the American Catholic church in generations, victims' advocates say one issue left unexposed is the role of civil authorities in helping to minimize or hide the criminal actions of pedophiles who wore priestly collars.

While the sexual abuse crisis continues to unfold across the country, the deeper issue of police protection is now emerging, particularly in places with deeply rooted Catholic populations and where church members reached some of the most powerful positions in those communities.


(The article continues at link, and has much more detail in sidebar.)

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

 

Weekly church-related crime update, July 24- 30, 2005



  • On Monday, Glenn Ford, a Rapd City, South Dakatoa youth pastor who had already been convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl, was back in court to face rape charges involving a second 13-year-old girl. "In the previous case," according to the Rapid City Journal, "Ford was indicted on two counts of third-degree rape and one count of sexual contact with a child under 16 after two adolescent girls from his church, Victory Chapel on La Crosse Street, reported that he sexually assaulted them. One of the girls told investigators that Ford had sex with her in the basement of the church."

  • On Tuesday, Ryan Martin Wonderly, the youth minister at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma City, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for molesting children in his church. Although news reports relay little information, Wonderly's court record, available here, shows that he was convicted on 11 counts of indecent or lewd acts with children under 16 and four counts of rape by instrumentation.

  • Court proceedings began in the molestation case against Donald Buzanowski, a priest in Green Bay, Wisc. Buzanowski is accused of fondling a ten-year-old while a counselor at the church.

  • Michael Wolfe, the ministry director of Cutting Edge Ministries in Telford, Pennsylvania, was arrested and charged with rape, sexual assault, and other related charges involving a 19-year-old woman. "Police say Wolfe confessed to having a sexual relationship with his alleged victim since she was 16-years-old," accroding to KYW News in Philadelphia.

  • Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping Salt Lake City, Utah, teenager Elizabeth Smart three years ago, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. "District Judge Judith Atherton ruled that Mitchell, 51, was suffering from a delusional disorder based on his religious beliefs, leaving him unable to make decisions in his best interest and assist his defense," reported CNN.

  • Monsignor John Woolsey, pastor and secretary-treasurer of St. John the Martyr Parish in Manhattan, indicted on charges of grand larceny, tax evasion, and falsifying business records for allegedly embezzling over $800,000 from the church. According to the Empire Journal, "[t]he investigation revealed that the defendant used stolen funds in a variety of ways, including the purchase of fancy watches (Rolex, Breitling, Omega, and Breguet), clothes from department stores such as Macy's and Bloomingdale's, restaurants such as Petaluma and Lenox Room, domestic and international travel to locations such as Vermont, Florida and Spain, and to buy golf equipment and pay for country club expenses, prosecutors said."


  • On Wednesday, Pastor Leon Harris of the Rose Hill Free Will Baptist Church near Greenville, North Carolian, already charged with secretly videotaping a woman on a Surf City, North Carolina beach, was additionally charged with illegally videoptaping 10 women and girls; "six of the victims are adults, four are children," reported WCNT. "And police say all the video was taken inside the church."

  • Kirk Zimmerman, pastor of Fowler Christian Church in Fowler, Indiana, had not yet been arrested, but was reportedly to face charges of fondling an 8-year-old girl. The judge initially assigned to the case recused himself because he is a member of Zimmerman's church.

  • John Burt lost an appeal of a conviction for molesting a 15-year-old girl at Our Father's House, the home for troubled girls he operated with his wife in Milton, Florida, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. "Burt has been a key figure in anti-abortion protests and violence in nearby Pensacola," reported the Associated Press. "He had associated with Michael Griffin, now serving a life sentence for fatally shooting an abortion doctor in 1993, and Paul Hill, executed in 2003 for the shooting deaths of another doctor and clinic escort in 1994."

  • On Thursday, Charles Howard,a minister at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Memphis, was charged with sexual battery after an incident in a Waffle House parking lot, where Howard allegedly suggested he try hypnotizing the woman to help her with marriage problems. "According to the police report," reported WREG News, "the minister then told her 'She would obey his every command like it was... God talking to her.' But what she claims next wasn't very God-like. She says the minister unzipped his pants and coaxed her to touch him innappropriately."

  • James Ronald Gonsalves, a deacon of St. Ann Church in Waihee, Hawaii, was charged with 62 counts of sexual assault against a 12-year-old boy.

  • On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Clarence Holinshed, pastor at God's Way Church in Elmore County, Alabama, had 20 years ago been convicted of molesting a boy in Georgia, apparently while he was a minister at a nearby church. Holinshed is in violation of no laws, said law enforcemnt officials, so long as the church doesn't have a school or day-care center.

  • Eugene O'Sullivan, the first priest in Massachusetts to be convicted of sexual abuse, was defrocked by the Vatican. "In 1984, Eugene O'Sullivan was sentenced to probation after he admitted sodomizing a 13-year-old altar boy," reported the Associated Press. "A condition of his sentence was that he not be allowed to work with children. But O'Sullivan was later assigned to four New Jersey parishes. He was recalled to Boston in 1992 after church officials learned of another allegation against him dating to his time in Massachusetts. "


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    Wink and prayer in N.J.






    Majikthise points us to this story:

    Hoboken, N.J. - Scores of faithful Christians converged on Hoboken, N.J., yesterday to get a firsthand glimpse of a plaster statue of Jesus that enraptured witnesses say opened one of its eyes.

    "It's an absolute miracle," said Peggy Dyer, 41, a traffic attendant, as she gazed into the 2-foot statue's brilliantly blue right eye.

    "That's a sign: Something's getting ready to happen."

    Geisha Lopez, 13, stood before the statue hoping for a special kind of blessing. She suffers from kidney disease.

    "I was praying to stop the war, stop the bombings and for my health," she said. "I now have faith that God is going to cure me."

    True believers started coming to the scene outside a Jackson St. housing project two days ago after Julio Dones began telling people that one of the eyes suddenly opened as he was cleaning the "sleeping" statue.

    "I looked up, and saw the eye was open and light blue, like the sky," said Dones, 52, who is partially blind himself and goes by the nickname Sly.

    "God wants the people to know he's present," the unemployed man said, adding that he found the statue in a Jersey City garbage bin a year ago.

    A carnival atmosphere surrounded the winking Jesus yesterday. Onlookers young and old - many of whom had seen the statue previously when both of its eyes were closed - wondered aloud how something like this could happen. And how it might change their lives.

    "I'm going to start going to church from now on because since I've seen this yesterday, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind," said Tanya Vega, 27, a Hoboken masseuse.

    Anthony Purvis, 11, silently stared at the statue for about 90 seconds and then turned to four of his boisterous friends and said, "If the other one pops open, I'm going to run. I'm out of here."

    Not everyone who gathered around the statue was convinced that its supposed awakening was an act of God.

    "It's just a sculpture," said Wanda Aldea, 14, shaking her head. "I think somebody just scraped its eyelid off."


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    Lawyers say abuse case could crack Joliet Diocese


    Chicago - The Diocese of Joliet is urging a DuPage County judge to seal the personnel file of a former Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse, setting up a legal battle to force church officials to name both victims and other priests with similar charges.

    A Glen Ellyn man in his late 40s identified only as “John Doe” is embroiled in a civil lawsuit against Edward Stefanich. Doe accuses the defrocked priest of repeatedly sexually abusing him between 1969 and 1970. Doe was a 12-year-old student at Christ the King Elementary School in Lombard at the time. Stefanich, now in his late 60s, served six months in jail on a separate aggravated criminal sexual assault charge in 1987, committed while he was a priest.

    Doe’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, said the diocese has been bulletproof until his client’s case He said church officials shook off at least half a dozen similar accusations in the last decade because the alleged abuse traced back beyond the statute of limitations for such charges.

    “The Diocese of Joliet has yet to be held legally accountable, and this is the first case where any survivor may get a chance to make his sordid story known,” Anderson said. “The bishop and his officials have hid behind statute. Now the wall of deception and deceit has begun to crack.”


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Vatican defrocks priest convicted in Massachusetts


    BOSTON - The Vatican has defrocked the priest who was the first in Massachusetts convicted of sexual abuse more than two decades ago, the Boston Archdiocese said Friday.

    In 1984, Eugene O'Sullivan was sentenced to probation after he admitted sodomizing a 13-year-old altar boy. A condition of his sentence was that he not be allowed to work with children.

    But O'Sullivan was later assigned to four New Jersey parishes. He was recalled to Boston in 1992 after church officials learned of another allegation against him dating to his time in Massachusetts.

    The Vatican's action to defrock O'Sullivan means he may no longer function as a priest in any capacity, except absolution to the dying.

    A second priest, Paul E. McDonald, accused of abusing boys, also was defrocked.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Former jail guard sentenced to four years in jail


    CHICAGO - A former Cook County jail guard has been sentenced to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to delivering drugs to prison inmates.

    A Cook County judge sentenced 34-year-old Michael Long Junior and ordered him to pay about two-thousand dollars in fees. Long pleaded guilty to delivering controlled substances to a penal institution.

    According to court documents, nine other charges were dropped in exchange for the plea agreement.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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    Friday, July 29, 2005

     

    Maui deacon charged with rape


    WAILUKU, Maui - A Maui Catholic church deacon has been charged with 62 counts of sexual assault against a boy, an accusation that stunned the tiny rural parish where a bake sale is usually the big news of the month.

    James Ronald Gonsalves, 68, deacon of St. Ann Church in Waihee, pleaded not guilty yesterday to the charges, which include 30 counts of first-degree sexual assault, 30 counts of third-degree sexual assault and two counts of first-degree attempted sexual assault.

    Police said the crimes occurred between June 2002 and last month, starting when the boy was 12. They said some of the assaults occurred in the church.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Memphis Minister Charged with Sexual Battery


    Memphis - It was in the parking lot of the Germantown Waffle House where a woman says a Memphis minister was counseling her for marriage problems. She alleges he suggested hypnotizing her to help her cope.

    According to the police report: the minister then told her "She would obey his every command like it was... God talking to her." But what she claims next wasn't very God-like. She says the minister unzipped his pants and coaxed her to touch him innappropriately. The minister charged with sexual battery is Charles Howard.

    The story does not ring true for those at Howard's church. Bo Grace is the senior pastor at Broadmoor Baptist. Grace says, "I talked with Charles before he was arrested and I am convinced without question that he is innocent . I have absolutely no reason to believe and have never had any reason to believe that he could ever be guilty of charges such as what has been filed against him."

    Pastor Grace says Charles Howard has worked at his church for about a year. He explains, "We, before he ever came, did a very thorough background search and so forth and his entire career. His entire life seems to be squeaky clean. I believe that in the end it will be shown to continue to be that way."

    We tried to talk to minister Howard, but as we were pulling up to his home... he and his family... Were pulling out. We asked, "Do you all have any comment?" But when the van sped away... we took that as a 'No'.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Police: Mom beats son over room-cleaning


    Thanks to Alex for the heads-up!

    EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- A woman who had been drinking and unhappy with the way her son cleaned his bedroom allegedly punched the boy in the head and attacked him with an extension cord and an ashtray, police said.

    Kimberly Basinger, 34, of Evansville, was arrested Tuesday and charged with child neglect resulting in injury and public intoxication. Her son, whose age was not released, suffered bruises near his right eye, an abrasion on the back of one leg and had some bumps on his head, according to police.

    The confrontation began when Basinger checked her son's bedroom that she asked him to clean earlier Tuesday evening, which he did, the report said.

    But Basinger was not pleased with his effort and yelled at the boy. According to the report, she punched him and knocked him to the floor.

    She grabbed an extension cord and whipped it at his legs. She also beat him with an ashtray, the report said.

    The boy pushed his mother away and ran to a neighbor's house, the report said.


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    Neighbors Worry About Church Pastored By Man With Molestation Conviction


    ECLECTIC, Ala. -- Neighbors and law enforcement officers in rural Elmore County are upset after learning that a man convicted of molesting a boy in Georgia two decades ago is pastor of a church on the shores of Lake Martin.

    61-year-old Clarence Holinshed of Ashland was convicted in Georgia of aggravated child molestation and sodomy. The information comes from the Alabama Department of Public Safety Web site. He is registered as a sex offender in Clay County.

    Holinshed said he isn't trying to hide anything. He said he was ordained 47 years ago, and served as minister for seven years at a church on the Tallapoosa County side of Lake Martin.

    He is now a minister at the God's Will, God's Way Church in Elmore County. Services began in May with about 50 people and he said everyone in the church knows about his past.

    Sheriff Bill Franklin said his office has tried repeatedly to contact Holinshed but has not reached him.

    District Attorney Randall Houston said there is nothing in the law to prevent a sex offender from leading a church that doesn't have a school or day-care center.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Denton constable faces sex charges


    Via Atrios...

    Denton County, Texas - A Denton County constable drove to a Colorado restaurant on Thursday and called a woman he met through the Internet to let her know he had arrived, according to court papers.

    Instead of Marsha showing up with her 8-year-old daughter for a sexual encounter, he met her colleagues – Cañon City, Colo., police officers.

    Larry Dale Floyd, a 62-year-old constable from The Colony, was arrested on suspicion of soliciting to have sex with a child and was charged with seven related crimes, Cañon City police said.

    Mr. Floyd was being held at the Fremont County Detention Center in southern Colorado on $100,000 cash-only bail. He could not be reached for comment.

    Texas and Colorado investigators are looking into Mr. Floyd's life for evidence of other encounters with children, said Dave Bodycomb, a Cañon City police records clerk.

    "They have suspicion he's done that," Mr. Bodycomb said.

    Investigators would not comment further, but court papers detail sexually explicit conversations with an undercover officer dating to June 2.

    Charges against Mr. Floyd include conspiracy and criminal intent to commit sexual assault on a child, pandering of a child, inducement of child prostitution, trafficking in children, criminal solicitation, solicitation for child prostitution and enticement of a child.

    A person using the screen name freevacation_formoms contacted Marsha – the undercover officer's alias – through an online instant messaging service, according to the statement of probable cause released by the clerk's office of the Fremont County Combined Court.

    The person identified himself as Rick from Oklahoma. He described himself as a "very real older male, clean, safe, discreet" with "a motor home so will travel," according to the document.

    Rick asked about Marsha's 8-year-old daughter, Melissa. He "told me that he had no limits, none at all, other than moms rule," the officer wrote in the court document.

    The officer's name was redacted in the court papers.

    Rick told Marsha about explicit sexual acts he wanted to perform with her and her daughter, according to the document.

    "He also told me that he had traveled two times before so far for this same thing," the officer wrote. "Rick told me that he was looking for one mom into this that he could visit and take on vacation several times a year."

    Child photos
    The next day, Rick asked to speak with Melissa on the phone. "He said that she needed to chat with uncle Rick," the officer wrote.

    It's unclear whether that phone call took place.

    Marsha sent Rick childhood photos of a female police officer. They traded several more instant messages, phone calls and e-mails until June 29, when Rick said he planned to visit Cañon City on July 28.

    In one phone conversation, Rick asked whether Marsha knew any other children. Marsha replied that she had a friend with a 16-month-old boy and 3-year-old girl.

    "He wanted us to be able to have my friend's two children for the weekend so we could be sexually active with them also," the officer wrote in the probable cause statement.

    "He mentioned a few times that they were the age that they wouldn't talk and tell and asked if I thought they would," the officer wrote. "I told that him they wouldn't."

    On Thursday, the man called Marsha to say he had arrived at a Denny's restaurant in Cañon City and was waiting for them.

    And the police were waiting for him.

    Mr. Floyd has been a Denton County constable since 1993. A Republican, Mr. Floyd was unopposed in his most recent re-election in November.

    "My promise to the people was to have a high level of visibility and to serve the citizens in a professional manner," Mr. Floyd wrote on the Web site for his Constable's Office.


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    Thursday, July 28, 2005

     

    Pastor Charged With Embezzling $800,000 From Parish


    New York - A 67-year-old Manhattan pastor has been indicted on charges of grand larceny, tax evasion, and falsifying business records for allegedly embezzling over $800,000 from his parish.

    For eight years, from 1996 to 2004, Monsignor John Woolsey was the pastor and secretary-treasurer of St. John the Martyr Parish, which is located at 250 East 72nd Street in Manhattan, prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

    During that time, Woolsey allegedly stole $836,744.58 from the parish by funneling at least $820,800 from parish accounts into his personal bank accounts, including $47,000 in funds bequeathed to the parish. In addition, Woolsey also allegedly used the parish's checking account to pay for $15,944.58 worth of personal charges to his credit card.

    The investigation revealed that the defendant used stolen funds in a variety of ways, including the purchase of fancy watches (Rolex, Breitling, Omega, and Breguet), clothes from department stores such as Macy's and Bloomingdale's, restaurants such as Petaluma and Lenox Room, domestic and international travel to locations such as Vermont, Florida and Spain, and to buy golf equipment and pay for country club expenses, prosecutor’s said.

    The investigation further revealed that as secretary-treasurer of the parish corporation and as pastor of the church, Woolsey maintained control over the financial books. The defendant covered his thefts by failing to disclose a number of bank accounts in required financial reports to the Archdiocese of New York, falsifying check registers by making false entries on check stubs for items that were personal purchases, and keeping the church finances secret from parishioners.

    Prosecutors said his activities came to light when a complaint from the executor of one parishioner's estate about large transfers from the parishioner to the pastor led to an investigation by the Archdiocese. After reviewing parish financial records showing large numbers of unexplained withdrawals from parish accounts, the Archdiocese referred the case to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

    A lawsuit continues between Woolsey and the executor.

    Woolsey was arrested Tuesday after surrendering to detectives from the NYPD District Attorney's Office Squad. He is charged with grand larceny in the second degree, a C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; grand larceny in the third degree, a D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; four counts of filing a false personal tax return with Intent to evade tax, four counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, and six counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, all E felonies punishable by up to four years in prison.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    On the road....


    I'll be traveling for most of July, and I'm not sure how much or how often I'll be able to post. I'll make a special effort to keep on top of the church-related crime posts, though.

    Since you're here, what do you think? Is this blog worth the effort? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Love letters and hate mail are equally welcome via the comments. Thanks,

    Tim

    |  

    Ex-CIW prison guard sentenced for sex act


    RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A former lieutenant from the California Institution for Women state prison was sentenced on Thursday to 270 days in county jail for having sexual contact with an inmate.
    Jasper Ayala will serve his jail time on weekends.

    Ayala pleaded no contest in May to two felony charges in exchange for the sentence he received Thursday from Judge Gerard Brown in West Valley Superior Court.

    Authorities say Ayala coerced the female inmate to perform a sex act inside the Chino prison in April 2002. The woman gave DNA evidence from the encounter to investigators.

    Ayala has since retired.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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    Alive and Thriving in the Midwest: Brawling in Cages


    Joe G. points us to this NY Times article:

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D., July 23 - When they rewind the video of the fight in the cage, all the blood will spray back into Gervis Fool Bull's nose, all the screams will be sucked into the collective chest of the sweating crowd, and the fist will snap back toward the big truck driver from Iowa who threw it, a man with a mohawk haircut who grew up fighting his twin brother in the neighborhood junkyard.

    But to find where this punch between strangers really began, the rewinding would have to go back almost three weeks, to the Fourth of July in the lakeside tourist town of Okoboji, Iowa, where the twin brothers were prowling around, drinking, not liking tourists.

    "My goal that night was to beat up the biggest tourist I could find," said Nate Hawn, 20.

    He picked a marine, he said, and beat him in the crowded streets. A stranger approached, and the Hawns wondered if he wanted some, too.

    The man said that he worked with a promoter of cage fighting and that the guys should come to Sioux Falls in a few weeks. "He said, 'You guys are exactly what we're looking for,' " the brother with the mohawk, Ryan Hawn, recalled.

    The brothers arrived on Saturday at "The Cage," a no-holds-barred night of one-on-one fights between men shut inside an outdoor chain-link cage here at the W. H. Lyon Fairgrounds. In a sport known by practically interchangeable names - extreme fighting, no-holds-barred fighting, cage fighting - fighters can use boxing, kickboxing, martial arts or wrestling moves, or any combination. Opponents have called it "human cockfighting," a brutish pseudo-sport.

    New York banned cage fighting in 1997, two years after Brooklyn's district attorney threatened assault charges if a scheduled fight went off. Athletic commissions in Pennsylvania, Ohio and several other states have refused to sanction the fights. Indian casinos have continued to allow the matches, while most fans have relied on watching pay-per-view channels with Ultimate Fighting Championship battles and DVD's with titles like "Cage Rage 8: Knights of the Octagon."

    But in Sioux Falls and other small cities and towns of the Great Plains - Fargo, N.D.; Rochester, Minn.; Marshfield, Wis.; Sioux City and Des Moines - cage fighting is making a comeback, drawing hundreds, even thousands of spectators to fairgrounds, small arenas and, most disturbingly to city officials, the parking lots of bars.


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    Fla. Abortion Foe Jailed in Molestation


    MILTON, Fla. -- An activist with ties to anti-abortion violence has been jailed after losing an appeal of his conviction and 18-year prison sentence for molesting a teenager at the home for troubled girls he operated.

    Sheriff's deputies took John Burt, 67, into custody Wednesday. A three-judge panel of a state appeals court on Friday unanimously upheld his conviction on five counts of lewd or lascivious molestation or conduct with a child under 16.

    Defense lawyer Nicole Ferry said Burt will appeal further.

    Burt has been a key figure in anti-abortion protests and violence in nearby Pensacola. He had associated with Michael Griffin, now serving a life sentence for fatally shooting an abortion doctor in 1993, and Paul Hill, executed in 2003 for the shooting deaths of another doctor and clinic escort in 1994.

    Burt was convicted last year of molesting a 15-year-old resident at Our Father's House, which he and his wife operated near Milton.

    His appeal objected to Circuit Judge Ron Swanson's decision to let the victim, now 18, testify from Northern Ireland on a satellite television link, arguing that deprived him of being able to face his accuser.

    The victim testified Burt improperly touched her and wrote a note propositioning her.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Wednesday, July 27, 2005

     

    Ex-Kern County sheriff's sergeant sentenced in molestation case


    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A former Kern County sheriff's sergeant who pleaded no contest to molesting three girls has been sentenced to 16 years in prison

    Michael Allen Lackey got the maximum sentence yesterday after pleading no contest to numerous counts that included continuous sexual abuse of a child and lewd acts with a child.

    The 23-year veteran of the sheriff's department was accused of repeatedly molesting three girls under the age of 10 who called him "Grandpa Mike."


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    Pastor faces child molestation charges


    FOWLER, Ind. (AP) -- The pastor of a north-central Indiana church faces child molestation charges for allegedly fondling an 8-year-old girl earlier this month at his home in Fowler.

    Thirty-four-year-old Kirk Zimmerman of the Fowler Christian Church has not yet been arrested on the charges out of Benton County. The alleged molestation took place in Zimmerman’s Fowler home between July 4th and July 8th.

    A Benton Circuit Court judge who regularly attends Zimmerman’s church has removed himself from the case. A Newton County judge will instead handle the case.

    Authorities say the investigation began when child services officials in Benton County were contacted after the alleged victim was treated at a hospital for a minor injury.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Police Identify Woman Found In Parking Lot


    COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Police are asking for help locating the family of a woman who was found dead in a car this week, News 5 reported.

    Kathryn Starr, 65, was found in the driver's seat of a car at the Wal-Mart on Colerain Avenue Wednesday.

    Officials said Starr had been living in the vehicle.

    Her last known home was on Sutter Avenue in Cincinnati. She was described as a white woman, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing 180 pounds. She had brown eyes and gray hair.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Prison guard sentenced in murder-for-hire plot


    Bristol County, Rhode Island - A former Bristol County prison guard who handed $2,000 to an former-inmate-turned-informant inside a Lincoln Continental in Providence with the plan that he would kill the mother of the guard's son has been sentenced in federal court to eight years in prison, authorities have announced.

    Robert A. Ramos, 44, of 121 Sherman St., South Dartmouth, pleaded guilty on Jan. 11 to charges in the indictment. He was sentenced Monday by Chief U.S. District Judge William G. Young in Boston, the office of U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a statement. After the prison term, Ramos will be on three years of supervised release.

    Ramos, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, wanted the woman killed so that he would no longer have to pay child support.

    Ramos, a correctional officer with the Bristol County Sheriff's Department for 13 years, was arrested as he finished a work shift in December 2003. The day before, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Lisa Cline, Ramos, with his 3-year-old son in the back seat of the car, made the payment to the person he thought would kill the woman described as "female X" in the indictment.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

    |  

    Local Preacher Arrested Again


    Greenville, N.C. - Investigators now say some of those images were taken inside his own church. The Pitt County Sheriff's Department arrested Leon Harris, pastor of Rose Hill Free Will Baptist Church today. You may recall Surf City Police arrested him two weeks ago for taking pictures of women on the beach. Authorities also confiscated tapes from his truck then. In fact, those video tapes landed him in jail again today. Delano Wilson, Head Deacon of the church says it's sad that this is happening. The Pitt County Sheriff's Department tells Nine On Your Side they've identified 10 victims. Deacon Wilson confirms six of the victims are adults, four are children. And police say all the video was taken inside the church. Harris turned himself into police this morning. He got out on a $30,000 bond this afternoon. Police say they could file more charges. Harris was relieved from his duties at the church about a week ago. The deacon says any more decisions will be left up to the congregation.

    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Smart's accused kidnapper ruled incompetent


    Sydney reminds us about the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case:

    (CNN) -- The man accused of kidnapping Salt Lake City, Utah, teenager Elizabeth Smart three years ago was found mentally incompetent to stand trial Tuesday.

    District Judge Judith Atherton ruled that Brian David Mitchell, 51, was suffering from a delusional disorder based on his religious beliefs, leaving him unable to make decisions in his best interest and assist his defense.

    The judge ordered Mitchell confined for mental "treatment intended to restore the defendant to competency."

    The decision means that Mitchell, who calls himself "Emmanuel," will not be tried on six felony charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and burglary unless his condition improves.

    His wife and alleged accomplice, Wanda Eileen Barzee, 59, was charged with the same six felony counts but was found incompetent to stand trial in January 2004.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

     

    Minister Arrested For Alleged Sexual Assault


    MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Penn. (KYW) The director of a ministry in Montgomery County was arrested Tuesday and charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

    Police say that Michael Wolfe, a 30-year-old minister, was arrested and charged with rape, sexual assault, and other related charges.

    Officials say Wolfe was arrested after an investigation of a reported sexual assault involving a 19-year-old female. Police say Wolfe confessed to having a sexual relationship with his alleged victim since she was 16-years-old...

    Wolfe is the ministry director of Cutting Edge Ministries located in Telford, P.A. He has lived in Souderton with his wife and three children for the past year.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Opening Statements in Priest Molestation Trial


    Madison, Wisc. - Opening statements begin Tuesday in the case against a former priest accused of molesting a boy more than 15 years ago.

    Donald Buzanowski is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child. He's accused of fondling a ten-year-old while a counselor at a church in Green Bay back in 1988.

    The now 27-year-old victim initially went to police in 1990, but prosecutors opted not to file charges, citing a lack of evidence.

    After the former priest wrote a letter to a friend admitting to molesting more than a dozen boys, prosecutors decided to go ahead with the case.

    A judge later ruled that letter inadmissible.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Former Bethany Pastor Sentenced In Molestation Case


    OKLAHOMA CITY -- A former Bethany child pastor was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in prison for molesting children in his church.

    Ryan Martin Wonderly, 27, was the youth minister at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene. Oklahoma County prosecutors said Wonderly inappropriately touched five girls, ages 7 to 11, between 1997 and 2000.

    Wonderly left the church in February 2003. He must serve 85 percent of his 35-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Monday, July 25, 2005

     

    Former pastor faces another rape charge


    RAPID CITY, S. Dak. - Glenn Ford, the former Rapid City youth pastor who was sentenced to prison on March 1 for raping a 13-year-old girl, was in 7th Circuit Court on Monday, facing another rape charge.

    The new allegation stems from the same time period when Ford's other crimes occurred and involves another 13-year-old girl, according to Lara Roetzel, chief deputy state's attorney for Pennington County.

    Roetzel said the girl making the recent allegation came forward after Ford's sentencing was reported in the newspaper.

    Ford, 40, is charged with second-degree rape or, in the alternative, third-degree rape. He was arraigned on the new charge July 11 and pleaded not guilty.

    In the previous case, Ford was indicted on two counts of third-degree rape and one count of sexual contact with a child under 16 after two adolescent girls from his church, Victory Chapel on La Crosse Street, reported that he sexually assaulted them. One of the girls told investigators that Ford had sex with her in the basement of the church.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

    |

    Saturday, July 23, 2005

     

    Weekly church-related crime update, July 17 - 23, 2005



  • Over the weekend, Italian police arrested Joseph J. Henn, a former Phoenix priest accused of multiple child molestations. "Henn," reported the East Valley Tribune, "served St. Mark’s Catholic Parish, 400 N. 30th St., from 1978 to 1982, [and] was indicted in July 2003 in Maricopa County as part of a major investigation of child sexual abuse by priests going back to the 1970s. He is accused of molesting three boys, ages 11, 13 and 15, from June 1979 to June 1981."

  • The Rev. Leon Earl Harris, a preacher at a Rose Hill Free Will Baptist church in Winterville, North Carolina, was arrested and charged with possessing pornographic images after a woman reported that he was allegedly videotaping her child on the beach in Surf City. According to the Kinston Free Press, police searched Harris' car and found additional pornographic tapes, allegedly filmed by Harris.

  • On Monday, a Chatham County, Georgia jury convicted James Simpson on one "count of aggravated sexual battery, 10 counts of child molestation, three counts of aggravated child molestation and four counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes," according to the Savannah Morning News. Prosecutors said Simpson, a slef-styled minister, would often pray and read scriptures to the four girls he abused from 1997 to 2003.

  • Tommy Ray Holbrook Sr., pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, was charged with two counts each of child molestation and statutory rape. "On at least two occasions," reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "police say, Holbrook had sex with a girl less than 16 years old. The incidents allegedly occurred in April at the church and in May at a nearby house, according to an arrest warrant."

  • Joshua Palin, director of the Kid's Palace, a day care center operated by Faith Ministries in Green Cove Springs, Florida, was charged with molesting 10 children at the center. Palin is the son of the church's pastor. According to the Associated Press,

    Authorities said that over a year, Palin used games of "Truth or Dare" to "dare" children ages 5 to 14 to fondle him or each other or to perform oral sex on each other.

  • On Tuesday, the Tracy (California) Press published a profile of Joseph George, the attorney representing 33 plaintiffs who settled a sex abuse law suit for $35 million with the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

    For the past three years, George has worked on the cases with an almost religious devotion. He says he sold his assets, went heavily into debt to finance the lawsuits and continued working even after a near-fatal cycling accident... “Sometimes I think, ‘How did this happen?’” said George. “I guess this is an accumulation of all my experiences.” Those experiences include being a former military man, a psychologist, an attorney and — he says, believe it or not — a Catholic who attended Catholic schools through college. “I have a special place in my heart for the faith and the priests I interacted with as a kid growing up in Philadelphia. The overwhelming majority do tremendous work,” said George, in his downtown office the day after the settlement. “But I’m very disillusioned with the church as an institution. They should have done something about this a long time ago, and didn’t.”

  • On Thursday, four executives at Maine Biological Laboratories were sentenced to federal prison and fined thousands of dollars for their roels in smuggling a potentially hazardous chicken influenza virus from Saudi Arabia into Maine. One of the four included Chief Financial Officer Dennis Guerrette, is "a Sunday school teacher, Boy Scout leader and father of six," reported the Portland Press Hearld.

  • Edgar Lopez Bertrand, "a televangelist regarded as one of the most influential ministers in El Salvador, pleaded guilty Thursday to faking a passport for a girl he falsely claimed as his daughter," reported the Houston Chronicle.

  • On Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris agreed "to expand the Portland Archdiocese bankruptcy case to include every Roman Catholic parishioner and contributor in Western Oregon -- more than 389,000 people," reported the Oregonian. At issue is a property dispute between more than 200 sex abuse plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Portland.

  • On Staurday, Newsday took a look at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Queens. The church's pastor, the Rev. Charles Betts Sr., and Anna and Barry Kilpatrick (its administrative assistant and her husband), had conspired to steal nearly $500,000 from the congregation. Of even more note in the article, however, is this statistic:

    Morning Star.. is among the 20 percent of churches nationwide that has lost money to people entrusted to protect church finances, experts say.


  • |  

    Church defrauded by pastor tries to heal


    Queens, N.Y. - The discovery of a church credit card by someone filling in for the administrative assistant became the first clue of something amiss at Morning Star Missionary Baptist in Queens.

    Morning Star would come to find it had eight unauthorized credit card and bank accounts -- and nearly $500,000 had been stolen from its coffers from 1996 through 2003, prosecutors say.

    But what devastated the Jamaica congregation even more was finding out who allegedly did it: Its retired pastor, the Rev. Charles Betts Sr., its administrative assistant and her husband...

    Morning Star -- which grew from 200 members when Betts took over as pastor in 1971 to about 3,000 when he retired in 2003 -- is among the 20 percent of churches nationwide that has lost money to people entrusted to protect church finances, experts say.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Judge widens church assets case to all parishioners



    This, says Jan, "is an interesting tactic that could help awaken Catholics to their own moral responsibilities. Just maybe, if the suits get personal, Catholics will begin to take a harder look at their own support for denial."

    Portland, Oregon -- U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris agreed Friday to expand the Portland Archdiocese bankruptcy case to include every Roman Catholic parishioner and contributor in Western Oregon -- more than 389,000 people.

    About 80,000 Catholic households will soon get the news in the mail that they are defendants in the property dispute between more than 200 sex abuse plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Portland.

    None of the parishioners or contributors will be personally liable for paying claims if they lose the case. But they could see their parish assets sold or put up as collateral for loans to pay settlements.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Friday, July 22, 2005

     

    Body found in car at Wal-Mart


    ARLINGTON, Texas - Police are investigating the death of a man whose decomposed body was found Thursday night inside a car at a south Arlington Wal-mart parking lot.

    A Wal-mart security guard called 911 just before midnight to report a foul smell coming from a 2003 white Nissan Maxima that had been parked at the store for at least two days, police said. When officers opened the car trunk, they found a man's body.

    The man was identified as Ramon Robledo, 32, of Fort Worth. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office is still working to determine how Robledo died.

    The man's wife told Arlington police she had last seen her husband on Sunday.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Preacher pleads guilty in fake-passport case


    Houston - A televangelist regarded as one of the most influential ministers in El Salvador pleaded guilty Thursday to faking a passport for a girl he falsely claimed as his daughter.

    Edgar Lopez Bertrand, 65, pleaded guilty in a Houston federal court after reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C.

    Prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of time served if a background check finds no criminal convictions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Davis said.

    U.S. District Judge David Hittner scheduled Lopez Bertrand's sentencing for Aug. 11. He will have served about three months in the federal detention center by then.

    Hittner questioned the leniency of the plea agreement, considering Lopez Bertrand's admission of guilt to a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    Assistant Public Defender Peter Bray told the judge that Lopez Bertrand had tried to adopt the girl, and a Salvadoran lawyer had supplied the paperwork, including a birth certificate. Bray said Lopez Bertrand suspected that the birth certificate was forged but used it anyway. The judge cut off Bray's explanation, and Bray declined to elaborate after the hearing.

    Heidi Pasichow, assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, said Lopez Bertrand never claimed to have been tricked into using the fake birth certificate.

    "I don't think there are any mitigating circumstances," she said about the crime.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Sunday School Teacher Convicted of Smuggling Virus From Saudi Arabi


    BANGOR, Maine — Four former executives of a Winslow biotechnology firm were sentenced Thursday to a year in federal prison and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines for intentionally misleading customers and government regulators. The prosecutor said the punishments should send a warning to other business people engaged in fraud.

    The former Maine Biological Laboratories executives participated in various schemes that broke numerous federal laws.

    The company makes vaccines for poultry diseases. Its employees, acting with the knowledge of the executives, regularly changed labels on shipments, doctored invoices and took other steps that violated numerous regulations.

    The most notorious incident involved the smuggling of a potentially hazardous chicken influenza virus from Saudi Arabia so the company could create a vaccine for a farm there...

    The four executives pleaded guilty to a series of charges related to the mislabeling as well as to their actions regarding the international smuggling of the virus. On Thursday, the second day of a two-day hearing, Woodcock imposed the following sentences:

    n Former President John H. Donahoe of Flowery Branch, Ga., 364 days in prison, a $30,000 fine and two years of probation.

    n Former Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marjorie Evans of Belgrade Lakes, one year and one day in prison, a $10,000 fine and three years of probation.

    n Former Chief Financial Officer Dennis Guerrette of Brunswick, one year and one day in prison, a $10,000 fine and two years of probation.

    n Former Vice President of Production Thomas Swieczkowski of Vassalboro, one year and one day in prison, a $5,000 fine and three years of probation...

    Guerrette, a Sunday school teacher, Boy Scout leader and father of six, told Woodcock tearfully that he regretted not having the courage to "stand up, leave the company and quit my job." After he pleaded guilty, he was forced to leave his job at a Portland nonprofit and now works for a small accounting firm.


    Thanks to YH for the tip!

    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Thursday, July 21, 2005

     

    NC Minister Charged With Secretly Videotaping Woman


    Greenville, NC -- A Baptist minister in Winterville has been charged with secret videotaping after a woman complained that he filmed her with a camera attached to his metal detector.

    Surf city police charged 54-year-old Leon E- Harris of Ayden after an officer broke up an argument between the man and a woman on the beach. The woman accused the man of videotaping her and had grabbed his tape.

    Harris is free on bond. He's the pastor of Rose Hill Free Will Baptist Church in Winterville.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Racist Flyers Left On Cars In Wal-Mart Parking Lot


    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wal-Mart executives plan to review surveillance video, hoping it will show who left hateful flyers on people's car.

    The flyers were left on dozens of cars in the parking lot of the MetroWest Wal-Mart on Kirkman Road. The flyer used the ‘n-word’ and read, "Ever feel like you're in a n----- infested country when shopping at Wal-Mart in MetroWest? Face it. N------ have no social skills at all."

    The note went on for several more paragraphs with that theme.

    Wal-Mart issued a statement saying it is disgusted and it will do what it can to make sure it never happens again.

    Police do not consider it a hate crime because the leaflets were left on random cars. So, instead, it's classified as a suspicious incident.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Hancock jail guard dismissed


    HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. - Allegations this week by a former corrections officer and a lawsuit filed recently in federal court both claim inmates were beaten and abused by prison guards at the Hancock County jail.

    Ugina Lauga, a former guard at the jail, told the Sun Herald she once watched other guards beat a 71-year-old man, and can no longer watch in silence.

    Lauga said she reported the abuse to county investigators Monday and was fired from her jail duties Wednesday morning.

    Jail officials said she was fired for falsifying information on her job application, including whether she had a high school diploma or GED. Lauga admitted she has neither.

    "I kind of figured I would get fired after I said something to the investigators, but someone needed to do something," she said. "A lot of people are being brutalized there; I've seen it with my own eyes."

    Lauga said she witnessed 80 to 100 beatings of inmates in the seven months she worked at the jail.

    A federal lawsuit and a "notice of claim" have been filed in the past month by a Gulfport law firm on behalf of inmates who claim they were abused by prison guards.

    Attorney George Healy filed suit last month on behalf of former inmate Valerie Moran claiming guards used the county's inadequate supervision of the jail to "initiate sexual relations with female inmates" in exchange for "cigarettes or illegal drugs."

    Although Lauga did not witness the alleged sexual abuse, she said other guards brutally punished Moran shortly after the suit made headlines.

    "After it came out in the paper, they kept Valerie in the hole for three or four days straight, handcuffed and shackled most of the time," Lauga said. "I finally had to give her a shower."

    Lauga said the guards have an unwritten set of rules on how to carry out the abuse.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

    |

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

     

    Day care director charged with molestation


    GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- The former director of a church-run day care center has been charged with molesting 10 children, some of them during what investigators say was a twisted game of "Truth or Dare."

    Joshua Palin, the 25-year-old son of the church's pastor, was originally charged in June with molesting two girls, 12 and 13. The new charges were added Monday after authorities interviewed children who had attended two Kid's Palace day care centers near Jacksonville.

    The centers were operated by Faith Ministries. Both are now closed.

    Authorities said that over a year, Palin used games of "Truth or Dare" to "dare" children ages 5 to 14 to fondle him or each other or to perform oral sex on each other.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Jail guard facing drug charges


    DOVER, Delaware — A Strafford County corrections officer was arrested Tuesday by federal authorities after they say he accepted delivery of 100 Oxycodone tablets from undercover agents to smuggle to a jail inmate.

    John Teves, 28, of Sanbornville, was arraigned at U.S. District Court in Concord and released without bail as he awaits an indictment and trial.

    Teves faces a charge of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute, a charge that could bring up to 20 years in prison in the federal court system.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

    |

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

     

    Bernie Ebbers: Corrupt CEO, Sunday School Teacher


    YH sends along this biographical sketch of Bernie Ebbers, the WorldCom CEO recently found guilty of security fraud and sentenced to 25 years in prison. His criminal life was matched by his religious zeal:

    Ebbers regularly taught Sunday School and attended the morning Worship
    service with his family. His Christian faith was overt, and he often
    started corporate meetings with prayer.


    "Which is interesting," notes YH, "considering the words of another well know CEO:

    I believe in God and I believe in free markets -- Kenneth Lay."

    |  

    Ayden preacher arrested


    SURF CITY, N.C. - A Pitt County preacher was arrested Saturday after a woman reported that he was allegedly videotaping her child on the beach in Surf City.

    The woman called Surf City police and when officers apprehended the Rev. Leon Earl Harris, 54, of Ayden, they allegedly discovered additional videotapes and recording devices in his car, said Chief Michael Halstead of the Surf City Police Department.

    "He was secretly videotaping people on the beach," Halstead said.

    Officers took Harris' video camera and when they searched his car, they found other video tapes, Halstead said.

    "Upon viewing the tapes, we realized it was all done in Pitt County," said Halstead who didn't reveal what was on the tapes.

    Surf City police charged Harris with possession of pornographic images, which is a felony, and turned him over to the Pitt County Sheriff's Department.

    Harris was put in Pitt County Jail under $5,000 bond on Sunday, which he paid and was released, said Lee Moore, chief of investigations at the Pitt County Sheriff's Department.

    Harris, who is a preacher at a Free Will Baptist church in Pitt County, has still not been charged with anything in Pitt County, but the Pitt County Sheriff's Department is still investigating him, Moore said.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Ex-Valley priest arrested in Italy


    Phoenix - A former Phoenix priest, accused of child molestations dating back to 1979, was arrested Saturday in Rome by Italian police.

    Joseph J. Henn, 56, was under house arrest at the headquarters of his Salvatorian order near St. Peter’s Square, according to his attorney speaking to News24.com, an international news service. The attorney said it would be up to an Italian court to work out extradition of Henn.

    Henn, who served St. Mark’s Catholic Parish, 400 N. 30th St., from 1978 to 1982, was indicted in July 2003 in Maricopa County as part of a major investigation of child sexual abuse by priests going back to the 1970s. He is accused of molesting three boys, ages 11, 13 and 15, from June 1979 to June 1981. At the time, former Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley said he believed Henn was in Rome...

    The Salvatorians — The Society of the Divine Savior — are one of several Catholic religious orders in Rome accused of sheltering American priests wanted in sexual misconduct cases. Henn was among seven priests identified in Rome last September in a Dallas Morning News report.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Report details alleged sexual assault by officer


    San Antonio - A police officer accused of raping a 22-year-old woman forced himself on her in the back seat of his cruiser despite her pleas, according to the woman's account of the incident...

    The woman gave the following account in the police report:

    She left a West Side bar with a group of friends when it closed at 2 a.m. Saturday. She got into a fight with the group and started walking home alone, as cars honked at her.

    The police officer then pulled up and asked her if she was a prostitute, the report stated.

    "No," the woman replied, and the officer offered her a ride to give her relief from the honking and catcalls, the report stated.

    She got into the back seat, but shortly into the ride, the officer cleared the front seat and asked her to move up.

    The woman alleged that the officer "unsnapped" his gun, but did not threaten her with it. He then instructed her back into the back seat.

    According to the report, the woman claims that the officer had sex with her at an undisclosed location as she repeatedly said no.

    The woman said the officer dropped her off in the street with a business card and a dollar bill.


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    Attorney for Stockton church abuse victims reflects on settlement


    Sacramento Bee reporter Jennifer Garza has written a profile of attorney Joseph George.

    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Monday, July 18, 2005

     

    Marietta pastor faces sex charges


    Marietta, Georgia - The pastor of a venerable Marietta church has been charged with molesting a young girl.

    Tommy Ray Holbrook Sr., pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, is charged with two counts each of child molestation and statutory rape, according to court papers. Holbrook, 59, was being held without bond Monday in the Cobb County Jail, said jail spokeswoman Nancy Bodiford.

    On at least two occasions, police say, Holbrook had sex with a girl less than 16 years old.

    The incidents allegedly occurred in April at the church and in May at a nearby house, according to an arrest warrant.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Jury: Man who prayed with victims guilty of molestation


    Savannah, Georgia - After about seven total hours of deliberations, a Chatham County jury on Monday convicted a self-styled minister of child molestation, sexual battery and related charges.

    Prosecutors have said James Simpson would often pray and read scriptures to the four girls he abused from 1997 to 2003.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Sunday, July 17, 2005

     

    Weekly church-related crime update, July 10 - 16, 2005



  • On Monday, eight members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamous sect in Arizona, turned themselves in to authorities to face sexual misconduct charges involving minors. According to UPI,

    Among those arrested Monday was former police officer Rodney Holm, who gained national attention two years ago after being convicted of marrying his third wife, who was 16 at the time. Holm, 38, served a year in county jail in Utah, and also is married to the girl's older sister.

  • The trial of Scott Frederic Harrison began in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Harrison is charged with killing Phillip Perry, a deacon at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Upland. Prosecutors say Harrison killed Perry after Harrison learned that the deacon was having an affair with his wife.

  • On Tuesday, the Oklahoma reported that Oklahoma City police had confirmed they were "investigating claims an employee of a northeast Oklahoma City church and day-care center sexually abused at least seven children." The police, however, declined to identify either the church or the employee, and said only that the children are aged 7 to 15.

  • A federal grand jury indicted televangelist Morris Cerullo on various tax charges, accsuing him of failing to report ove half a million dollars in income. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Cerullo, who began as a preacher from Charlotte, N.C., has said people can be cured of medical problems through prayer. He bought the Inspiration Network in the 1980s from Jim Bakker when the latter was caught in a financial scandal that sent him to prison."

  • Christopher Fouts, director of youth ministries at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, California, was arrested on five felony counts of child molestation. Two of the alleged victims were aged 13 and 14, police said.

  • Police said they had investigated Rev. John Casey, pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in North Plainfield, New Jersey, on a child abuse claim but had declinedto prosecute Casey because the statute of limitations had expired. The Diocese of Metuchen, however, has removed Casey from his post while it investigates the matter.

  • Rev. Santos Teixeira, pastor at Iglesia Del Nazareno in Porterville, California, was arrested on 20 counts of oral copulation with a person under the age of 18 and at least three counts of rape. Two girls said Teixeira had raped them over a period of four years.

  • On Weddnesday, Phillip Boleyn, youth minister at Christian Life Church in Kansas City,"was charged with four counts of statutory rape, three counts of child molestation and two counts of statutory sodomy," reported the Kansas City Star. "According to court documents, the victim told Kansas City police that Boleyn began kissing and fondling her when she was in her early teens. Over the next two years or so, the contact progressed to oral sex and then vaginal sex. The victim told police that they had sex at her house, in his office, in the crawl space at church and in the women’s restroom, the documents said."

  • A grand jury indicted Rev. Raymond Larger, pastor of St. James Catholic Church in White Oak, Ohio, on charges of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition for allegedly abusing an 11-year-old boy whose mother was dying of cancer. Larger had previously been convicted of soliciting sex from a male police officer in a Dayton park.

  • Gary Alan Rinehults, an ordained minister, sheriff's office chaplain and deputy in Hanover County, Virginia, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of forcible rape, forcible sodomy, animate-object sexual penetration and aggravated sexual battery of a girl. The charges involved three girls under the age of 15. Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence, but "the defense argued for a lesser sentence, citing Rinehults' work with his church, love for his family and desire to be rehabilitated," reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

  • A court date was scheduled to hear rape and molestation charges against Donald Bowen, a Cathoic priest who once worked in Norton, Mass. Prosecutors say Bowen raped a girl in the late 1960s and early 1970s, beginning when she was 9 years old. The now-adult victim won reached a civil settlement with the Diocese of Fall River in 1992. In the intervening decades, however, Bowen had left the country, freezing the statute of limitations. He has since returned, and is expected to plead guilty to the charges, reported the Boston Globe.

  • Larry Eugene Prince, treasurer of Victory Baptist Church in Decatur, Mich., and Amy Jomarie Hester, wife of Kevin Hester, the church's pastor, were sentenced to 11 days in jail, small fines, and restittution, for their respective roles in embezzling $8,000 from the church coffers. The Hesters are now divorcing.

  • On Thursday, court proceedings began in the trial of James Simpson, pastor at Saint Luke's Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. Simpson is charged with 19 counts of child molestation and sexual acts in incidents involving four girls he encouraged to sing in the church choir.

  • Marshall Zidel, aphotographer at Camp Young Judaea, a camp for jewish youth located in Milford, New Hampshire, was arrested on four counts of child pornography, after the camp director found two pictures on Zidel's camera of a 15-year-old girl's head copied onto the naked body of a young woman.

  • Philip Maue, musical director at Christ United Methodist Church in Lakewood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to child pornography. "Maue," reported the Philadelphia Inquirer, "admitted in court that he had more than three images on his home computer depicting minors under the age of 12 in sexually explicit poses."

  • On Friday, UPI reported that the states of Arizona and Utah had joined together to offer a $10,000 reward for the return of Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. "Jeffs was indicted last month on charges that he arranged for one of his followers to marry a 16-year-old girl and that man illegally had sex with her," according to UPI.


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

    Return to Bobo's World's homepage.

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    Cop Charged in Murder-For-Hire Plot


    CHICAGO (AP) -- An officer on the police force for 14 years has been charged with arranging a murder in a scheme to collect on a $500,000 life insurance policy.

    Officer Edward Leak Jr. was ordered held without bail after being charged Thursday with first-degree murder and solicitation to commit murder for hire in the shooting death of Fred Hamilton, said Cook County state's attorney spokesman Tom Stanton.

    Hamilton, 35, a driver for a South Side funeral home owned by Leak's family, was shot nine times when he stopped to change a flat tire in February 2004.

    Prosecutors say Leak hired two men to ambush Hamilton as part of a scheme to collect on a $500,000 life insurance policy he had taken out on Hamilton.


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    Saturday, July 16, 2005

     

    Former Scout leader denies sexual abuse charges


    LITTLE VALLEY, New York — James Molyneaux faced his accusers in court Thursday, the first day of his trial on sexual abuse charges.

    Molyneaux, 62, of 155 S. Main St., Portville, is on trial for first-degree sodomy, second-degree sodomy, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sexual abuse.

    State Police say Molyneaux molested two boys, an 11-year-old in 2000 in the village of Portville and a 13-year-old in 1997 in Franklinville. Molyneaux denied the charges on the stand Thursday, saying he never had sexual contact with either boy.

    Molyneaux is a retired Portville Central School Teacher and a former Boy Scout leader. He said he knew both boys from school and scouting.

    More than 30 members of First Baptist Church of Olean, Molyneaux’s church, sat behind the defense table in support of him Thursday.

    Ted Norton, a member of the congregation, said they don’t believe he committed the crimes he’s charged with.

    “We believe it has to be some sort of a frame up,” Mr. Norton said of the charges. “He has told us pretty definitively that he did not do this.”

    Mr. Norton said he sings with Molyneaux in the church choir and has known him for 12 years...


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    Local pastor is arrested on rape, child-sex charges


    Porterville, Cal. - A local pastor was arrested Tuesday after two girls reported he sexually violated them over a period of four years.

    Rev. Santos Teixeira, 43, of Lindsay, remained behind bars Friday evening on a no-bail hold, Tulare County Jail officials reported.

    Teixeira, jail officials said, was booked on 20 counts of oral copulation with a person under the age of 18 and at least three counts of rape...

    On Tuesday, police were notified of the case after two girls - only identified as being under the age of 18 - claimed Teixeira touched them inappropriately and had sexual intercourse with them over a four-year period.

    That same day, Teixeira was arrested, Standridge said.

    According to a phone recording for the Iglesia Del Nazareno, located in the 600 block of North Indiana Street, Teixeira is a pastor there.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Officer Arraigned, Bonds Out


    Madill, Oklahoma - A Madill policeman was arraigned on felony charges of drug possession Friday afternoon, one day after state agents caught him on tape buying methamphetamines from an undercover informant.

    Officer Mike J. Stephenson was on duty at the time and agents suspect he used the drugs after the buy.


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    T-ball coach allegedly paid to have boy hurt


    PITTSBURGH - A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn’t have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.

    Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering one of his players the money to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn’t want the boy to play in the game because of his disability.

    Police said the boy was hit in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game, and didn’t play, police said.


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    County jail conditions condemned in report


    Houston - A lack of guards has led to dangerous conditions in the Harris County Jail, where inmates are packed into cramped quarters, risking disease and violence among Texas' largest county jail population, says a state report.

    Noting that almost 1,300 inmates are sleeping on mattresses on the floors while large sections of the jail sit empty because of a guard shortage, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has decertified Harris County's lockup for the second year in a row.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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